From Monday the 12th till Tuesday evening on the 13th of November 2018, several start-ups and SMEs gathered at the Le Mess restaurant in Brussels to assess their ability to attract investment. EUREKA, in cooperation with the Hanken Business School in Finland organised a boot camp for this very purpose as part of EUREKA’s new Investment Readiness programme. Participants from all over the world where introduced to tricks of the trade from a practical and academic angle, workshopping new ideas with their fellow participants and finally presented their improved investment decks before the entire audience. Here are a few of the participants and their opinions about the programme:
Khadijat Abdulkadir, Digital African Woman – DAW, Belgium
Her company is singular in its approach, because it focuses on the individual journey of each African woman in the digital world of today and how it impacts and shapes her life, rather than a collective vision of African women. African women make up over 74% of SMEs on the African continent, but few of them sell their goods beyond their immediate local surroundings. With DAW, they yearly receive a six weeks training in technology driven business models and digital sales and are then onboarded onto the DAW e-commerce platform to access the new markets. The knowledge of local logistics and transport lines is crucial in making DAW the front runner in African e-commerce.
“The EUREKA Investment Readiness programme gets you very comfortable with finding what you need and how you can get it. The programme really forces you to think about and rethink your business and get serious about your investment presentation. Before my participation, my investment presentation was not the most important thing on my agenda and I did not put as much effort and attention to detail into it. The programme gives you more confidence and trains you into investment readiness. It got me to actually do my pitch deck and continuously improve it throughout the entire programme.”
Archie Watts-Farmer, Litus Industrial Ltd., United Kingdom
Litus Industrial was formed to slow climate change. 30% of global CO2 emissions stems from engine exhaust waste. Litus creates engines out of ceramic, because they are far more efficient than conventional engines. The latter waste about 30% of the energy they generate, because the engines need to be cooled, while they are running. Ceramic engines do not suffer from this problem. The company predicts that their engines will be twice as efficient as conventional engines, with double the energy output and half the CO2 emissions. The ultimate goal is for their engines to be fuelled by hydrogen for zero-emission operation, once there is the necessary refuelling infrastructure.
“I found the different points of view very interesting. The other participants’ ideas and experiences were very enriching, as were the presentations by the Hanken School of Economics team and the feedback I received on my pitch deck. Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve taken away is that in order to obtain investment you must be able to empathise with the investor audience and adapt your pitch accordingly.”
Peter Maas, Specs, The Netherlands
Specs provides chemistry and chemical services for pharmaceutical and biotech industry such as handling, storage, procurement, synthesis and quality control. Their work primarily is b2b between suppliers, academia, biotech and pharma. They also collaborate with universities and biotech partners on research programs to develop new drug candidates.
“Some parts of the programme were incredibly inspiring, while some went a bit over my head. The programme makes you think about your company and how it works compared to other company types and your competition.
I particularly liked the presentation of Markus Wartiovaara, because it made you think about the “why”. Why and how do you run your business and how do you communicate that to different audiences?”
Grzegorz Garbacz, Physolution, Germany, Poland
Physolution is a company specialised in characterisation of drugs before clinical trials in order to predict the performance of oral medicine (tablets) and determine the right dosage.
Using technology developed in-house, they are able to reduce the risk of therapy treatment and clinical trials by 90%. Their advantages are risk reduction in treatment failure, as well as shortening the time to market entry for new drugs by at least one year, which is particularly important for their customers, which includes medium and big pharma and biotech companies. Physolution effectively helps to make oral drugs safer for the ageing population.
“For us this was very interesting, because we have been a company for nine years, growing only organically thus far. We now have 20 employees and we need to think about the sustainability for our business. We want to increase our market share and grow through strategic investment.
This event allows me to evaluate our chances and look beyond my laboratory googles to learn how to think more like an entrepreneur, than just a scientist. Are we in need of investment and are we investment ready? These are the questions we are interested in answering and the EUREKA Investment Readiness programme is helping us figure this out.
My business is growing and I need to learn to be able to provide the leadership and the financial inflow to keep it going and growing.”
Chris Cassar, Dem Dx, United Kingdom
The aim is to reduce the amount of misdiagnosis and enhance medical teaching/education worldwide.
They are already active in a series of medical clinics in Kenya, helping their nurse practitioners diagnose. They are also working with King’s College Medical School to train their medical students in paediatrics and Moorfields Eye-Hospital in London to improve their diagnosis of ophthalmological pathologies.
The app follows the same path a doctor would, but also benefits from machine learning as the number of diagnoses increases over time. Over 200 experts in their respective medical fields contributed to the creation of the pathways in the application that allow for more accurate diagnosis by healthcare professionals.
“It has been great to meet other businesses at potentially different stages of development. Seeing the issues that come up and the mistakes that others make is also very enriching. I take away a renewed enthusiasm to make my business work.”
Ana Tomašek – EUREKA Programme Manager of the Investment Readiness Programme
“We are happy to provide soft skills training our entrepreneurs and this programme is an excellent example of future EUREKA activities for start-ups and SMEs, which supports them beyond our grants for commercialisation and enables them to attract private investment more efficiently and sustainably.”