EIC Corporate Day with Roche: a new (virtual) way of collaborating
The European Innovation Council (EIC), in collaboration with F. Hoffmann-La Roche, organised a four-day long EIC Corporate Day, as part of a virtual Roche Innovation Summit, from 22 to 25 June 2020. The EIC Corporate Day, one of the flag-ship Business Acceleration Services provided by the EIC, gives the EIC-backed startups the opportunity to opportunity to bridge the gap with corporate representatives and explore new synergies, business opportunities and further collaborations with them.
The online EIC Corporate Day gathered 27 innovative EIC-backed SME’s, including 4 #EUvsVirus hackathon winners and was part of the virtual Roche Innovation Summit (all recordings are online #righNOW click), which in itself brought together over 2500+ participants, from over 100+ countries, and 128 partners/startups. After having previously organised a face-to-face Roche Corporate Day (in 2018), the current format was fully virtual. According to Alberto Tomatis, Digital InnovationLAB Director at Roche, quickly alternating the format to fully online event, showed the commitment of EIC and Roche towards innovation and start-ups: This was a clear expression of our shared passion. We push innovation and we don’t stop, not even for big obstacles. The Roche Innovation Summit and EIC Corporate Day(s) were all about a new way of collaborating, and creating strong links between corporates, SMEs, academics and governments. Alain Bindels, Head of Innovation Facilitation and Digitalization at Roche, who organizes since 5 years the Roche Innovation Summit and the newly established Roche Entrepreneurship Incubator Program starting after the summit believes that we need to connect entrepreneurs, patients, corporates and governments to build partnerships and learn from another (read story) : You’re part of a bigger ecosystem, collaboration doesn’t just happen. This is what I appreciate from EIC: the open mindset, the transparency and building collaborations between all the parties. These key ingredients were there two years ago, they are still present today and they will be critical for Roche’s future collaborations (Read story). With these ingredients you can build on ideas and EIC is an important partner to build future partnership models with.
Hacking the Hackathon
A new addition to the Corporate Day was the inclusion of four of the #EUvsVirus winners. Roche was also an important partner in the https://www.euvsvirus.org/#EUvsVirus hackathon, therefore partnering with the EIC and inviting these innovative start-ups was a logical next step. Alain joined the EUvsVirus hackathon after having contracted COVID-19 himself (Read personal story): I experienced COVID-19 myself. When I came out of this nightmare the word that resonated within me was solidarity: I wanted to make a positive contribution. That’s when EUvsVirus came along. 20.000 people coming together for the common good, that is inspiring. Boris Mihov, from Aidbind, one of the winners of the EUvsVirus, explained that the hackathon opened many doors, one of them being at the EIC Corporate Day. Attending the EIC Corporate Day with Roche was very valuable for us, seeing as we are looking for strategic partnerships. The pitching session was a great platform, going head-to-head with established start-ups and products. The Corporate Day commenced with an informal virtual get-to-together on Monday. For corporates and SMEs alike, it was a perfect way to start the week. Alberto noticed that this kind of kick-off was not so different than in a face-to-face event: It was very powerful, I really got the chance to meet people in an informal way. For Evelina Vagesjo, representing Ilya Pharma, it was also a perfect mood-setter: The kick-off on Monday reminded me about the informal get-together’s we had for previous Corporate Days. Everyone had a tough couple of months, so listening to everyone’s stories was energising and contagious. Anna Popova, from Aquarray, was also glad about this ice-breaker event: The kick-off meeting was a good addition. Networking, even though it’s not possible to meet in person.
After the pitching session on Tuesday during the Roche Innovation Summit, the SMEs had two days of one-to-one’s meetings with Roche representatives from several different business lines. The EIC-backed SMEs and these corporate representatives got matched before the event. For Evelina it was important that this has been done in advance: It makes everything more efficiently for all actors. Moreover, you don’t book a meeting with a company, but with a person. The format really facilitates that. David Alain Bloch from Legartis, agreed that having a calendar full of meetings was a key factor to the event’s success: It was motivating, that’s the goal, the thing you want to come out with.
From the virtual booth to the follow-up process
During the entire event, the SMEs had a virtual booth on the conference platform that stays online for one year, where they could showcase their company and products. Alain Bindels explained it was all about added value: We learned a lot from the last time. Back then the start-ups met a lot of people but didn’t know the names. The digital aspect made this easier. Every start-up now gets access to the contact details of everyone that visits their booth. The SMEs were also content with this aspect, as noted by both David as well as Evelina: To have a virtual booth was a great way to present ourselves and give a good first impression. Now we have more possibilities to get in touch with corporate representatives after the event and conduct possible follow-ups. Alberto was also impressed by the utility of this feature and highlighted the conversations that will come up after the virtual booth: Roche will definitely continue the conversation with some of them. Having the information from the virtual booth facilitates this even more.
Do you want to meet with corporates and exchanges ideas? 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.