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Story 15 May 2024

Jillian Manus on the EIC USA Soft-landing Programme: “The exposure these 15 EIC-backed companies receive during this Soft-landing is invaluable.”


European innovation has taken the spotlight in San Francisco and Silicon Valley (SV) at the kick off of the EIC USA Soft-landing Programme from 19 to 24 May 2024. During the acceleration week, we had the privilege to unveil some of the programme’s highlights through an exclusive interview with Jillian Manus, Managing Partner at Structure Capital and  U.S. Venture Advisor for the EIC. 

Jillian has been instrumental to the Soft-landing programme, opening up her extensive network of contacts in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and providing the full breadth and depth of her expertise in preparing the 15 EIC awardees who will be attending the Soft-landing week.  

Given her role as EIC Ambassador, Jillian brings a unique perspective in strengthening the bridge between European innovation and the US market and innovation ecosystem. She highlights the importance of People and Team, showcasing this in an incisive agenda that focuses not only on introducing Founders to the Venture Capital and key Innovation  Partners in the US, but also on educating founders and helping them gain the skills and capabilities to build trust with US investors and partners.  


"There will be nothing soft about this landing. This week will be an entrepreneurial bootcamp."


EIC Community:  What specific role does the EIC USA Soft-landing play in supporting the commercialisation efforts of EIC innovators in the USA market? 

Jillian: This is a very important question as Europe possesses many of the most revered scientific and research minds in the world. Yet, there is a lack of knowledge on how to bring their "inventions" to market. Commercialisation consists of 10 steps: Market Research, IP Protection, Product Development, Regulatory Compliance, Distribution Strategy, Marketing and Branding, Sales & Distribution, Customer Support, and Scaling and Nonstop Improvement.  All these steps enable a company to enter the U.S. market. Not one can be missed. The Soft-landing programme has been tailored for the EIC founders to educate them on every facet of this process.  

Throughout the week, the EIC-backed companies will participate in over 20 granular sessions which are being taught by Venture Capitalists (VCs), IPO founders, Enterprise Partners and world-wide recognised institutions, including INSEAD and The NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Centre, the Bay Area Council and the World Affairs Council.  There will be nothing soft about this landing. This week will be an entrepreneurial bootcamp.   

EIC Community: What are some key activities and highlights that participants can expect? Can you give us more insights into the partners and investors they will meet? 

Jillian: This cohort of 15 companies will have the rare experience to engage in an entire day of wonder at Stanford University School of Medicine. As a Dean's Fellows board member at Stanford University Medical School, I was so pleased to be able to facilitate all. The EIC-supported companies will spend substantive time with the Director of the Chan-Zuckerberg BioHub, as well as with the Director of Digital Health at Stanford.  One of the additional highlights of this day will be meeting with the managing partners of Stanford Medicine's Venture Fund, Catalyst.  This will be an invaluable convening. The culmination of the day will be a Pitch Presentation by each company. The audience will be composed of leading VCs and healthcare industry leaders. Attached to this Demo Day invitation is a description and contact info of each of the 15 companies. This will enable those, who cannot attend, to connect with companies of their interest. The invitation was sent to over 250 Funds and Enterprise Partners. The European companies will benefit immeasurably from immersing in the entirety of Stanford Medicine's ecosystem, providing them with optimum exposure and tangible opportunities.  

Our motto in the Silicon Valley is "If you can't say it, you can't sell it". The teams of the 15 will be spending a half a day in Brand Camp at Goodby-Silverstein & Partners (GS&P) San Francisco Headquarters.  GS&P is the 3rd largest global ad agency in the world which only offers this branding programme to clients. They include Nest, Cisco, Adobe, One Medical, BMW and the Oura Ring.  Creating a brand narrative is essential to the commercialisation of a product and one of the greatest weaknesses of European companies. This was one of the glaring gaps in all the EIC pitch decks we have been seeing in preparation of the Soft-landing. The companies must be able to continuously articulate the “why” of the company before the “what” and the “how”. This messaging must be threaded through every piece of communication, as it is foundational to the company. Rich Silverstein, himself, will be leading the Brand Camp. He is a legend.  

EIC Community: Could you elaborate on the significance of San Francisco and Silicon Valley as chosen locations for this Soft-landing experience, particularly within the context of Health and Life sciences innovation?  

Jillian: Although there are many Health and Life Science tech hubs in the United States, none are like the Silicon Valley. It is not a geography; it is an energy source. It has a magnetic field which attracts innovators and investors who “Dream Big”. Who don't run from risk, but chase the impossible. I have literally witnessed a shift of attitude and behaviour when founders land in San Francisco.  Measured minds become bold. Curious minds are fuelled exponentially. Science is one part Hope, one part Persistence and the final part is Purpose.  

All are emblematic of the Silicon Valley, which convenes multidisciplinary talent across a very wide spectrum of institutions and enterprises. All who are determined to deliver cures to the people of the world, not just of the United States. I know this extraordinary posse of 15 will represent Europe with ethics and dignity, contributing to the power of the Silicon Valley, not just extracting value from it.  


"In the SV, we believe that it is rarely the products that fail, but often the people. Therefore, we invest in people first."


EIC Community: What advice would you offer to EIC beneficiaries preparing to embark on this Soft-landing journey in terms of leveraging available opportunities? 

Jillian: The companies have already begun significant preparation for this Soft-landing. They have been grilled on VC Diligence questions, trained for their in-person demo day pitches and have worked tirelessly on their pitch decks, revising slide by slide with a demanding mentor. That would be me. The expectations of the U.S. investors are much more rigorous and complicated than those of Europe. In the SV, we believe that it is rarely the products that fail, but often the people. Therefore, we invest in people first. European companies do not know how to communicate their UPVP, Unique Person Value Propositions, only their products. This is an uncomfortable adjustment for them. They now know that they need to sell themselves and their missions first. SV investor's initial questions are "Why does this company need to exist?" and "WHO do we trust and believe in to build it?". I want these 15 innovators to spend the week in the Silicon Valley presenting with confidence, conviction and (yes) passion. They also must continue to do their homework, identifying the best match of VC to their companies. This is also part of their prep work, but this is an ongoing necessity. 

I have offered to make warm intros for each company to three of their target investors and partners. It seems that I have now taken on the additional role of Venture Concierge. The exposure these 15 companies will receive during this Soft-landing will be invaluable. They will begin to forge mission critical relationships, which is the key to succeed in the Silicon Valley.  They will receive:Access to Capital, Access to Social Capital, and a deep Immersion into the Community of Epic Innovation. They need to stand up and stand out… and will recap the countless benefits of this journey. It has been an honour working with these extraordinary founders.  

Learn more about the EIC-companies participating in the Soft-landing Programme.

About the EIC International Trade Fairs and USA Soft Landing Programme 3.0 

The EIC International Trade Fairs and USA Soft Landing Programme 3.0 supports EIC beneficiaries to promote their commercialisation strategy in foreign markets and leverage business opportunities at the most popular trade fairs and through soft-landing programmes, strengthening the EU innovation brand around the world.  


EIC USA Soft-landing Catalogue May 2024.pdf /community/media/13348/download?node_id=6242

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interest of knowledge sharing and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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