Second open call for logistics automation in manufacturing
L4MS accelerator is offering €1.5 million in equity-free funding
L4MS (Logistics for manufacturing SMEs) has opened its second open call. Finnish Small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMEs), mid-caps, automation and robotics providers are invited to apply to the acceleration programme by 30 November 2019.
The programme aims to develop new intralogistics solutions with mobile robots and OPIL IoT platform. L4MS provides manufacturing industry inexpensive ways to deploy advanced technologies and automation to factory floor logistics. Companies will have access to tools that can reduce the installation cost and time of mobile robots significantly.
L4MS experts have developed an Industrial IoT platform OPIL for logistics (Open Platform for Innovations in Logistics) to enhance the communication between different factory floor elements. This turns an operation environment into a flexible and responsive logistic system. Introducing a 3D simulator (Visual Components) to the process enables virtual testing before final investment decision and highly cost-effective deployment of configurable human-robot logistics solutions.
Read more about OPIL
How to apply to L4MS?
Manufacturing companies facing logistical challenges in their factories can apply together with a system integrator, automation provider, robot manufacturer, research organisation or Digital Innovation Hub and submit their proposal as a consortium of 2-3 partners. The most promising application experiments with highest innovation potential will get access to:
- Equity-free funding up to €250,000 per team
- Business and technology mentoring
- Access to state-of-the-art testing facilities
- Training to re-skill workers
- Finance for scaling up the new business model
The selected experiments will take part in an extensive and personalised training programme and build their experiment relying on OPIL technology to completely virtualise intra-factory logistics automation and drastically accelerate the innovation process in this area. The acceleration program is divided into three stages and lasts 2-11 months.
“If companies are willing to dive headfirst to improve their logistics processes, this programme is worth joining. L4MS is not just about bringing an AGV or a robot into the manufacturing unit: It’s about looking at the whole logistics process and thinking how, when and what kind of solutions are worth your time”, says COO Kristo Timberg from Estonian AS ChemiPharm, one of three companies that joined L4MS as pilot experiments.
L4MS offers support in the matchmaking process
FundingBox offers matchmaking services to help companies find the right partners for the Application Experiments. Companies can also submit their interest individually. Submit your interest for matchmaking here.
Open call: Venture builder for human centric solutions
Up to €200k equity-free for the best innovators
LEDGER will invest €5.6m in projects willing to build human centric solutions using decentralised technologies where citizens retain control over their data.
LEDGER promotes and support the creation of minimum viable products (MVPs) where privacy by design, openness and data governance are at the core of their proposition.
The MVP Builder Programme is articulated as a totally customised service, where high level researchers and top business professionals are selected to fit needs of bottom-up projects and guide them along the whole programme.
The most promising 32 bottom-up projects will be selected (through 2 open calls) to enter the 12-month MVP Builder Programme.
Enrepreneurial Skills Development Program (ESDP)
Call for applications! US-based programme for European researchers
What is the Entrepreneurial Skills Development Program about?
ENRICH in the USA is launching its first Entrepreneurial Skills Development Program (ESDP) for European researchers. If you are a European researcher, the ESDP is designed to provide you with the necessary skills and technical trainings to spark your entrepreneurial mind-set and boost your research impact in the US – a country known for its “entrepreneurial culture”. Getting to know the US ecosystem will open more doors and market opportunities for you and your research.
The ESDP will take place in Philadelphia, PA, USA on 19th – 24th March 2020, in conjunction with the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) National Spring Meeting. The Program will provide a 3-day technical training and info session on crucial topics for entering the US market, before the ACS conference. Prior to the program you will be matched to highly-qualified experts from science and business – your ENRICH-mentor tailored to your specific needs.
Funded by the European Commission, this call will partially support 20 participants. If selected, you will
- Attend information-sessions and technical trainings by experienced US trainers
- Understand and access the local US-entrepreneurship ecosystem
- Meet your ENRICH Mentor
- Network throughout the Program (catering will be provided)
- Receive your ENRICH Certificate
- Participate in cultural program in the area of Philadelphia
The reduced training fee to be paid by participants is a total of 450€ only (this excludes ACS registration fee [optional]).
