Twenty participants from seventeen selected North-West European start-ups and young SMEs gathered in Yorkshire (UK) from 23-28th July 2017 for the first BioBase4SME Innovation Biocamp. The Innovation Biocamp, a fully funded intensive, week-long training course aims to provide high-potential biobased companies with hands-on tools needed to commercialise their biobased ideas and grow their companies. The Innovation Biocamp, co-financed by Europe’s Interreg NWE programme, is planning a second edition in 2018.
The Innovation Biocamp included a series of lectures from experts in key aspects of business growth, such as value propositions, business modelling, financing growth and risk management. Each lecture was followed by group exercises mediated by an experienced facilitator. Participants then worked with mentors to apply this learning to their own company. The training culminated in live pitches to a panel of specialist investors. Participant also benefited from peer-to-peer learning and networking with biobased companies across North-West Europe.
A highly engaged and participative group of delegates worked well together for all the discussions, exercises and activities and could be divided into 3 categories:
- Founders just starting out (in business < than 1 year)
- Founders of more established companies (in business > than 1 year)
- Employees of start-up companies
The format of the Innovation Biocamp was integral to its success. The input from trainers and facilitators, subject matters experts, industry experts and mentors made for a winning combination. The trainers and facilitators worked together to troubleshoot issues and the whole team’s responsiveness to feedback was seen very positively by delegates. The variety of styles of delivery and range of activities provided all delegates with different opportunities to learn, share and connect.
François Geeraerts, BioPLA, Belgium states: “The BioBase4SME Innovation Biocamp was very intensive with high-level sessions, and turned out to be extremely useful and instructive. We are now able to further develop our business in a more structured and deliberate way. Furthermore, many useful contacts came out of the Biocamp such as a continued personal mentorship by one of the experts and support from a VC.”
Guillaume Wégria, Fyteko, Belgium testifies: “Very interesting, motivated and approachable speakers and experts. Fyteko’s main gain were new contacts (potential VC, test centres, industrial collaboration) and a better helicopter view of the next steps to take within our business.”
The Innovation BioCamp 2017 was evaluated as a very positive experience by the participants. Many of them said it exceeded their expectations and many of them felt re-invigorated and ready to refocus on their business in a more strategic way. Importantly everyone felt that they would be able to use what they learned and every delegate said it was well worth taking time away from day-to-day business to attend.
In terms of BioBase4SME hopes and expectations, the vision created by Margaret Smallwood and the team at Biovale has certainly been achieved. This was a well-received first BioCamp and an excellent base to reflect on and look at how it can be made even better for the 2018 edition.
More testimonials of participants:
“I anticipate this will be a worthwhile investment which will yield significant value for the sector in North-West Europe.”
“Brilliant sharing of knowledge and expertise, lots of problem solving going on between delegates.”
“There is so much that I have taken from this course, skills, a time to look at my business without fire, reflection time, team building, networking and of course the people. I have enjoyed working with other innovative people learning from our mentors and hearing experts speak about innovation.”
“I have previous experience on business bootcamps but this has trumped them.”
“If you want to raise your start-up and your skills, you must take part in this intensive training.”
For more information on the BioBase4SME Innovation Biocamp 2018, please contact Tanja.Meyer@bbeu.org.