On 27 and 28 January 2021, 14 EIC-beneficiaries and LafargeHolcim joined the European Innovation Council for the first EIC Corporate Day of 2021. The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had the opportunity to pitch their innovations and explore business opportunities with the Swiss multinational and global leader in building materials and solutions.
The EIC start-ups, coming from Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ukraine, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy and Romania pitched their innovative ideas in sustainable construction, waste management and digitalization directly to LafargeHolcim, all in the hopes of bringing the best ideas to market. Edelio Bermejo, Head of Innovation at LafargeHolcim and Victor Pacheco Ragel, Innovation Process Manager at LafargeHolcim joined us to talk about how this day fits with LafargeHolcim’s innovation goals and what they are hoping to get out of it.
The beauty of the EIC
With both the EIC and LafargeHolcim committed to building a net zero future, jointly hosting a EIC Corporate Day with some of the most innovative start-ups in Europe was an easy choice. According to Edelio “accelerating Green Construction is a massive challenge, one that we can’t do by ourselves.” Open innovations plays an important role for LafargeHolcim in that aspect: “With EIC, it’s an opportunity to get in touch with a database of SMEs that have already been funded. We can have the possibility to do pilots and implement these technologies from these SMEs and be able to accelerate innovation”, Edelio commented.
Victor added: “the beauty of EIC is that it is bringing us new Startups that were previously unknown to us. They already received some funding, which is showcasing the trust that the EIC has in these companies. For us, they are not at a very early stage as they already got a quite significant amount of funding. The EIC helped them start flying and our role now is to offer these companies the platform, the ecosystem and the expertise of our engineers to make them really fly. That’s why I really like this initiative!”
At the end of the day both the SMEs as well as LafargeHolcim were hoping to foster new partnerships and initiate pilots. As what would make this event a success, Edelio and Victor commented that “it was a very-high level event”. “The filters used by the EIC experts give a very high-quality selection of SMEs. Now we’ve ranked 5 to 6 very interesting SMEs and hope to selected 2 to 4 of them towards a pilot-phase. We’re quite happy with the results of today so we’re sure some success stories will come out of it.”
Pitches, one-to-one’s and hopefully a partnership
Two of the attended SMEs were Danish SHUTE and Netherland’s-based Bottomline. Shute, represented by Kristian Rode, Head of Sales & Marketing, has developed a novel polymer optic fiber (POF) sensor system that, due to its properties, can be used in a wide range of hard or soft engineering structures, such as concrete structures and composite materials. “This morning we pitched a solution that monitors the drying profile of wet concrete, so you can optimise the process of drying floors before you put wooden floors on top of them”, Kristian mentioned. With LafargeHolcim being one of the biggest suppliers to construction companies in the world, Kristian was pleased to be given this opportunity to pitch to them; “A company like LafargeHolcim would be an important reference customer to have, but also to learn from them by doing a pilot together and, hopefully, being able to use them as a go to market partner.” In addition to doing business with the corporate, the day also offered to Kristian some opportunities to discover potential synergies with fellow EIC-beneficiaries: “It was good to see different ways to assist construction and the supplies to the construction industries. It was great to see so many interesting startups working in this area, and it will be also interesting to get in contact with other SMEs to do some collaboration as I’ve seen a few that are interesting”.
Bottomline, represented by CEO Leon van Rijswijk, also pitched their company to LafargeHolcim. Leon pitched their software platform, BX which “enables the concept of automated real time scheduling. Based on proprietary AI algorithms and a 24/7 running solid platform, it connects the various stakeholders of the supply chain into a new marketplace, where real time data are converted into more efficient trucking operations and real-time communication is achieved. Leon saw the event as an opportunity to move into different verticals, seeing as “the cement industries has a big added value and LafargeHolcim is one of the biggest companies in this field”. “I only apply to events where I believe we can bring added-value, and this was definitely one of them.” Leon believes his platform could be valuable to LafageHolcim, noting: “there should be an interest, although I don’t know how they perceived my presentation. All in all, I liked the day and set-up: pitches, one-to-one sessions and hopefully a partnership in the future!”
More EIC Corporate Days?
Check out our Corporate Day Highlight report and video for more impressions. Do you want to pitch to corporates and exchanges ideas yourselves? The EIC regularly hosts Corporate Days, for the moment fully online. Applications for the EIC Corporate Day with German corporates on Digitalization are still open. Those wishing to meet with Europe’s largest corporates and fellow EIC-beneficiaries, please keep an eye on our calendar.
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.