- Wednesday evening: 18th March (Arrival), Philadelphia
- Casual first gathering (for those who have already arrived)
- Thursday: 19th March (Getting Started), Philadelphia
- Getting started
- Info-Session: How to identify the commercial value of your research
- Hands-on Training: Assessment of your research and its commercial value
- Friday: 20th March (Technology Transfer), Philadelphia
- Info-Session: IP Protection and Licensing in the US ecosystem
- Hands-on Training: Academic Technology Transfer Course
- Exercise: Write your own Commercialization Strategy
- Saturday: 21th March (Career Development), Philadelphia
- Info-Sessions: Lessons Learned from Practical Examples
- Converting research discoveries into useful products for market
- How to deal with Funding and Sponsoring
- Hands-on Training: Negotiation and Marketing
- Info-Sessions: Lessons Learned from Practical Examples
- Sunday: 22nd March (ACS National Meeting), Philadelphia
- Cultural Activity and Individual Meetings
- Monday: 23rd March (ACS National Meeting), Philadelphia
- Attending ACS National Meeting (final program not yet available)
- ACS-Welcome Reception in the Expo & Career Fair (incl. Hand-out of certificates)
- Tuesday: 24th March
- ESDP Wrap-up and Feedback of participants
- Individual meetings and attendance at ACS
- ENRICH-session at ACS (optional, tbd)
What’s in it for you?
ESDP will provide motivated researchers with the opportunity to attend information-sessions and technical training courses on commercialization strategies, technology transfer, career development, negotiation, IP protection, patents, licensing, negotiation practices, marketing among much more.
By attending the ACS National Meeting, you will be able to connect with more than 15,000 international attendees to grow your network, explore 200+ exhibitors who will showcase their latest technological developments and attend more than 50 professional training courses and workshops to advance your career. Additionally, you will also have the chance to match-and-meet with highly engaged and experienced mentors. The mentoring program will help foster personal development through insider knowledge and best practices from senior managers (mentors).
Who are we looking for?
We are looking for early to mid-career researchers, whose research has 1) a high innovation potential and 2) the possibility of commercializing in the US. Thus, you are our ideal candidate if you are motivated to develop your entrepreneurial skills, technical knowledge and increase your research impact.
A scientific focus on chemistry is preferable, due to the back-to-back activities with ACS.
The Entrepreneurial Skills Development Program (ESDP) is proudly brought to you by ENRICH in the USA in conjunction with the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The ENRICH in the USA Consortium Partners – National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR) – jointly organize this service.
Click here to apply.
Forging new frontiers in finance for digital innovations
Plans for more support for AI and blockchain startups
Many investors lack the knowledge and confidence to fund innovation in key strategic technologies – especially in Europe. The European Commission is working to ensure that promising AI and blockchain startups get the backing they need to grow and thrive.
We live in a time when new technologies like blockchain, AI, big data and the Internet of Things are transforming all sectors of the economy. Driverless cars, on-demand ride-sharing services, entertainment content platforms, image and facial recognition software, instantaneous translation and many more innovations have all resulted from startups in deep tech – technology that relies on long-term scientific research and advanced engineering, and may take some years to reach the market.
But disruptive technologies tend to face substantial challenges when seeking the finance to scale up, especially because most investors do not have the right technical expertise to assess the market prospects of the different technological solutions. They consider digital innovations, such as AI and blockchain as too complex, and thus shy away from investments in these strategic areas. They need to know the track record of the startup, the collateral and revenue prospects it can offer, and the extent to which it is dependent on obtaining intellectual property rights. They may prefer to stay with more traditional industries.
This challenge is particularly acute for Europe. For example, since 2011, two thirds of global equity investment in AI has gone to the US: this is fully consistent with the US’s overall strong position in the global venture capital market. Europe has made steady progress, with its share of global equity in AI growing from a mere 1% in 2013 to 8% in 2017. At the same time, however, China increased its share from 3% in 2015 to a whopping 36% in 2017. An OECD report provides more detailed insights into these figures. Overall venture capital investment is growing rapidly in Europe (from €5 billion in 2013 to €25 billion in 2018), but it remains limited compared with the US, where the market is approximately 5 times larger. There is a growing investment gap between Europe, North America and China in key strategic technologies like AI, blockchain, 5G and quantum computing.
Bridging the investment gap
However, when we look at investment in blockchain technologies, the investment gap for deep tech startups between Europe and the US is significantly smaller. While most investments in blockchain startups are directed at US companies with a total of €4.4 billion (33%), European companies have attracted a solid €2.9 billion (22%) and China follows with a total of €2.8 billion (21%). One of the underlying reasons is that, between 2009 and 2018, European blockchain startups made far more use of alternative forms of finance than their US counterparts. For example, European startups obtained a large amount of funding through what it is known as “initial coin offerings”, an innovative way of raising money from the public, using virtual coins or tokens. In this way, they managed to raise almost 60% of their total financing, while the equivalent figure for US blockchain startups did not exceed 18%.
