Stories: Funded Phase 2 companies welcomed in the 'SMEs Champions league'
92 companies funded by the SME Instrument under Phase 2 met on 15/16 October, in Brussels, for the Welcome Days. The purpose was to bring the SMEs selected for funding together, in order to network and share experiences. From sessions focused on how to sell to public buyers, to training workshops related to large corporates, the event has tried to address the core challenges SMEs face in a cohesive way.
In one of the rooms, it was possible to hold 1-1 meetings between companies or with the Project Officers that follow the SMEs. In the auditoriums, several workshops and sessions were taking place simultaneously. Celine Saint Olive, CEO of French startup Noraker, shared the experience and gave advices to the companies attending the event:
"The EIC community is much more than a Community. It's a family. I've been part of this network for two years now. First, in 2018 with Phase 1 SME Instrument and in 2019 with the Phase 2 SME Instrument", explained Céline Saint Olive, the CEO of the Noraker.
Céline Saint Olive got the chance to participate in several Business Acceleration Services and gave her point of view about the Corporate Days, among others. "This is an amazing opportunity for you to meet your dream costumers. The corporates will pick up a few SMEs to meet on a special event. Of course, there's a pitch, but more importantly, you'll have the opportunity to have one-to-one meetings with top executives. There's no waste of time," she added.
The connectivity win-win
As more and more SMEs join the dots on their capabilities, they can imagine scenarios where smaller businesses might be able to access an economy of scale that previously was far out of their reach. At the Welcome Days, the SMEs were divided into workshops running in parallel to respond to these different business needs. A first group looked at finding new investors, while a workshop on working with large corporates was taking place at the same time. Some companies decided to participate in a training focused on public (and private) buyers.
During the different sessions, they concluded this connectivity can supercharge SME success by eliminating wasted time, highlighting new opportunities, and supporting growth.
"I think the EIC Community can help our company by providing this network and their approval. It's the first time that I'm attending this event, and I'm overwhelmed by the professionalism of the participants. I'm looking forward to meeting more SMEs", said Joost Oosterling, the Managing Director at Rainmaker Holland BV.
This year the EIC Pilot also introduced a new Crash Pitch Challenge. Some companies recorded a 1-minute elevator pitch as if they were talking to an investor they just met "in the elevator." During the second day, the SMEs received 1:1 feedback from an investor on their recorded pitch.
"We practiced a lot to prepare our first pitch and I found this challenge very interesting. They gave essential information, and the investor made remarks that I will never forget," said Revital Libfrand, Chief Marketing Officer of the SME Odi-x.
Supporting SMEs at scale is one of the goals of the EIC Pilot and the Welcome days are, above all, a gateway for this process. During next year more events are foreseen and will bring more ‘SME champions’ together.
*"This represent the last batch of companies that applied for grant-only funding. From 5 June 2019 the EIC Accelerator offers blended finance in the form of an optional investment in equity in addition to the grant, to single for-profit SMEs. Grants will finance activities from TRL 6-8. Activities above TRL 8 will financed only through blended finance."