- At the University of Twente, most of the assistance for start-up creation is coordinated by our valorization office working under the name Novel-T. http://novelt.com
Strategic Business Coaching
- The business developers or business coaches guide the technology maturation cycle for potential business cases to a higher technology readiness level in order to accelerate the technology and knowledge transfer to the market through licensing or spin-off processes. The Business Development Team consists of seven business developers, three lawyers, and an IP manager. The business developers are experienced entrepreneurs helping students and researchers from the regional knowledge institutes to bring their discoveries and ideas to market. Additionally, innovative entrepreneurs from the manufacturing and ICT industries can also call on the team for the advice to connect the traditional businesses in the manufacturing sector to young ICT-based organizations. Aim of these both strategic and hands-on acting business coaches is to accelerate innovation and to create higher business impact. They help in finding relevant expertise, appropriate technology, and the right business partners, and they take care of matchmaking between entrepreneurs, researchers, and technologists with ideas. Next, to the regional business support, young companies with a high potential European growth can receive coaching and support from the Business Accelerator program of EIT Digital. This creates a more international focus as well as an increased growth rate. EIT Digital facilitates access to the European market, in particular through large companies. Its co-locations are soft landing places for SMEs, providing space, access to the local eco-system and access to the national industry.
Access to Finance
- At the DIH Twente, access to finance is available for all stages in the development of knowledge-intensive SME’s and mid-cap companies with innovative ideas, from the funding of proofs-of-concept and pre-venture loans to crowdfunding and informal investing. The DIH also supports (would-be) entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and concept to investors. The European partner EIT Digital facilitates access to finance via its scale-up accelerator by creating liaisons with leading Europe-wide working venture capitalists. Some available funding options the DIH gives access to are:
- TOP and TOP Light programs: These programs help entrepreneurial employees of the universities to start up their own knowledge-intensive company. Participants get access to various types of support and guidance (e.g. technical and legal consultancy, InterVision) for a period of one year, as well as financial aid (max. 40 kEuro). The pre-venture loans are important for stimulating an entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to take calculated business risks. The early pre-seed funding helps enterprises with a flying start without having a fully fleshed-out business plan.
- Innovation Fund Twente and Innovation Fund Overijssel: These governmental innovation funds are investing in regional early-stage companies active in the high-tech sector. There are two kinds of investments: growth stimulation Innovatiekrediet (25-75 kEuro) and Participations (100–2.500 kEuro). A pre-condition for the Participation part is that a private investor will co-invest based on the same conditions.
- Participation Fund Oost NL: Participations up to 5 mln. Euro in innovative regional start-ups and scale-ups active in one of the domains of the Dutch Top Sectors (robotics is part of the national High Tech Systems and Materials roadmap).
- Angels Network Oost NL: Pitch-and-Match sessions are used to bring together teams of young enterprises and regional Informal Investors. The network offers financial investments combined with hands-on coaching. Young entrepreneurs also receive pitch-trainings and business developers support to make their company investor-ready. Also intake discussions for the European Angel Fund are organized by this network.
- Dutch Student Investment Fund: This is a fund for-and-by-students of the UT and Saxion University. It invests between 5 and 50 kEuro in startups and also assigns students to the startup who are working on internship assignments or practical assignments.
- Cottonwood Technology Fund: The European headquarters of this world-wide working (pre-)seed fund is based in Twente. It invests in promising to start technological enterprises. 10 million euros have been made available for Twente. The Cottonwood portfolio mainly consists of companies operating in the fields of ICT, robotics, healthcare, advanced materials, and clean energy.
- Twente Technology Fund (TTF): TTF is an independent venture capital fund that invests in high-tech products, as well as technology in sectors like ICT, clean technology, robotics, and biomedical technology. TTF invests max. 2-3 million euros per company.
- Informal Investment Services: ABN-AMRO bank offers access to 650 potential Dutch investors. These investors bring a lot of knowledge and experience as well as capital.
- SME Innovation Vouchers: Province Overijssel offers innovation vouchers which regional SMEs can use at Open Innovation Centers for technical- and business support.
- TRAINING AND ENTREPRENEURIAL TALENT DEVELOPMENT
It takes many steps to move from idea (opportunity recognition) to business model (opportunity preparation), to running a fast growing, technology-based business (opportunity exploitation). the DIH Twente offers several programs to equip young (would be) entrepreneurs with the set of tools and competencies (both business and technological) needed to achieve their business ambitions.
- Venture Lab International and VentureLab Classes: Venture Lab offers a business development program for technology-based startups and a business growth accelerator for well-established high-tech firms. The approach jump-starts and provides sustainable growth for long-standing companies and young businesses which aim to grow further and more rapidly. This is offered both as a one year program and as a modular to tailor-made program fitting specific needs of an entrepreneur or company. The programs, developed in Twente and grounded on >25 years of practice and research experience, are offered in the Netherlands, Greece, and Russia. Training, expert-coaching, workshops, and courses make participants competent in functional roles, tasks, and responsibilities during the progressive phases of business development. The ‘Golden Egg Check’ online toolset for entrepreneurs, investors, and business accelerators, validated by more than 850 entrepreneurs, is used as an important training tool. VentureLab also offers VentureLab Classes: free accessible networking evenings with inspirational speakers.