The European institutions want to build on this promising trend, and to support the development of a dynamic EU-wide innovation ecosystem. In particular, the European Commission, in collaboration with the European Investment Fund (EIF), has created the first dedicated EU equity investment fund for AI and blockchain technologies, which will be announced at Convergence – the Global Blockchain Congress in Malaga from November 11-13. This EU investment fund aims to support and leverage investments in highly innovative startups and tech companies. In the first phase, the total expected investment volume is €300-400 million for 2020, with a contribution from the Commission and the EIF of €100 million and the rest being leveraged from venture capital funds. Looking ahead, the plan is to scale up the investment fund under the InvestEU programme, starting in 2021 with an estimated investment volume of approximately €1-2 billion.
Bringing innovators and investors together
Convergence – the Global Blockchain Congress is a great chance to take a deep dive into the fund’s objectives with the blockchain global community, and to discuss ways to leverage it to unlock additional financing from EU Member States and private investors, as well as future scale-up plans. On 13 November, the event will include a session on ‘Enabling Investments in Blockchain Technologies and Digital Innovations’, which will focus on these key questions:
- How can we close the information gap between innovators and investors?
- What innovations in finance are needed to be able to react to the rapid technological changes and to service the financing needs of deep tech companies?
- How can we close the investment gap for deep tech startups in Europe?
- From an international perspective, what lessons can be learned?
- What role do public financial institutions, such as the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank play in supporting the financing of digital innovations?
- What is the role of public-private partnerships and how can public investments schemes best be designed to crowd-in additional private investment?
Want to learn more, or are you interested in attending the conference? Please take a look at the conference agenda.
MY-GATEWAY report: entrepreneurship in Eastern Europe
Release of a new report on entrepreneurship in Slovenia, Romania & Czechia
A new comprehensive report on every entrepreneurial aspect of Slovenia, Romania and the Czech Republic is out.
Understanding entrepreneurship can be extremely challenging. It’s a complex reality that reaches its full potential only when a healthy startup ecosystem is in place. With this in mind, we aim to shed light on entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe and suggest practical ways to improve the current situation and leverage existing opportunities.
The main focus of our research, i.e. entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe, is far from easy to write about: it’s subject to constant change and existing sources of information are not always reliable and often are not free from bias. This is why NOVA (Lisbon) and Bar Ilan University (Tel Aviv) have joined forces to develop a unique methodology of ad hoc questionnaires and surveys aiming to debunk some myths and endorse the facts.
After being exposed to a thorough overview of investment trends, private and public funds, policies and key players in the Slovenian, Czech and Romanian territories, you’ll be taken on a tour deep inside the ecosystems, exploring them through the eyes of the stakeholders. The unique research methodology adopted for this report has brought us face-to-face with the reality entrepreneurs live in and experience when starting and developing their venture, thus allowing us to take a peek into their minds and see their ecosystems from their perspective. It soon became obvious why we also had to map those ecosystems: to draw some conclusions, we needed to see whether perceptions matched reality.
By combining both quantitative and qualitative data, it’s been possible to identify the demands and needs startups have to satisfy to increase their growth potential. Thanks to this approach, not only have we been able to identify what we’ve called the ‘capability gaps’ but have also come up with suggestions as to how connectivity can be increased and opportunities among countries be created.
Hoping to trigger discussions and cooperation at the local, national and international levels, we are certain you’ll see the growth potential and opportunities Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia hold for you.
We are a Startup Europe initiative which aims to strengthen the capacities of high-tech startups and innovative SMEs in the Central and Eastern European region to become better connected, gain higher market exposure and have improved, streamlined access to funding opportunities and talent.
Call for tenders: Deep tech investment support programme
Deadline 18 November!
A call for tender has been released to develop and operate an investment support programme for the first dedicated, EU-wide investment fund focused on innovative deep tech startups and companies. In particular the programme will carry out activities aimed at supporting the further development and adoption of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in Europe (reference: SMART 2019/0083).
The development of foundational technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and their convergence with other key technologies like IoT is going to accelerate the digital transformation of industry and services. They will provide new opportunities to innovate, create new ventures and invest in technologies and applications that will deeply change existing business models. The support programme will be critical for the successful implementation of the first EU-wide Deep Tech Investment Fund specifically focused on the development and acceleration of artificial intelligence, blockchain, distributed ledger technologies and the convergence of these technologies.
As part of this investment support programme, the European Commission is aiming to:
- Enhance the awareness and visibility of innovative AI and blockchain companies and projects among financial intermediaries and the broader investment community
- Carry out a series of market consultations with a broad range of stakeholders from the AI/blockchain ecosystem, governments and private investors
- Convene and better link the investment community with innovative Blockchain/AI SMEs and startups
- Support portfolio development and create a deal flow of technically and financially viable projects
- Mobilise more investors and facilitate cooperation schemes by contributing to the creation and optimal operation of an EU-wide Deep Tech Investment Programme, with a focus on AI, blockchain and the convergence of technologies.
Deadline for receipt of tenders: 18/11/2019 16:00
More information here.