Unity is strength: success stories of a joint venture programme!
The European Venture Programme — EVP offers 20 young start-ups exclusive access to the entrepreneurship expertise and networking resources available at the four EuroTech Universities. The intensive 12-day programme (7 days beginning of summer + 5 days end of summer) takes entrepreneurs on a journey to four different ecosystems, where a mix of thematic workshops, company visits, and public pitching competitions will enable the start-ups to grow their business beyond borders.
This unique opportunity, offered to five start-ups from each technical university (DTU, EPFL, TU/e and TUM) is funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ framework and co-funded by the EuroTech Universities Alliance.
As applications are is still arriving for the second edition, here is some good news and inspiring words of three former participants:
Alex Kiltz, co-founder of DataMine
DataMine streamlines data services and saves scientists time by using propriety conversion algorithms to provide them all the data they require in a fast, clean and reliable way on a holistic platform. Basically, it’s a search engine making researchers’ life easier. Management & Technology Master student Alex is one of the six co-founders, and he attended the European Venture Programme last summer.
TECHNOLOGIST When did you start the DataMine project?
ALEX KILTZ DataMine is born during the EU-XCEL Start-up Scrum in Poznan, last June. It was actually two weeks before the beginning of the EVP in July! Most of the participants had been working on their projects for about two years, so it was quite interesting to hear their stories. Of course, DataMine was still at a very early stage of development, so I had a pretty steep learning curve ahead. I had to pick up so many bits and pieces, like for instance to draft the first pitch.
TECHNOLOGIST How far is DataMine in its development?
ALEX KILTZ We are working on the development of our website. We have a working back-end demo of our data format conversion algorithms and the beta version of our website is already online: www.data-mine.eu. We are currently reaching out potential custommers. We’re still studying at the same time, and all 6 of us share the workload, hoping to turn it into a full-time activity at the end of this last year of studies.
TECHNOLOGIST What was the most useful part of the EVP?
ALEX KILTZ The EVP is a great experience for young entrepreneurs: sharing experience, tips, how to build the perfect pitch. That was really helpful to hear from people who successfully went through the same process: what to say or not to say, practicing and getting feedback. I especially remember the video pitching we did at DTU SkyLab in Copenhagen.
TECHNOLOGIST What is your best memory of the programme?
ALEX KILTZ Getting together around the lake in Lausanne, and enjoying the view while chatting with the other participants. The socializing aspect of the programme is definitely a plus besides the content of the workshops!
►DataMine won the Mobile & Web category at the Venture Cup Idea Competition 2016 /
2nd place (out of 50 startups) at EU-XCEL Final of EU-XCEL European Virtual Accelerator 2015 /
1st place at Poznan Scrum of EU-XCEL European Virtual Accelerator 2015
Johannes Deckert, founder of Mobil Hydro
In industrialised countries the supply of electricity is taken for granted. Yet 1.3 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. Mobile hydro is a start-up which aims to counter this local supply deficiency through “Rotor”, a mini-water power-plant. Rotor makes it possible to generate electricity in flowing water as easily as can be. The floating mini-water power-plant is a simple and robust ready-made plug-and-play system. Rotor can be used anywhere with minimal requirements and can be installed and run without technical expertise. This low-cost and renewable water-power generation plant is made of simple components. It can be serviced and repaired using recycling materials available world-wide, such as a tractor tyre-tube as a buoy. Johannes joined the first edition of the EVP when his project was almost two years old.
TECHNOLOGIST How did you hear about the EVP?
JOHANNES DECKERT Through Manage&More, which is a business creation center at TUM (TU München). I was a scholar at this programme and I just received an e-mail advertising the EVP.
TECHNOLOGIST Why did you apply?
JOHANNES DECKERT I thought it would be interesting to discover other centers like Manage&More around Europe and meet people doing the same as I do, sharing a similar interest. Even if we had the same mindset, we came from many different backgrounds, nationalities and academics fields. The other participants can give you good inputs and help you with specific problems, or get you in touch with the right person. I think this is very important, much more than the workshops. Keeping in mind that the programme is what got us together in the first place, and helped us starting off the conversation.
TECHNOLOGIST What was the best input for you and your project?
JOHANNES DECKERT Pitching: in other words, presenting the idea and articulating it a very sharp way, because you only have two or three minutes. We used video recordings, and we went through it, again and again with different coaches. They asked the right questions. Many of which I couldn’t answer straight away, and it pushed me to adjust many details.
TECHNOLOGIST How is your project doing?
JOHANNES DECKERT Mobil Hydro is now two years old. Shortly after the end of the EVP, we got fundings, which allowed me to work full time on the project. The technology has advanced a lot more, and a few organisations are interested in Mobil Hydro, but the prototype is still not ready: we need a lot more data and long-term tests. We started being skeptical about the market, so we’re thinking about shifting on an open-source project.
►Last September, Mobil Hydro received an EXIST grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economics Affairs and Energy.
Sylke Hoehnel, co-founder of Sun Bio Science
Sun Bio Science provides a universal platform designed for personalised medicine. Sylke Hoehnel and Nathalie Brandenberg were doctoral students at École polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne when they came up with the idea that they developed in Switzerland and during the EVP. Their start-up is now valued at $2 million with a university innovation grant. The two women also recently made it to the Forbes’ “30 under 30 in healthcare– Europe 2016” list!
What is the strength of the European Venture Programme?
Kristoffer Buch, project manager at DTU SkyLab, answers: “The European Venture Programme is 12-day programme for 20 selected MSc or PhD students from the EuroTech alliance.
Through talks, Q&As, and workshops, the students gain valuable insight into important aspects of the field of entrepreneurship. The students spend their time working on their start-ups, networking with like-minded students from other countries, meeting successful local start-ups, visiting large companies, and participating in events.
Visiting four different countries, the students develop a more European mindset, which is clearly an advantage once they have to identify the right market for their start-up, find team members, and decide in which country to set up business. Learning from the other students’ approaches and experience is a key part of the concept.”
►A total of 20 students from the EuroTech universities were part of the EVP, to learn about entrepreneurship in twelve days.
Interviews by JB