- Drone pilot training: SPACE53 is developing the Netherlands’ first-ever vocational drone training course (MBO-level). The course will be offered as an optional subject in the coming academic year. There are two possible tracks, one for drone technology (maintenance) and the other for drone usage (drone pilot). One of Space53’s objectives is to develop a globally certified drone pilot license.
- Start-up weekends: Partners in the DIH Twente organize regularly start-up weekends where people with business ideas can learn what’s needed to realize their dream.
- Business-related workshops & knowledge sessions: The Business Development Team regularly hosts workshops and knowledge sessions about starting a business and protecting knowledge.
- Smart Industry BOOST masterclasses: Goal is to increase the strategic and practical knowledge of senior management of SME and mid-cap companies of technologies and approaches important for their first smart industry roadmaps. Masterclasses are an important instrument to bridge the gap between theory and practice. All Masterclasses start with a theoretical explanation, followed by real-world implementation cases of more experienced companies. Examples of the topics are: smart product development, mass customization, flexible manufacturing, digital factory, Internet-of-Things, cyber-physical systems, IPR and patenting, business modeling, co-creation, road mapping canvas.
- Field Labs: Field labs are inspiring environments where companies and research institutions develop, test en deploy Smart Industry solutions. It is a practical environment where people can learn in practice to work with and to use these new technologies and approaches. Through the BOOST Smart Industry program, the region is involved in seven field labs, a.o. Smart Welding Factory (robotics), the Garden (security, safety), and Camino (predictive maintenance of infrastructure).IDEATION, SCREENING & SCOUTING
- Pitch & Match Science to Business: Pitch-and-Match meetings are used to share information between the university and business community and to stimulate new collaborations. The meetings deal with themes from robotics to smart industry and condition-based maintenance. Groups of approx. 20 experts discuss new technological trends, share future plans and create cohesion. This leads to innovations, new collaborations, and the entering of the market of research results. A facilitator chairs the meeting uncovers the actual questions and records the results.
- Creathons: The force in this Province-funded pressure cooker, for which participants are locked up for 24-48 hours, is the combination of the right question, people with varied backgrounds, a proven concept, a time constraint and a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It’s a meeting during which teams work together to solve a social issue or challenge. This results in often innovative out-of-the-box ideas. The concept is kind of like a hackathon, but now with physical products as a result. An expert jury determines the winners. To enable the further development of the ideas into concrete products or services, the winning teams are matched to the Business Developers Team.
- Inspired-by-Science meetings: During the low-threshold meetings, researchers talk to a diverse audience of end-users and business experts about current developments.
- Screening and scouting of ideas and people: As real business success is almost impossible to predict at the very early stage, the market potential of many different research results of the knowledge institutes are evaluated by the Business Development Team. Their screening & scouting activities not only detect and analyze the potential of innovative technologies but also entrepreneurs ready to be involved in the adventure of innovation transformation of inventions into an actual business. These potential entrepreneurs are stimulated to taste business waters.
INNOVATION CHAIN DEVELOPMENT
- Business modeling, development of business cases: Novel-T facilitates collaborations between knowledge institutions, SMEs and corporations in order to develop new business cases. The focus is primarily on the industrial sector, where innovation leads to economic growth. Smart Industry and robotics, for instance, offers a world of opportunities for companies in the high-tech sector and is well suited to the region’s knowledge positions.
- Joint innovation and supply-chain creation: Novel-Tools connect companies and organizations so that together they can innovate, make tremendous technological strides and tap into new markets.
- Smart Industry action program: BOOST (since 2015 funded by the Province) provides a large network and good political support for new smart industry initiatives. BOOST accelerates the regional smart industry developments by identifying opportunities, accelerating developments, sharing knowledge, developing skills among entrepreneurs, and connecting entrepreneurs.GO4EXPORT: Go4Export (financially supported by the Province Overijssel) helps regional SME and Midcap firms with their first steps in the international market. Go4Export supports in the legal aspects and in finding reliable partners. During Traders’ meetings, entrepreneurs learn from each other how to prepare trade missions. Go4Export facilitates the preparation for trade fair attendance, supervised trade fair attendance and participation. The E-Commerce Quick Scan maps opportunities for B2B e-commerce and companies can use vouchers to hire international agency specialists to help them grow online abroad. The China Office offers support to develop, implement and expand business activities in the Asian market.
- Facilities: For the development and testing of the next generation Inspection and Maintenance robotics, the UT and its partners have created a unique integrated research, development and testing robotics eco-system where it is possible for both academic researchers and their (industrial) partners to move seamlessly from the in-house research labs at the university to outdoor test- and experience facilities and almost real life living lab facilities in the region. Two examples are:
- Robotics in Maintenance & Inspection: At TechBaseTwente, the UT partner SPACE53 (www.space53.eu) offers an operational space for outdoor testing for drones and maintenance and inspection applications. It is a great location for industrial testing with possible cooperation with first responders. Because of the availability of infrastructures such as storage tanks, pipe racks and windmills, it is possible to use the area for very realistic testing scenarios as it is done for example in Disaster City in Texas.
- Rehabilitation and Wearable robotics: Wearable robots can be used to either augment, train, or supplement human motor function. Examples of such robots are exo-skeletons, bionic prostheses, exo-suits, and body worn collaborative robots. Our wearable robotics lab can be used for development, testing and evaluation of these wearable robots in a safe, real-life environment. The lab is a joint effort from the University of Twente and Roessingh Research and Development.
Please visit the website www.space53.eu for an impression of some of the facilities available in Twente region in the Netherlands.