Events - EIC Investor Day on Digitalisation of the European Industry: Four winners make a whole
The EIC Investor Day on Digitalisation of the European Industry, which took place on 23-24 March 2021, focused on innovative new services or products in the field of Enterprise Software, Artificial Intelligence, Internet-of-things & Cloud computing and Robotics. In total 32 digital-led companies had the opportunity to pitch to more than 30 VC firms. Furthermore, two panel discussions debated about AI, and the opportunities digitalisation can create for Europe.
The European Commission (EC) has been supporting the digitalisation of the European industry through the Digitising European Industry initiative (DEI), launched in 2016. Industry is one of the pillars of the European economy, accounting for over 45 million jobs EU-wide and more than €11 trillion turnover. New technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, big data and cloud computing are pushing a new industrial revolution, which could lead to an added annual EU-wide revenue of over EUR 110 billion.
The EC is working on a digital transformation that will benefit everyone, putting people first and opening new opportunities for businesses all over Europe. One of the main pillars in this aspect is the ambition to enable a vibrant community of innovative and fast-growing SMEs to access finance and accelerate their business. And that's exactly where the EIC Investor Days come in. After two days of intense pitching to more than 30 top-tier investors, four EIC innovators were awarded ‘Best pitch’ within the four categories. Let's meet the four lucky winners.
Artificial Intelligence/quantum computing: Qblox
Qblox is a Dutch based company active in the field of quantum computing which is trying to build new and very complex types of computers. Specifically, Niels Bultink, CEO & Co-founder, mentioned that “the company is supplying computer companies with electronics and software, which are able to control a huge amount of quantum bits and thereby paving the way for quantum computing at industrial scale.” Commenting on the EIC Investor Day, Niels added: “The event exceeded my expectations. Initially we were unsure, seeing as quantum computing is relatively new within the digitalization field, but, actually, it turned out to be quite relevant. We gained key insights and contacts, so compliments to the organisation committee and panel.”
IoT and Cloud computing: OpenNebula
If you are looking for a powerful, but easy-to-use, open source platform for your private, hybrid or edge cloud infrastructure, OpenNebula is the right company. Alberto Marti, Open Source Community Manager, mentioned that “the EIC funding and support to our ONEedge project is helping us to innovate and to create the first European open source edge computing platform”. Besides the financial support, Alberto also stressed that “there are some other opportunities that are crucial for European technological companies to reach the next level; and that involves networking, contacts with potential investors and partners, and also some orientation in terms of what other units and departments within the European Commission and the European institutions are interested in supporting digital innovation.”
Enterprise software: PXL Vision
Today’s digital age is facing many challenges when it comes to personal information and digital identity. Billions of data records are stolen every year and large amounts of revenues are lost because there is a lack of trust in the counterparty. Karim Nemr, CBO of PXL Vision, explained that “the software platform we provide is based on computer vision and machine learning and allows companies to verify the identity of their users in 30 seconds”. PXL Vision is the Swiss market leader in identity verification with customers like the SwissID and other industry leaders across verticals. PXL Vision operates in a fast-growing market and has proven that it can compete on an international level. The “first-time” exposure to the EIC events and trainings left him with a great first impression noting that “it was beneficial and there was high participation of potential partners”.
Robotics: Automato Agricultural Robotics
Last but not least, Automato Agricultural Robotics (Automato). The vision of Automato is to help solve the international agricultural employment crisis, by developing autonomous, efficient, and affordable robots for every farmer. In other words, Eyal Udassin, CTO of the company, said “we are trying to help farmers with affordable robots to bridge the gap between the workers that they need and the workers that they have available”. Eyal shared some of the obstacles that the agricultural sector is facing, noting that the sector “is a high-risk field to be active in. From an investor’s point of view, it makes much more sense to reduce risk by investing, i.e. in a software company. But we persist because we know the problems of farmers are very real and it affects a lot of people. So even if the investors aren't rushing into this, we will be there, persistent until they feel comfortable with it too.”
Wrap-up from panels
In addition to the four pitching sessions, there were two panel discussions about AI and the opportunities digitalisation can bring for industry in Europe. The first panel, on AI, was composed of investors such as Hermann Hauser, Co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners and member of EIC Board of Directors, Ekaterina Almasque, General Partner at OpenOcean,, entrepreneur Jama Nateqi, founder and CEO at Symptoma GmbH and researcher Panos Trahanias, Professor of Computer Science at University of Crete and Head of the Robotics Lab at FORTH. They debated on how to build excellent research and create a pipeline of European startups to transform them into global leaders. The panellists discussed some of the solutions, including the funding gap, the need for a more entrepreneurial mindset at a research stage and having more role models, and how the EIC is aiming to tackle this with their services for startups and scaleups.
In the second panel composed by investors such as Marie-Hélène Ametsreiter - Lead Partner, Industrial Tech, Michal Natora investment director in Industrial Information Technology at Emerald Technology Ventures, Peter Löfgren CEO growth hub SynerLeap powered by ABB and Dr. Markus Große Böckmann – managing director and co-founder of Oculavis GmbH emphasized the importance of startups in the digitisation of industry but also the hurdles they encounter, such as funding gap. Even though the investment landscape saw a nine-fold increase of industrial tech between 2014-2020, it still represents only 3% of total European investments. Furthermore, even though the later stage investments and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) show an increasing trend, they are still dominated by US and Asian investors. To improve it is crucial to have a healthy ecosystem, to leverage each other’s strength, remove frictions and build trust. Last but not least, all panellists agreed that sustainability is thé topic of the upcoming years.
Sustainability is a great priority for Europe, and for the EIC, as we dedicated a specific call to the Green Deal last year and supported the companies in portfolio with investors, corporate and procurer events on this topic. The next EIC ePitching event with BPI and other important investors is focused on Cleantech and smart energy and takes place on 20 April 2021 between 13.30 – 16.00 CET. The applications are already closed but you are welcome to follow the event here.
Looking for ways to connect to top-class investors and peers and to present your innovation?
We host regular EIC Investor Days, as well as ePitching with Investor-sessions, all based on your company profiles in ScaleUP EU. You can keep an eye on our events page for more information on future events. Currently, the applications for the Investor Day on Health (taking place on 18-19 May 2021) are still open until 7 April 2021.
If you are interested in joining, don’t miss out and update your profile information straight away. If you need help, please contact us through our contact page (choose ScaleUp EU: claim access).