EIC Corporate Day with Dutch giants: (wo)men with a plan
On 29 and 30 June 33 EIC-beneficiaries went on a digital tour of the Netherlands during the EIC Corporate Day with Dutch giants. During the event, the SMEs matched up and explored business opportunities and collaborations with four of the Netherlands’ largest corporates: Eneco, KPN, Rabobank and Unilever.
The four large corporates were brought together with the help of Cumulus Park, a collaborative innovation district in Amsterdam, and Corporate Venturing Network (CVN), a non-profit, peer-to-peer network of corporates and regional development organisations active in corporate venturing and open innovation. For Irene Duyn, program manager at Cumulus Park, it was an easy decision to host this day together with the EIC:
“The EIC didn’t organise a Corporate Day in the Netherlands yet and, together with CVN, we had a broad network, this is a great way to combine it.”
Having multiple corporates in one Corporate Day offers more opportunities and connections, in several sectors, both for the SMEs as well as the corporates “Netherland’s top innovators coming together in a familiar way” as Glenn Bijvoets and Jasper Ijzenbrandt from Eneco, one of the Netherlands’ largest energy providers, put it.
A wonderful source to tap into
For all corporates it was important to continue their scouting-activities during the past couple of months:
“We’re constantly on the look-out for new innovative solutions that we can extend to our corporate clients” as stated by Jens Blokland, Innovation Lead at Rabobank, the largest financial service provider in the Netherlands.
The same applied to Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, who are looking for companies to help them with their current challenges. Jos Tissen, Ecosystem Manager at Unilever, noted that “it is not always easy to find the right partner, you need to fish in the right pond. We know from experience that the EIC has good connections and a very strong network. It’s all in all a wonderful source to tap into”. For Rick van ‘t Hof, Start-up and Scale-up Scout at telecom provider KPN, having the opportunity to continue the progress of open innovation is very important, especially in these times: “We try to set up a whole ecosystem, not just with our start-ups and business colleagues, but also with other large corporates, investors, incubators and now the EIC. It’s a great opportunity to work together on an international scale.”
A level of maturity you won’t find anywhere else
After the opening session on Monday 29 June, which included a plenary with Jean-David Malo, director of the EIC, and Yousef Yousef, EIC Advisory Board Member, the corporates had the opportunity to watch all the SMEs pitch and engage in dedicated one-to-ones. According to Corina Kuiper, director and board member at CVN, the corporates are “interested in meeting new scale-ups, who have a track-record and the ability to keep the pace”. Luckily they got what they came for:
“I liked the maturity of the companies, they are all (wo)men with a plan. They had sales, international experience, you can’t call them start-ups, they were all scale ups. The EIC’s portfolio offers a level of maturity that many incubators and accelerators don’t offer” as stated by Corina.
Rick (KPN) for one, was pleased with the quality on display: “Some blew my mind, I saw SMEs with big potential for KPN. Sometimes you see a fit with a certain department but during the pitch you feel that you can make an even better fit.” Besides an opportunity to scout new SMEs, the Corporate Day also gave the chance for some corporates to re-evaluate companies they already knew. Jos (Unilever): “Some companies were already on our radar, but it was while since we learned about them. This day gave us new insights and we saw some positive developments in them.”
Time well spent
Vivien Dollinger, CEO of ObjectBox, and Pepi Mayordomo, Sales & Marketing at Cadel Deinking, were two of the SMEs participating in the EIC Corporate Day. For both beneficiaries it was the first time they attended an EIC Business Acceleration Services-event. For Vivien the grant was important, giving her the opportunity to solidify their position and do further research. However, she considers the Corporate Days “to be the most important instrument around”.
“Getting a grant is great in itself, but having access to corporates, potential customers and leads is even more important. Even if it’s just for sparring and getting insights on the corporate’s needs, it’s an amazing opportunity” she mentioned.
Getting in touch with exactly the right person is often noted as one of the main difficulties of doing business with corporates. The EIC Corporate Days offer pre-scheduled one-to-one’s, tailored-fitted to match both the corporate and the SME’s needs. For Pepi the Corporate Day offered “a great opportunity to communicate our benefits to a large corporate”. “Connecting with corporates that you have been matched with before results in time well spent. It saves time, which is a valuable commodity for both us and the corporates, and it’s efficient for all players”.
Curious for more impressions of our Corporate Days? Check out our Corporate Day Highlight report and video. Do you want to meet with corporates and exchanges ideas yourselves? The EIC regularly hosts Corporate Days, for the moment fully online, with applications running through the EIC Community. Those wishing to meet with Europe’s largest corporates and fellow EIC-beneficiaries, please keep an eye on our calendar.