2020 EIC Investor Programme Wrap-Up: Innovating to succeed, pitching to grow
2020 was undoubtedly a year full of surprises. In March 2020, when 19 innovators were preparing a trip to Paris for the first EIC Investor Day of the year, COVID-19 knocked at the door, cancelling all the plans. In a matter of weeks, the presentations and pitches that should have taken place on large stages were done in front of pixelated video cameras from laptops, while the packed audience was replaced by several unmute participants with their kids around. Pitching in front of investors was definitely a challenge, but this global experiment brought worthy results. Here are a few takeaways from our 2020 EIC Investor Programme.
Investments must go on
When the European Innovation Council (EIC) launched the first online ePitching, it couldn't have imagined that this remote option would become the rule a mere two years later. In 2019, the short online ePitching sessions looked like a good alternative for investors' busy agendas and startup's CEOs looking for investment opportunities. In 2020, the Coronavirus outbreak transformed the digital landscape in 'the new normal', and every event turned into e-events.
In 2020, the EIC organised 10 ePitching sessions, gathering innovators and investors from various sectors: cybersecurity, agritech, health, mobility, ICT and Fintech are just a few examples of the topics covered. After each round of pitches, the investors could ask a range of questions, ultimately vote for the 'best pitch', and join pre-arranged one-to-one meetings to discuss possible follow-ups with the SMEs.
"These events offer us the opportunity to get the word out there quickly. As a small company, it's difficult to stay ahead of the noise. This event was a great way to put ourselves in front of a large group of investors.", commented the CEO of the company Smart Separations Hugo Macedo, after pitching at the Investor ePitching focused on COVID-19 solutions in April 2020.
The 4 EIC Investor Days of 2020 followed the same virtual set-up. In March, the Investor Day with BPI France on Deeptech was the first EIC physical event that got cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. The edition immediately moved to digital boardrooms, and it was spread out over three different days, in which the SMEs got the opportunity to pitch in front of 40 to 50 different investors at a time.
Between October and December, the EIC organised 3 additional Investor Days: the first one with Euronext Dublin, the second focused on the EU Green Deal, and, right before Christmas, the event dedicated to Women In Tech 2.0. The three editions included multiple digital panels, seminars, pitching sessions and one-to-one meetings with a vast array of investors, proving that it's also possible to bring valuable discussions in the online sphere.
"Events like the EIC Investor Days are really important, people can network and talk to their peers about their experiences. These days really make it easier for people to succeed." As noted by John Tracey, former CEO of Trinity Venture Capital, during the EIC Investor Day with Euronext, 20-21 October 2020.
From a winning pitch to a closed deal
BuntPlanet was one of the EIC beneficiaries that received a positive follow-up after pitching in front of investors. 33 innovative companies led by women went on to promote women entrepreneurs' access to finance, among them Ainhoa Lete, CEO of BuntPlanet. The startup received two investment proposals by the end of the session. Eventually a proposal from Rising Tide Europe successfully materialised after a very professional due diligence.
Rising Tide Europe programme is part of a global movement to increase women's participation in angel investing as an asset class. According to Ainhoa Lete, the main advantage of the partnership, in addition to the actual investment, is their newly-granted access to Rising Tide Europe’s network of female C-level investors. For example, during the investment process, the new partner has already helped BuntPlanet with its introduction to the French market.
"Attending the EIC Investor Days was key for meeting this incredible group of women investors called Rising Tide Europe. The deal that came out of this represents the incorporation of the first international shareholder in our company, a massive step forward", noted Ainhoa Lete, CEO of BuntPlanet.
To be continued
2021 is starting with many events in the pipeline, and new initiatives are being cooked under the EIC Investor Programme. The first ePitching to Investors of 2021 will happen in two weeks and will be focused on Manufacturing. In February, another ePitching will gather innovative Agritech-solutions during an online event and in March it’s time for an EIC Investor Day focused on ICT and digitalisation.