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Scale-up Champions: Scale up innovative businesses across the EU

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Scale-up Champions (Scale-up Champions: Scale up innovative businesses across the EU)

Reporting period: 2021-03-01 to 2022-05-31

Scale-up Champions’ mission has been to help startups and innovative businesses across the EU to scale up and achieve market success, both at home and abroad. The project aimed to leverage the strengths of different growing European ecosystems and the opportunities they offer, while contributing to the development of standardized growth routes for deep tech start-up in Europe. It was expected to do so by connecting different European deep-tech start-up ecosystems and supporting cross-border activities.
The unique and international consortium of Scale-up Champions contribute to the achievement of the project’s main goals, have been reached:
- Two editions of the Startup-Corporate scouting and matchmaking search have been completed. In the first edition, 21 corporates were recruited in total, posing 57 challenges, and 68 startups, of which 59 were matched with the corporates. Of those collaborations, 8 of them continue even after the programme has been completed. Between the first and second edition several internal partner workshops were held to gather feedback and improve the programme. This monitoring and improvement of procedures has continued throughout the project in order to collect a set of lessons learned and good practices. In the second edition, launched in February 2021, 26 corporates participated, launching 51 challenges, and 61 startups, where 44 matchings were held. This entire programme provided the startup ecosystems in Europe with relevant up to date tools and practices for networking, learning and cooperative investment management. Moreover, it contributed to the creation of a framework and scheme of tools and support for corporations and startups that can be replicated across different EU countries. Moreover to contributing to the theoretical framework of the relationship between startups and corporates with the articles of the programme presented at specialised conferences.
- Three rounds of the Investment Readiness programme have been completed. This programme helped the participating startups to improve their investment-readiness and market reach, their pitching skills and their capability to expand to foreign markets, as well as it broadened its network extensively. In addition, the programme set the basis, as a success case, to establish cross-border collaborations and overcome language and cultural barriers in different startup ecosystems. It contributes to increase the connectedness among members of deep-tech startup ecosystems and their companies (startups and scale-ups) and to the larger European business ecosystem seeking maximum synergies.
- Five Investment Ready Scale-up Champions Demo Days were organized in total during the whole IRP. These events served to stimulate European investments in deep-tech digital sectors through increasing the number of cross-border investments. 373 people registered for all of these events, of which 209 were investors, 116 startups and 48 partners.
- A Startup Ecosystem Catalogue was elaborated, featuring comprehensive information about the state of the art regarding resources and tools available in five growing deep tech startup ecosystems: Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Spain. The catalogue comprises insights into topics like culture, establishment and investment landscape for each ecosystem as well as a set of available resources in those ecosystems, such as the best co-working spaces, hubs, accelerators, incubators, investors, and funding entities, as well as the top startups and the most relevant events and activities in these five vibrant countries. By shining a light on what is happening in those startup scenes, Scale-up Champions contributes to boost international collaboration and to uncover the best opportunities for deep tech entrepreneurship.
- Market Discovery Missions serve as introductory tour to 5 different start-up ecosystems (Barcelona, Copenhagen, Kaunas, Poznan and Tallinn). Two separate approaches (one for an online version and another for an on-site tour) were developed due to the COVID-19 situation. For an on-line MDT a 5-day agenda was developed, covering 2-day trainings about the local business culture and market (presentations, panel discussions) and 3-day meeting sessions (1:1 meetings). Each country had to take into account local specificities when compiling and assembling the agenda. For an on-site MDT 3-4-day agenda was recommended, taking into account entry and return flights the day before and after. To get the most benefit for the start-ups, it was recommended to organise an on-site tour in the framework of some major start-up conference. MDT supported 157 companies (on-line 124 companies, on-site 33) and 33 ecosystem players. 10 missions organized – 6 on-line and 4 on-site.
- Pan-European incubation programme’s implementation was interrupted first by COVID-19 pandemic and later by Russian aggression on Ukraine. Because of above consortium decided to organized an on-line programme (instead of soft-landing stays) in September 2020. One round of pan-European incubation per ecosystem was organized (5 programmes) with 22 start-ups taking part. The execution of the second round of activities had been postponed until autumn 2021 and because of CODIV-19, by beginning of 2022. The main reason to delay it was that after many lockdowns and suffering from on-line fatigue the aim was to organize on-site events. In the end this plan was also modified. Due to the fluctuating circumstances (COVID, Ukrainian war), and having in mind pilots of both Market Discovery Tours and pan-European incubation (that were held on-line) consortium decided to deliver the same quality of services in a different format.
Scale-up Champions expects to unlock the full potential of European deep-tech startups’ by connecting them with mentors, investors and corporates across Europe, as they are the main stakeholders that can boost their growth and market scale up. The project is bridging the gap between different European startup ecosystems, leveraging the strengths of each one and applying a holistic knowledge-sharing approach to create a joint thriving ecosystem in Europe. This will stimulate European investments in deep-tech digital sectors, boosting economic development, creating jobs and, ultimately, bringing Europe to the forefront of innovation.
Some of the specific objectives of the project are:
- To foster cross-border activities between different European startup ecosystems and increase the connection between incubators in Estonia, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, and Spain, through active experience sharing and collaboration.
- Foster the fundraising capacity of deep-tech startups through an active investment readiness program and creating working networks between investors and startups
- Foster startup-corporate collaboration through the provision of a framework, necessary tools and support for both types of companies.
- Provide investors and the deep-tech startup community in Europe with relevant tools and practices for networking, learning and cooperative investment management.
Scale-up Champions’ actions will contribute to the main goals of the Startup Europe for Growth and Innovation Radar programme to help startups achieve market success and mature the innovation excellence of high potential innovators. This will boost the creation of new jobs and high growth businesses and support their growth on a pan-European and international level.
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