EIC Corporate Corner with Trelleborg: Mingling with the most innovative EIC-startups
The European Innovation Council (EIC) in the role of the facilitator of the EIC Corporate Days, bridges the gap between EIC-funded innovator and large firms with an exclusive curated acceleration service. In this new series of articles, we will discover what these corporates are looking for and what is their approach to innovation. The first guest of this EIC Corporate Corner is Trelleborg Wheel Systems, represented by the President, Paolo Pompei (P.P), and Marketing Innovation Senior Manager, Luca Giovannini (L.G.).
On 25 & 26 May 2021, the European Innovation Council (EIC) in collaboration with Trelleborg Wheel Systems, a key global supplier of tires and complete wheels, brought together 15 EIC-beneficiaries for yet another EIC Corporate Day. Attending participants had the chance to pitch their innovative solutions or products in front of the Trelleborg experts, covering areas like connected tires & vehicles, green and renewable materials, digital solutions, and smart factories & production processes.
Can you tell us more about Trelleborg’s approach to (open) innovation ?
P.P.: The innovation journey started in 1905, with Trelleborg being a pioneer in the polymer industry. When we talk about innovation today, for us it is particularly important to keep the motto “produce more with less” meaning we provide added value for our customers by making sure they can be more productive & efficient. Innovation in the past 50 years was about designing well-performing product. Now the attention shifted towards making it more efficient, using the possibility that the digital world today is offering. Innovation is about sustainability, products that have the possibility to use fully recyclable material. I want to make sure that we have a product that is using materials that are fully recyclable. That is strategic target for us.
L.G.: Most of our innovations are being prepared by our R&D department. What we have noticed over the last few years is that the speed of innovation, especially when it comes to digital services and products, is extremely fast. Therefore, there was a need to open our collaboration to third parties, from institutions and local organisations to other industries, and build strategic partnerships. The importance of these partnerships is to have common strategic views and to be customer based. Open innovation is part of our strategy and our roadmap for the next years.
Recently, you teamed up with the EIC to co-host an EIC Corporate Day. Can you explain the motivation behind joining forces with the EIC?
P.P.: The motivation for joining forces with the EIC is the possibility to detect and interact with the companies that are very often difficult to be identified. The EIC is a facilitator that has given us the opportunity to meet the best performing startups in Europe, and to accelerate their development process. The experience of participating in the Corporate Day with the EIC was extremely important. It was perfectly reflecting our needs to join forces with third parties and to identify people and companies with great ideas that can really change the innovation speed of companies like Trelleborg.
L.G.: It is often that I receive LinkedIn messages from organisations requesting funds, partnership or collaboration. The EIC is a reliable source and offers the possibility of having a full overview of companies that are solid, professional and have passed many stages within the EIC processes. We know how much the European Commission and the EIC have invested in innovation and that's why this partnership was a very good match for us.
What mindset and skills do you look for in companies you bring to your ecosystem?
P.P.: If we want to really leverage the experience of those companies, we should keep an open mind and not have any preferences. We need to make sure that we understand what is the innovation power of the product and the solutions that the companies are offering, without focusing on specific skills, attitude, or communications. In that way, we are not risking to “kill” the innovation power.
L.G.: The key to success is the execution. You can have a brilliant idea, but without the right person in the right place to be able to execute the idea, the road to success is difficult. My experience has always been that at the end, the ability of the entrepreneur to execute the plan is what makes the idea into something achievable and concreate. And that is what is creating value for the startup and for the customers.
What type of partnerships are you looking for with startups?
P.P.: Also concerning partnerships we should not have limitations; it is strictly dependent on the project. At the end of the day, the idea should drive the business model or the way we invest/partner with a company; otherwise, we might lose the opportunity to something great.
L.G.: Officially when we launched the challenge, we were looking for industrial partnerships. But as Paolo said, we don't want to limit ourselves. And of course, when the two teams start working together the outcome can be the creation of a partnership.
Any advice/tips for companies that want to work with you?
P.P.: First of all, to all the startups: don't stop believing in your idea. If your idea is valuable, make sure that you communicate that successfully. We have noticed during the Corporate Day that sometimes the most innovative idea is not presented in the best way. Secondly, the innovative and good ideas with effective communication can make a company fly much higher than even expected.
L.G.: During the 5’ elevator pitch, companies should make sure that the pitch is tailored to the client and to his need. This creates a different feeling and perception in such a brief time, it values the client and keeps the audience attentive.
More EIC Corporate Days?
Want to have the opportunity to create win-win situations with Europe’s largest corporates? The EIC regularly hosts Corporate Days, for the moment fully online. Applications for the EIC Corporate Day with Merck will open early July. For further events please keep an eye on our BAS calendar. For more impressions and info on EIC Corporate Days check out our EIC Corporate Day Highlight report and video.