The world is moving fast in the mode of innovation and everyone can create something striking and useful for the environment. To do so, there are many more possibilities and acceleration programmes in the markets.
The value of deep-tech startups is also rising every year. Based on Dealroom data, last year European deep-tech companies were worth a combined €700B. Dr. Anna Tórz, the leading coordinator of the Scale-up Champions project and International Cooperation Officer at Poznan Science and Technology Park, says that international programmes for deep-tech startups have a huge impact on their growth.
Connected the innovation systems
Past two and half years, there were 3 programmes implemented in the project Scale-up Champions: The Startup-corporate Collaboration programme, The Investment Readiness programme, Startup Online Incubation and Market Discovery Tours. All of them focused on supporting deep-tech startups to enter new markets in Denmark, Spain, Poland, Estonia, and Lithuania.
“Innovation in Denmark is not cut off from the rest of the world. That’s why we’re strongly committed to our partnerships with, for example, the Eurotech Alliance and Scale-up Champions with a number of European players”, says Marianne Thellersen, Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Senior Vice President at the Technical University of Denmark - DTU. DTU Skylab innovation hub was a part of this partnership.
More than 500 small and big events for 375 deep-tech startups were organised by the team of Scale-up Champions. More than 300 investors, experts and mentors and 45+ corporations from different countries joined the international project. 100+ technological challenges were introduced. Innovators were advised on how to boost their business plan, create a pitch deck, where to look for new partners and much more.
“Startups were engaged in improving their networking skills and having mentoring support on startup’s value proposition issues. They needed a road map when they were going to expand to different markets”, says Dr. Anna Tórz.
Kadri Tammai, Tehnopol Startup Incubator Manager, coordinating the Online Incubation and Market Discovery Tours has the same opinion. According to K. Tammai, knowledge sharing in terms of local markets, like insights, suggestions, validations, and preparation can help the companies to facilitate their growth more easily with low risk and low cost.
“If you know the market, probably you will not make the same mistakes that other competitors already did. Also, local partners can support building connections by opening their network of partners around the world, which will help to find potential future customers and build the trust that can ease your way into the new market”, she has no doubts.
There were 15 different Open Calls to participate in the different Scale-up Champions programmes and scaling-support activities, and all deep-startups could choose one or several of them.
Attention to Investments in the R&D field
One of the programmes launched online was the Investment Readiness programme for those eager to e-meet international investors and have individual consultations with mentors and experts on how to improve scaling and the pitch deck.
Through Scale-up Champions and similar projects, Unsinkable Robotics has been able to establish new partnerships within the Estonian and Norwegian business and maritime sectors. As part of the Scale-up Champions Investment Readiness Programme, Unsinkable Robotics was advised by Danish maritime robotics specialist Resen Waves. According to Timmu Tollimägi, CEO of the startup, they expected to find technology partners in the destination country, in machine vision, and find out if we could find maritime partners who have made submarine robots, etc.
“We got knowledge and feedback through the workshops provided on how to improve our business model and more. One of the aims was also to learn how to express the deep tech sector more clearly and simply to people who are not involved in this area. Practising pitching was very useful in front of potential investors, helping to achieve a larger sound surface in what we do”, says Timmu Tollimägi.
Juozas Baltušnikas, Co-founder of Science Architect also agrees that meeting investors and experts in different markets is very valuable in the programmes for deep-tech startups.
“During the Market Discovery Tour in Estonia, I managed to introduce our technology to many investors. What especially helped is the Brella app, where I managed to precisely select the most suited investors and schedule meetings with them. With many of them, I will have follow-up calls and this experience is game-changing”, he has no doubts.
Support for better knowledge of the new market
In 2022 Tallinn Tehnopol released Online Market Discovery Tours to support startups in the scaling process. Regional congresses and networking events tripled their changes to make impactful contacts. In the events, founders discovered new materials for their product upgrades, legal frameworks to relocate the business or funding options they never considered before.
Dimitri Ionesco, Founder of LightMirror participated in several Market Discovery missions organised by the Scale-up Champions project. During the pandemic, he moved to Lithuania to implement more R&D and improve the prototype. Here he was involved in the Scale-up Champions webinars and found out about the programmes for deep-tech startups. He argues that such programs for startups and incubation activities are a great push, especially for first-time founders.
“In this programme, I made the first contacts in the Polish startup ecosystem. Our main clients are the infrastructure managers of the public hospitals. Usually, these buildings were built 50-60 years ago. According to the long-term renovation strategy of the Polish public buildings of 2022, Poland's hospital and healthcare buildings are among the most energy-consuming facilities in the country. My solution can reduce energy consumption and make an impact on the Climate”, says the founder.
According to him, participating in such startup events is primordial to making the first contact. Early-stage startups meet key players in a short time, and every new person is an opportunity for synergy, potential investors or potential clients.
Kadri Tammai adds that during the on-site Market Discovery Tour, the companies received a huge amount of knowledge of new markets like local startup ecosystem overview, deep-tech sector development goals, local business culture peculiarities, and insights into venture capital investments, collaboration opportunities with corporates/universities. It helps to get the better view of the market fit.
Meetings with global corporations
Carmen Adán, Scale-up Champions Startup-corporate Collaboration program coordinator, is glad that the project also allowed scouting the corporations open for R&D innovation and collaboration activities with startups. According to her, 47 well known global corporations like Wolkswagen, Pfizer, Teltonika and others joined the programme.
“We were matching the applied startups with corporates’ challenges. In total there were 108 challenges in the categories Smart Cities, Industry 4.0, FinTech, MedTech, GreenTech, Retail, and Biotech. Corporates had to pitch their main challenges and were reverse-pitched by startups with their unique solutions for chosen categories”, notes Carmen Adán.
Scaling support activities and strong partnerships has formed one of the biggest deep-tech startup communities in Europe. “Regional startup hubs and deep-tech incubators joined us as community partners. It has led to fruitful collaboration initiatives - consultation opportunities for startups, Demo Day Investors panels and even gave us the courage to apply for IASP Inspiring Solutions Awards”, says Dr. Anna Tórz.
Scale-up Champions is an initiative that aims to scale-up innovative businesses across the EU and help startups to achieve market success. Following the support of the European Commission, Scale-up Champions aims to connect different European deep-tech startup ecosystems and support cross-border activities to standardise the growth routes in Europe.