“Not a single company can beat a strong startup eco system.” Chris Anderson, top entrepreneur at 3D Robotics, author of The Long Trail, gave the keynote speech at The Future of High Tech at the campus of the University of Twente. Anderson shared his insights on the keys to successful (startup) entrepreneurship. “It’s not all about getting in the best technology, but the quality of the environment en collaboration will determine the level of success.”
Startup entrepreneurs, investors, entrepreneurial students, scientists: all came together Wednesday for a shared dream: disrupt society with disruptive technology, creating innovations with a solid business model and come with solutions that make the world a little better. At the campus of the UT, they went in debate on the challenges in technology, collaboration and funding.
Prince Constantijn, the newly-appointed Special Envoy of StartUpDelta pinpointed the relevance of technological innovations in tackling societal challenges. “Everyone brings in their specific knowledge and abilities. And then, all together, make sure that it does not stay with theory, but will lead to new innovative entrepreneurship. That is the magic that you want to achieve.”
A well-functioning eco system is essential to bring good ideas further. “Because besides good ideas, you need fantastic people and sufficient funding to make that dream possible”, Dave Blivin, Managing Partner at Cottonwood Technology Fund concludes.
Fund the Future
In a well-functioning eco system, each partner has its specific role. "Cottonwood is often the first to invest and will focus on the most difficult and risky aspect of the innovation chain", says Blivin. "We offer disruptive capital for disruptive technology. There are startups, like Eurekite, that we invest in that we almost pulled out of the lab."
Not always, large investors are the right solution. "Carlien Roordink, Managing Director of Crowdfunding Hub: "Reward-based crowdfunding may prove to be an excellent solutions. Sometimes even the best because it offers an opportunity to receive funds and at the same time, see how well your innovation is being received on the market. Even large companies like Sony now put these kind of strategies into practice."
Effective working of the eco system requires a complex collaboration between all parties; business angels, investors, startups and universities. When it comes to funding, courage is needed, combined with knowledge on suitable financial strategies and strong collaboration. "Startups need to connect to each other, to the market and to potential investors", says Wilco Rietberg (Reggeborgh Investment). "But the same goes for investors. They have to collaborate effectively to make the eco system a success.”
From innovation to business
But how can you make sure that great ideas and innovations lead to more business, economic growth and more employment? Luigi Amati, CEO of Meta Group and VC of Business Angels Europe, knows what is needed: a greater sense of entrepreneurship. "In Europe, we really need to re-appreciate entrepreneurship. When you compare Europe to the united States, you will see that most large companies in Europe where founded around 1900, while in the US, a lot of large companies we're founded in the last decades. The appreciation for entrepreneurship is high, an entrepreneurial spirit is stimulated and that is reflected in the education."
Tech the Future
That entrepreneurial spirit is essential to get technological innovations of the ground. Key note speaker Chris Anderson gave an insight on how the startups of today can become the global game changers of tomorrow. “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission”, he stated. “What if AirBnB would have asked authorities if they were allowed to run a hotel? They would have never existed.”
Anderson was the founder a large US-based drone manufacturer. “The aviation authorities expected to have around 25.000 drones in the US by 2020. At a certain point, we shipped around that number around the country per month!”, he smiled. The new startups have the world at their feet. “The whole world can be your customer”, says Erik Huizer, Chief Technology Officer at SurfNET. “But at the same time, try to focus on your key qualities.”
The Future of High Tech
The Future of High Tech that was held in Twente is part of the StartUpFest Europe, an international series of events on startups and scale-ups. Around 500 visitors were at the UT campus on Wednesday. Besides a series of interesting and inspiring (international) key note speeches, breakout sessions were held in which participants could discuss more in-depth into topics like health, safety & security and water security. Young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to brainstorm with Chris Anderson on startup-dilemma’s. At the ceremony the prizes of the Twente University Fund (the Van den Kroonenburgprijs, Marina van Damme-grant and De Breed Kreiken Award) were presented.