2020 EIC Community Wrap-up: The year of digital engagement
In March 2020, the pandemic measures turned the world upside down, obliging several businesses to reinvent themselves. Many startups had to adapt their innovations to new habits and preferences of consumers, but they stood out in the crowd in this game-changing period. The European Innovation Council followed the shifts, supporting beneficiaries also with the strength of community. Let’s look back at the peer-to-peer events, co-creation moments and networking opportunities that shaped the Business Acceleration Services and its community events in 2020.
More than 420 innovators in 14 Online Community Events
It was a busy year, full of changes in the EIC Community space. COVID-19 forced us to move our events online, and our virtual stage became more important than ever. But the digital imperative also taught businesses about the importance of peer connections that are just one click away.
In 2020, the European Innovation Council organised 14 Online Community Events, gathering in total more than 427 innovators. The EIC wanted to reinforce the sense of community with relevant talks between like-minded founders and with trainings providing deep learning skills, everything in a collaborative set-up.
With this remote work, new opportunities for networking came to light, and the digital engagement was one of the achievements of the year. According to the feedback surveys from the last 14 sessions, these community events registered an overall satisfaction among the participants of 91%.
“We are all in this together as EIC Community. Since I have joined the EIC and participated in events, I really feel part of a community. I’m gaining so much, knowledge, network, opportunities. Acting as guest speaker today is all about giving back to the EIC. I also do this in Lyon through the EEN-network. You get a lot from the EIC”, said Celine Saint Olive Baque, CEO of Noraker and speaker during the very first EIC Community Talk of the year.
New event formats and topics
In 2020 we also inaugurated new event formats, filling the agenda with EIC Community Training sessions, Community Talks, a Summer School and a Hackathon. The training events provided relevant mentoring for innovators taking their first steps on the business growth journey. With coaches and peer insights, the EIC Community organised multiple sessions focusing on themes such investment, HR, business in times of crisis and leadership.
“Every day is a school day. I want to use all of the resources provided by the EIC. Listening to two EIC-beneficiaries who recently closed investment rounds was very useful”, shared Joan Fitzpatrick, whose company KiteMedical is active in the paediatric field and recently joined the EIC-programme.
Coaching and peer-to-peer learning are recognised ways to support entrepreneurs, and the EIC Community provided both experiences on different events. During the EIC Community Talks, we created peer learning groups, where innovators could learn from the experience and testimonials of fellow business leaders. The EIC Business Acceleration Services organises more than 20 EIC Corporate, Investor and Procurer Days per year. These events are designed to help startups connect with leading European corporate representatives, investors and procurers. But with a limited number of spots per event, getting through the selection process and manage to do business can be a tough exercise. With the EIC Community Talks: “Ask me anything” on investors and corporates, a limited number of EIC beneficiaries had the chance to receive insights from their peers who already walked a mile in their shoes, from the application process to feedback during the event and possible follow-ups & business deals.
"My interest is to share experience, it’s the best way to prepare for this kind of events. The EIC has been a partner for a long time and the EIC Community is very important for innovative SMEs. Today was also about giving back and helping more SMEs to be part of this dynamic”, said Filipe Aguiar Manager of Pharma73, who also attended quite some events these past years”.
Co-creation to innovation
After these fruitful chats, the EIC Community decided to bring the Corporates to the real game and organised Europe’s first Greenathon. The digital hackathon allowed EIC-innovators to co-create and pose solutions to real-life challenges related to the EU Green Deal from corporates like Henkel dx Ventures, Saint-Gobain, Danfoss and ENGIE. In total, the EIC Greenathon gathered 8 teams, consisting out of 25 different EIC-beneficiaries. During the event, they worked on refining their idea, creating viable business solutions and, in the end, pitching their joint proposals to the corporate and city representatives.
“It was inspiring to work on innovative solutions outside of your day-to-day-work. The chain effect of having different people from different backgrounds and technologies coming together was clearly on display!”, said Pedro Forjaz Carreiro, CMSO and founding partner at AGRISTARBIO, after attending the EIC Greenathon.
What’s coming up next in 2021? Have your say!
The EIC Community, will have more tools and activities to meet the business needs. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to see us cover, you can share your ideas in the comments section!
The EIC Community Events will continue to be a regular part of the European Innovation Council Business Acceleration Services and we will start the year with a Winter School, particularly focused on the digital journey. Keep your eyes on our EIC Community for more wrap-ups on Corporate, Investor and Procurers Day, as well as our activities for Pathfinder-early stage companies. And, as always, check our BAS Calendar for future events!