On 19 January 2023, the COST Association, jointly with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), hosted a workshop to help interested COST Innovators Grant recipients prepare applications for the EIT Jumpstarter scheme in 2023.
Following the Memorandum of Understanding signature last year, both institutions agreed to share their initiatives to support researchers and innovators identify areas of collaboration based on common interests.
The EIT Jumpstarter scheme is designed for researchers with innovative ideas that want to take their research to the next level. While the COST Innovators Grant (CIG) is an initiative that aims to build bridges between research and take-up at the market, product, service, or societal level. This is the first time a pre-Jumpstarter training targets CIG researchers and innovators who have a keen interest in developing their ideas with EIT support.
This workshop allowed the CIG participants to pitch their research networks and evaluate the commercial application and societal solutions that could be explored following the EIT team’s advice. Those wanting to join skill programme can choose which category of support they would like to receive e.g., training provision, content development, financial aid or dissemination. The event was also a great demonstration of the interdisciplinary nature of COST, when an expert in grape genomics can discuss about federated learning with a neuroscientist.
A pitching session was embedded into an agenda alongside COST presentation by Katalin Alföldi, COST Policy Officer, and Angelo Basteris, COST Science Officer, and an EIT team introduction to the Jumpstarter initiative followed by an interactive workshop.
Essential messages were conveyed by the participants on their needs and challenges. COST researchers and innovators emphasised the challenges they face and the need to get support in developing business models for their collective evidence-based results. They also raised numerous questions linked with their research fields such as standardisation, sharing secured data and data ownership, regulation, ethics, Intellectual Property, prototypes, and when to enter the market with their innovative ideas.
Luke Incorvaja, Innovation Officer at EIT, focused his presentation on the EIT’s unique innovation model. The EIT brings together leading organisations from business, education, and research to form dynamic cross-border partnerships known as EIT Innovation Communities. There are currently nine Innovation Communities, and each focuses on a different societal challenge that make it easy for COST researchers to identify the community they are interested in.
The EIT Jumpstarter programme lasts seven months, during which selected start-ups work with mentors to dive deep into business modeling and planning. Based on the developed business plan, the start-ups are evaluated, and the six best are qualified for the Grand Final – this year hosted in Krakow, Poland – where they compete for the prize of 10,000 EUR in each category.
During the following interactive session, Dóra Marosvölgyi introduced the EIT Jumpstarter programme and its goal to push early-stage innovators from emerging European regions into the market to help their scientific ideas and innovations turn into successful businesses. She also presented the applying and mentoring system that will help beginners to set steps in preparing their project development. In 2022, among the 668 applicants, from 26 countries, 19 start-ups were created.
Europe lacks the talent and skilled labour force necessary to properly leverage the new technologies to enable green and digital transition. Furthermore most researchers and innovators face similar challenges, they hold enormous innovation potential with bright ideas and scientific mind, but the evidence-based results remain within their scientific communities and lab. They often don’t know where to start to evaluable the business potential their research results could hold. This is where EIT Jumpstarter and COST CIGS come in, helping researchers take the next step and supporting taking their idea to the market. This event represents an important step towards addressing this challenge and open up opportunities to develop the skills needed.
This article was first published on 23 January by COST Association.