What a great day of Open Innovation in London!
I had the chance to attend the second edition of “SMAU | Italy RestartsUp” in London. An event sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency and SMAU with the objective to explore the benefits of open innovation at international level and share experiences between the Italian and international ecosystem.
The event took place on the 11th of April at the Old Truman Brewery, in Bricklane, where there were a selection of 40 Italian startups. The event also included pitching sessions and panels with representatives from, both, the Italian and British innovation ecosystem:
- Fintech & Insurtech
- Artificial Intelligence
- Smart Manufacturing
- Smart City&Smart Mobility
That’s all fuel for my insatiable curiosity!
What is Open Innovation and why is it so important? Open Innovation means engaging in collaboration with third parties, especially start-ups, in order to drive innovation.
It has become clear that an organisation cannot just rely on its own internal knowledge and resources to innovate. It is a trend that brings benefits to both sides: it gives start-ups access to new resources and the solid market presence enjoyed by established companies, which is crucial for their growth. At the same time, for established companies, collaboration with start-ups is a strong driver for innovation.
Innovative companies are growing twice as fast as companies that do not innovate, in terms of both jobs created and sales. At European level this approach takes the form of a range of strategies, where the objective is not necessarily acquisition or injection of capital. Some figures, from Open Innovation in Europe report 2018, helps us in understanding the phenomenon:
- 89% of large companies have set up an internal department for open innovation;
- 78% have entered into agreements with European start-ups;
- 78% hold award ceremonies, contests and hackathons to uncover new talent;
- 68% set up accelerators;
- 44% open branches in global innovation hubs;
- 28% acquire start-ups.
Two examples of open innovation strategies addressed at the event were Barclays’ international accelerator programme for fintechs (in collaboration with Techstar). A programme that offers support in the go-to market, a mentoring service with some of the greatest fintech entrepreneurs and, in some cases, direct investment. The Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica has followed a similar strategy through the Wayra accelerator.
Some interesting start-ups that I had the chance to study:
- Kibitzer: an interesting fintech that created a web platform MamyCash, that matches demand and offer of credit, assesses creditworthiness and manages the cash flows from credit to repayment. The aim of this company is to target the credit needs for micro and small companies, currently under represented by the big players. I enjoyed our friendly chat, those guys were showing so much passion and commitment.
- Validactor: delivers an integrated suite of tools and services aimed at improving customer-to-manufacturer interactions; it also delivers a set of functions which help manufacturing companies in their fight against counterfeit copies and to build better brand awareness. Some of the features include: innovative unit serialisation process, a social network for products, a Lost & Found tracker and a profiling and loyalty management tool.
- weAR: a very innovative company that has developed new approaches for the use of augmented reality (AR), particularly in support of industrial applications. weAR’s mission is to support everyday tasks with mobile and wearable devices such as smartglasses, smartwatches and smartbands.
It was a great day to meet likeminded innovators, learning new innovative solutions and make new friends!