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Helping to translate research into growth and jobs

Venture capitalists engaged into COWIN activities will support entrepreneurs in Smart Systems. In this forum 11 SMEs with technology developed in FP7 projects will try to convince 17 Venture Capitals to invest in their companies.

I am impatiently waiting for the arrival of the 10th of October. On that day the COWIN Investment Place will take place. Ten companies will present their plans to develop and introduce in the market innovative products in front of a group of at least fifteen Venture Capitals (VCs). The goals of the ten companies are to convince some of the VCs to invest in their companies.

This type of event is not new in Europe although it is much less frequent than in the USA or Canada. What makes it different is the source of the technology. These companies will present technologies developed through   the ICT programs of the Framework Programme for Research 6 and 7 (FP6 and FP7), specifically in the topic of Microsystems and Electronic Components. Using those technologies the companies are developing products for renewable energies, medical diagnostic and treatment, drug discovery, communication, space,   and cars industries. For me this event is a demonstration that the results of European funded research can attract private funding.

Another distinctive factor of this event is its focus on ICT hardware. The number of VCs investing in companies dedicated to ICT hardware has steadily decreased during the last decades because it takes longer to recover the investment and the invested amount is much higher than in other sectors. Moreover, I consider that it is a huge breakthrough to gather 15 VCs companies with interest in hardware. I partially attribute this success to the shared vision created between the researchers, the industry and the Commission on where to focus the research efforts. We should take in consideration that the manufacturing industry creates more jobs per unit of growth than other sectors. Then we should reverse the current declining trend in the manufacturing industry in Europe. The fact that this forum is taking place reassures me that we are working in the right direction to reverse the trend.

Another interesting aspect for me would be to witness the “performance” of the presenters. Many of them are researchers who became entrepreneurs. To go from academia to the world of entrepreneurship is not an easy trip and people undertaking such an adventure have my admiration. Many of them have been assisted by COWIN. COWIN is a Coordinated Action funded by the ICT programme of FP7. COWIN's main aim is to support the translation of research in microsystems and electronics components into commercial products.  To achieve that goal, COWIN has worked with many FP6 and FP7 projects helping them to identify the most interesting technologies from the market point of view, advising them on how to manage Intellectual Property and how to pack it in companies, identifying right partners, coaching entrepreneurs and many other activities, including the organisation of this Investment Place. This COWIN Investment Place and its legacy will help us assess the contribution of this type of support activities.

I am looking forward to a very intensive, but very productive day on 10th October.