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eM-POWERing SME Clusters to help SMEs to overcome the valley of death

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MPowerBIO (eM-POWERing SME Clusters to help SMEs to overcome the valley of death)

Reporting period: 2021-11-01 to 2022-11-30

European clusters need to be better suited to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) overcome the valley of death – the difficult task of finding sufficient investment to get from idea to business. This is the main focus in the new project MPowerBIO.

Many SMEs experience that even though they have a good idea or a good product, they cannot get an investor. They need to be able to pitch their idea perfectly, to the right investors and at the right time. Now SMEs can get help in this new project MPowerBIO.
In the ambitious MPowerBIO programme, there will be 10 training the trainers’ events for a total of 90 clusters across the bioeconomy, covering most of Europe. The events are set up to help clusters understand how SMEs can obtain capital and grow.

The MPowerBIO project will obtain feedback from clusters, SMEs and investors on the concrete challenges they have regarding investments. From these experiences, an online platform will be set up containing digital tools for evaluating investment readiness.
Online training modules and regional trainers’ events will be organised to build the capacity of clusters to train their SME members and give them the best possibilities for preparing and presenting high quality projects to investors.
The best SME projects from these events will be selected by investors, and invited to one of two European finals, which are based on the European Bioeconomy Venture Forum model, run by several of the consortium members. At the final, the selected companies will present their ideas to a panel of investors and experts from large organisations and venture funds in Europe, with the aim of attracting capital to grow and develop their business.

In the course of the project we have engaged 83 SME clusters and 16 other organisations in the project. A total of 231 SMEs were engaged. We developed and offered a Capacity Building Programme for clusters and a Business Support Programme for SMEs. 10 regional and 2 pan-European events improved the pitching skills for the participating companies. 2 Final events were organised - one in 2021 and one in 2022 with a total of 66 pitching companies and 64 participating investors.
The project has run through the development phase and two iterations of the Cluster Capacity Building Programme and the SME Business Support Programme.

The Cluster Capacity Building Programme engaged 83 European Bioeconomy clusters in 15 courses designed to enable the clusters to better help their SMEs raise capital.

In two iterations (spring 2021 and spring 2022), SMEs within the bioeconomy sector who are looking for investment had the opportunity to participate in 15 different courses which all have been designed to prepare the SMEs for seeking investment. Topics such as IPR Protection for bio-based SMEs, customer needs, competitor analysis, sales and marketing channels as well as how to create and deliver a compelling investor pitch deck have been covered trough the Business Support Programme.

From July to September 2021 MPowerBIO organised 5 online ‘bootcamps’ for companies looking for investment.
From July to September 2021 MPowerBIO organised 7 physical, hybrid or online 'bootcamps'.

Through the events companies got:

Knowledge of what it takes to become attractive to an investor
Pitch training
Opportunity to participate in a pitch competition with competent judges
The chance to win a seat at the Tech Tour Food & Bioeconomy Venture Forum 2021 or 2022

Both iteration was concluded with a final event giving the 'winning' companies the chance to pitch in front of a panel of investors and experts. The 2021 final event took place in Aarhus, Denmark and the 2022 event was organised in Wuppertal, Germany.
Expected Impact 1: foster an increase of private investments into the bio-based sector through an effective cooperation between SMEs and potential investors.
Expected Impact 2: improve the involvement and the role of SME clusters as a reference point for SMEs to cooperate, exchange expertise and meet potential business opportunities to implement successful bio-based projects
Other expected impacts:
• Improve the competitiveness of the bioeconomy in Europe
• An economic boost for rural areas

More specifically, MPowerBIO, by helping clusters and SMEs, can in fact help them to deliver their own impacts, and helping the overall bioeconomy innovation system to contribute to the SDGs targets. Considering the large number of SMEs supported, and their diversity, such support is both broad and deep.

Furthermore, at project level, MPowerBIO contributes to SDG 17 “Partnerships For The Goals” as the consortium partners create a network of collaborations with SME Clusters, SMEs and investors. The project also contributes to SDG 4 “Quality Education” as it provides training in the form of webinars through its Capacity Building Program (CBP) for SME Clusters and its Business Support Program (BSP) for SMEs. The project contributes to SDG 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth” as it is focused on providing information on finance to SMEs and Clusters so that their projects may succeed. The project also contributes to many of the other SDGs from assisting the various SMEs and Clusters involved and the innovative bio-based products that they are developing.
MPowerBIO team
Logo MPowerBIO
Info graphic
Final event Wuppertal - coordinator Britt Sandvad presenting