Business Acceleration Services: 3 things we learned in 2018
The European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot delivers real value Business Acceleration Services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) equipped with a grant by the European Commission. After a year filled with networking opportunities, workshops sessions and matchmaking events it’s important to take the time to reflect.
Here are three exciting things learned this year.
Strategic targeting: The adage “time is money” is undoubtedly true when you want to connect an SME with a big corporate. With the EIC Corporate Days, the objective was not to cast the net far and wide; it was about creating targeted and mutually beneficial opportunities. On the one hand, corporates were able to convey their business needs beforehand and have more targeted conversations with the SMEs. On the other hand, the SMEs were able to talk to relevant decision makers.
In 2018, there were 15 matchmaking events with big corporates: Airbus, ABB, Iberdrola, BMW, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Enel, Vinci, Solvay, Electrolux, Suez, Sonae, Ferrovial, Medtronic and Veolia. According to the feedback survey from the first 6 events, 38 companies are now exploring business opportunities with the corporate. This translates into a success rate of over 20%, considering the number of companies in attendance.
SMEs that were searching for investors had a chance to pitch at the European Venture Contest and the EIC Innovators Summit. Those looking to grow internationally were able to participate in Overseas Trade Fairs. In total, 206 companies from 29 countries took part in the 15 fairs in 4 continents where 4187 business meetings took place with an overall satisfaction among the participants of 97% and a reapplication recommendation that reached 94%.
By continually adapting the offer to the needs and strategic goals of the SMEs in the EIC pilot portfolio, and by choosing the right business partners and event formats matchings those needs, it was possible to focus precisely on what our companies wanted.
Less time pitching, more time selling: An SME is not necessarily a start-up, and most of the companies in the EIC pilot portfolio have already a proven technology, business model and clients. More than pitching opportunities, companies want to get more clients and partners. However, multinational companies have a lot of stakeholders and getting to know the right person who can help you push a business further can be tricky. What we did before our events was to identify the right stakeholder at the corporate side who would be the right person for the SME to be in contact.
The EIC business acceleration events have grown from pitching to sales acceleration events, and from the feedback collected so far, they’re already having a profound impact on the bottom line of the SMEs. By integrating sales acceleration opportunities in the events, it was possible to generate more relevant conversations; companies found more adequate prospects and hopefully this will lead to even more business deals in 2019.
There are different paths for business acceleration: Entrepreneurs have different needs when it comes to scaling-up their business. Some are looking for financial partners; others are focused on establishing partnerships that will allow them to access a global distribution network or need help securing larger deals. You can read all kind of books on this, but if you connect with people doing it already, you can get ‘real life’ access to this experience much quicker. That’s why we believe in connecting SMEs with other similar businesses – that kind of peer2peer networking is crucial. These are some of the reasons behind the EIC Innovators’ Summit in Berlin, and that’s why we have launched the online EIC Community – a platform to bundle with peers and business partners.
Conclusion: The expectation for 2019 is that the broader EIC Community, online and offline, will have better opportunities, tools and resources to meet their business needs. The ambition is to continue to facilitate deals with large corporations, help to secure funding from investors, and enable sharing, learning and competency building. The hope is that some of the connections made during the last year will turn out to be exciting and productive in ways we haven’t imagined yet.
Learn more about all the business acceleration services available for companies backed by the EIC pilot. Keep a look out for future events, and if you have any questions, please feel free to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a happy and productive 2019!