Events - EIC Corporate Day with Saint-Gobain: Making the world a better home one step at a time
They say ‘Third time’s the charm’, but for the European Innovation Council (EIC) and Saint-Gobain the match was there from day one. After a first Corporate Day in 2019 and the EIC Greenathon in late 2020, Saint-Gobain teamed up with the EIC on 10 March 2021 to bring yet another Corporate Day to realisation.
18 EIC-funded start-ups and scaleups, hailing from 10 different countries were gathered to pitch to several dozen high-ranking Saint-Gobain representatives. Topics like ‘health’ ‘transportation’ and ‘sustainability’ were on the table, leading to plenty of interesting pitching sessions and business meetings. After the event, we got together with Minas Apelian, VP Internal and External Venturing at Saint-Gobain, Sven Harmsen, Director External Ventures at NOVA by Saint-Gobain in the United States, Dominique Labilloy, Director of Innovation Development, High Performance Solutions at Saint-Gobain and Laurent Guillot, CEO High Performance Solutions at Saint-Gobain.
One of the most burning questions was of course what Saint-Gobain was hoping to get out of another EIC Corporate Day. Having already met many interesting EIC-funded start-ups in the past years, Minas said that "they were very excited to meet many more during this Corporate Day." With Europe being one of Saint-Gobain’s key start-up hubs, these events are "important to meet startups at early stage, to learn better about the things that they are doing and create a win- win connection for all parties", as Minas mentioned. Laurent added that "many success stories unfolded from the previous engagements with the EIC. Saint-Gobain has been investing in innovation, obtaining inputs from laboratories, researchers and start-ups. Days like this add to the creation of an ecosystem of companies that are close to our fields of operations." Dominique also mentioned "open innovation is one of the important drivers of innovation in Saint-Gobain. There’s a lot of great tech out there, which we can leverage. The EIC is bringing us a pre-sorting with very relevant start-ups."
As to what Saint-Gobain was paying attention to, Sven added that: "You want to see the technical passion, people who want to really bring technology forward and try to make the world a better home .That’s what we are looking for, and I saw pretty good examples out there." Dominique added that :"What is important for us is to think business. We are not looking for a mere a piece of technology, but how we can partner in terms of business to business."
Minas complemented that by comparing the session with going to a shop: "you listen to a 5-minute pitch, which is like looking in the window of a shop while walking by. You are getting a feeling for the individual presenting, the level of energy, the approach, their passion and commitment to the problem that are solving. Later during the business meetings, when you enter the store and try on the clothes, you get a feeling if there’s a fit."
Creating win-win situations
A match-making event like the EIC Corporate Days stands or falls with the number of ‘fits’. Sven noted that his team was very pleased with the opportunity to join, saying that "everybody was happy with the discussions, the speeches, the pitches and of course the chance to follow up with the companies separately in 1-1 meetings." The EIC Corporate Days are just one step in bringing EIC-funded start-ups and scaleups into touch with large corporates. What follows after are the discussions on potential deals, partnership and pilots. On that note, Laurent said that "if we can achieve two to three concrete partnerships, that’s already a big success. We’re not just focused on numbers, but also on the way we do it. Are we giving the companies what they need and is the partnership beneficial for both? That is a key question to take into account."
More EIC Corporate Days?
Want to have the opportunity to create win-win situations with Europe’s largest corporates? The EIC regularly hosts Corporate Days, for the moment fully online. Applications for the EIC Corporate with Trelleborg are still open until 1 April 2021. For further events please keep an eye on our BAS calendar. For more impressions and info on EIC Corporate Days check out our EIC Corporate Day Highlight report and video.