The Innovation BioCamp was a cooperation between the UK cluster, BioVale and REWIN West-Brabant. This was part of the Interreg NWE BioBase4SME project. 19 startups working on biobased innovations joined the camp on Sunday May 5th. They came from the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and closer by: the Netherlands. Their businesses covered: photo reactors, crystallization (purification), bio polymers, bio compounds, coffee waste valorization, hemp concrete, bio colorants, bio fuels, biorefineries, replacements for toxic solvents, seaweed and new biopolymers.
The trainers, Alison Gray and Kev Walls, were from the company Skillfluence, specialists in business training. Late afternoon of Sunday the 5th of May, the scene was set, and the participants were quickly put to work, delivering their pitches. After dinner it was all about networking.
Monday morning was the start of four days of intensive training on customer value propositions, lean canvas model, growth hurdles, venture capital, strategic communication, IP and much more. The startups were encouraged to apply this learning to their own companies due to several hands-on practice exercises.
The project BioBase4SME Project was introduced to the startups due the presentation of the outcome of the NWE survey “Needs & challenges of SMEs in the bioeconomy in NW Europe- Overview of opportunities?” was presented by the project coordinator Tanja Meyer.
Interspersed with the teaching were relevant talks from external speakers. Marcel van Berkel talked about the most important things startups need to realize, the sooner the better. Phillipe Gabant shared his experiences as a successful entrepreneur in microbiology. Benedicte O’Sullivan is working for a young start-up, still in the process of becoming a successful company. Her story gave a very interesting insight of the struggles and excitement of the entrepreneurial life. Charlotte Watkins told us how to protect your Intellectual Property. Rob van der Meij, who was the last speaker, explained everything we don’t know about Venture Capital and what the startups need to consider. Nine “mentors” (entrepreneurial experts) arrived Thursday evening to have one-on-one meetings with start-ups, each pairing was carefully chosen to maximize the benefit to the startups.
On the final day, the moment came when each startup had to pitch in front of a panel of investors. To make this even tougher, it was done in a real chapel. All startups had three minutes to give their best pitch. The jury, which consisted of Rob van der Meij, Joost Waeterloos and Daniela Arrudca Costa, had one minute each to question them.
The prize for the most investable company went to Pleurette, a company that valorizes coffee waste to grow mushrooms and uses the waste that is left of these mushrooms to make vegan spreads. The prize for the best pitch and startup idea went to Bicomer. Bicomer uses bacteria to produce a red colorant for use in various food applications. Congratulations Bicomer, and thanks to all attendees for this great week with a lot of enthusiasm and hard work.
See the event announcement here:
See the pre-view of the outcome of the NWE Survey here:
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