Making connections in Belgium’s start-up ecosystem
More than 80 guests joined us for our third annual Innovation Night powered by Slush on 25 September 2019, among them the ten start-ups that pitched their business to a jury of experts to try and win a place at Slush on 21 and 22 November 2019. Slush is an annual happening in Helsinki that’s built a reputation as the world’s premier event for start-ups.
This year’s edition of our Innovation Night powered by Slush targeted early or growth stage start-ups and scale-ups solving Industry 4.0 challenges, including in the field of robotics, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT). "Building a company requires a strong team of the right people with complementary skill sets," said Griet Helsen, Partner at PwC Belgium. "It’s especially important within Industry 4.0, as founders need to bridge knowledge of technological innovation with business."
Each of the participating companies had five minutes to present their business, followed by a Q&A session with a jury consisting of Dirk Torfs, General Director with Flanders Make, Philippe Huberts, Director Digital and Automation Technology for Integrated Supply Chain / Manufacturing at AkzoNobel, Jonathan Berté, CEO of Robovision, Markus Nyberg, Head of Startup Operations at Slush and Jochen Vincke, Industry 4.0 Partner at PwC Belgium.
T-Mining, a start-up that uses Blockchain solutions to help parties in logistics and maritime supply chains yield increased operational and administrative efficiencies, improve overall security and safety and address complex trust and governance concerns.
"Having already proven our technology in Antwerp, we began expanding internationally at the beginning of the year, so it’s a great time to be in an international setting. PwC can reach the really large shipping companies and other interesting firms where we, as a start-up, wouldn’t knock on the door. We’ve already taken on a local investor and now need a gateway to the second step, PwC’s international network and close relationships can help deliver that step," enthused Frederik Van Outryve, CCO, T-Mining.
Runners-up were Tractonomy Robotics, a design agency building advanced mobile manipulation systems that fuse motion control, machine intelligence and interaction, and Zensor, a start-up that provides safe and cost-effective monitoring of assets, providing real-time business intelligence through sensor-driven data collection and analysis.
This event underscores the importance PwC places on playing an active role in the start-up ecosystem, alongside funding organisations, universities, research organisations, corporations and investors, among others, seeking to actively drive innovation.
A number of representatives of large corporations also joined us for PwC Innovation Night powered by Slush. A key part of the start-up ecosystem, corporates often look to start-ups as a source of inspiration, to help them find new ideas early and perhaps partner with, invest in, or learn from them. Noted Filip Pauwels, Investment Analyst, Colruyt Group, "At events like this, we’re able to see what’s out there, what interesting opportunities there may be with a link to our business, to understand what’s living in the market, whether there are potential commercial partnerships or if there are disruptive ideas on the horizon."
"By unlocking valuable business connections with this initiative, companies are able to achieve first-mover advantage and increased competitiveness in the market."
We also welcomed a number of venture capitalists looking for compelling ideas to invest in for the future. Focusing on start-ups specifically in the Industry 4.0 arena, Katrin Geyskens of Capricorn Partners, an independent manager of private and equity funds, found the event of real interest.
"It’s useful to see companies who could be of real interest to us together at one time and to see what they have to offer, and especially what the jurors ask of them. The jurors' questions offered real insight into current and upcoming trends and challenges in Industry 4.0." she said.