Bridging the gap between innovators and large companies can prove to be a vital strategy for business acceleration and growth in Europe. To this end, the European Innovation Council (EIC) has invested more than € 2,5 billion in 6000 small innovative companies. Cumulus Park and the Corporate Venturing Network have teamed up to connect corporates in the Netherlands to this network of high quality scale-ups with innovative solutions.
At the end of April we kicked off the EIC program to explore business opportunities with SME’s and scale-ups from EIC’s portfolio with four of the Dutch largest corporates: Eneco, KPN, Rabobank and Unilever. Together with the Corporate Venturing Network, Cumulus Park organized EIC’s first matching program in the Netherlands. Due to COVID-19 developments the full program was organized online.
At the start of the program the corporate challenges were launched to the European scale-up community, with more than 260 companies applying to the topics raised. A selection of 33 companies were coached and prepared for a number of business meetings with corporates on June 29th and 30th.
The opening event on June 29th was open to interested visitors from outside the program. Jean David Malo – director of EIC – announced the SME instrument has transformed to the ‘EIC Accelerator’, offering optional equity investment in addition to a grant (up to € 17,5 million) for SME’s to scale-up even faster. Corina Kuijper – director of CVN – presented the first results of the Erasmus University study on the impact of COVID-19 on corporate venturing. These keynotes were followed by a panel discussion where Yousef Yousef (member of EIC advisory board), Vareska van de Vrande (Prof. Collaborative Innovation & Business Venture), Glenn Bijvoets (innovation leaders Eneco Strategy & innovation) and Marie-Jose van de Boomgaard (liaison manager start-ups & scale-ups KPN) discussed developments in corporate venturing and scale-up collaboration. The first day was rounded up with network and speed dating sessions, where all participants got to know each other.
The second day of the event was fully focused on reverse pitches by the corporates and pitches by the scale-ups, as well as in-depth business meetings to explore further collaboration between corporate specialists and scale-ups.
The first matching program between Dutch corporates and European scale-ups is considered a success. Jos Tissen, ecosystem manager at Unilever, noted that “it is not always easy to find the right partner, you need to fish in the right pond. We know from experience that the EIC has good connections and a very strong network. It’s all in all a wonderful source to tap into.” Corina Kuiper, director and board member at CVN, stated: “I liked the maturity of the companies, they are all (wo)men with a plan. They had sales, international experience, you can’t call them start-ups, they were all scale ups. The EIC’s portfolio offers a level of maturity that many incubators and accelerators don’t offer.” Rick van ‘t Hof, start-up and scale-up scout at KPN, was pleased with the quality on display: “Some blew my mind, I noticed SME’s with big potential for KPN. Sometimes you see a fit with a certain department, but during the pitch you feel that you can make an even better fit.”
Are you interested to join future editions? Contact Irene Duyn, Program Manager at Cumulus Park Studio.