In Boston, I recently attended the Annual VC Outlook Dinner, hosted by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), the world’s largest not-for-profit organization for entrepreneurs. The evening provided a snapshot of the investment climate here in the United States. Some of these insights may be applicable to other parts of the world, including Central Europe.
The evening included a panel discussion and dialogue. The panel was made up of representatives from six leading US venture capital firms: Highland Capital Partners; Battery Ventures; TVM Capital; Atlas Venture; Bain Capital Ventures; Commonwealth Capital Ventures; and Greylock Partners. These investors offered their views on the health of the US industry; what makes the investment climate in Boston different than Silicon Valley; and the importance of talent in the investment.
Here are some panel discussion notes. These views were shared by the majority, but I provide this recap with a disclaimer that these are opinions and interpretations. Perception may not match reality, but can influence reality.
Continue reading ‘Notes from Boston: the state of US venture capital’
Hungarian attendees seemed more pessimistic than I did about what we saw this week at BarCamp Budapest, at least according to my random sample of conversation. I enjoyed thoroughly being one of the only foreigners at hand, along with TechCrunch Europe editor, Mike Butcher and a handful of presenters. The best English-language tweet of the day came from Julia Krysztofiak-Szopa (AdTaily).
with all due respect for the #barcamp #budapest speakers – powerpoint presentation suicide & u don’t have to speak magyarul to notice it.
The truth is I hardly watched any of the presentations, except to occasionally poke my head in the door. I had been lead to believe that at BarCamp, the audience is the content, and so I used this as my excuse to largely ignore the prepared program and talk with people about what’s currently happening in the Hungarian online market.
Everybody’s heard about Jeremie, and several people I met had a business idea in their back pocket. The ad recession hit hard last year, and revenues are down across the board. One local media agency, Arcus, recently imploded. I have the impression that a good number of talented people are knocking around for opportunities.
Continue reading ‘What I learned by ignoring the presentations at BarCamp Budapest and talking to the audience’
It’s one thing to dream about changing the world with your revolutionary business idea. It’s quite another thing to convince an investor to put up the money. Your supporters might praise your idea, but they won’t provide you 40 hours of labor each week until you offer them a paycheck.
Money has a way of making things real.
Part of our job, with CITT, has been to share a dream. Centrope designates the border regions of four countries (AT, HU, CZ & SK). The distances are short, but the cultural differences are big. This region has great potential for innovation, but most of this knowledge is locked away in research labs, divided by increasingly abstract national borders.
CITT’s dream is to knock down those borders. Fortunately, we are not the only ones at work on this vision. If CITT and similar projects are successful, the results will be measured in new products, new companies, new jobs and new opportunities.
This is a big dream, and big dreams need money.
Continue reading ‘What Jeremie means to nowEurope & CITT’
An Austrian startup company, ASH DEC Umwelt, won third prize at the Eurocan European Venture Contest 2009, held this weekend in Barcelona. ASH DEC Umwelt is a clean tech company that recycle nutrients and metals from incineration residues.
The top prize of €90,000 went a Danish biotech company, Biomodics, while the second runner up was Liquavista, a Dutch ICT startup.
Organized by Europe Unlimited, the EEVC examined 376 European companies (out of 776 applicants) in a series of local and regional competitions. 313 investor experts took part in vetting the competitors. I also spent a day as an expert evaluator in the Budapest semi-final.
It’s also worth noting that one other CENTROPE company, the Hungarian ICT startup, Gravity R&D, made it to the EEVC Top 25.
A comment to Bernhard Schmid’s post from Oct. 21.
The world’s economy is based on growth, and growth implies competition. If one grows, the other one shrinks, that’s a law.
Until a few years ago this has been restricted to businesses only. All sectors of industry and trade, from the lone entrepreneur to the multinational giant underlie competition, and naturally, there’s always the question of who’s the biggest, richest, best etc.
Recently, in connection with the commercialisation of public services of all kinds, research and education entered the game. Schools and universities find themselves in all kinds of rankings, the quality of life is being measured, the businessability (my creation) of countries is published and thus Hungary suddenly must learn of its unfriendliness towards start ups, and such listings themselves could be submitted to a ranking …
What does this have to do with innovation awards? Continue reading ‘Innovation Awards: Yes, but.’
Nowadays, there are awards in almost any kind of area. Ranking from very well known awards in the area of pop culture such as the Oscars or the World Music Awards to awards for young academics in various fields. Last week I was made aware of an award in the area of technology that is taking place in Vienna. In an effort to stimulate and advocate the innovative potential of the Viennese technology sector, the ZIT (Centre for Innovation and Technology), Vienna’s technology agency, organises the Content Award 09. Until October 30th, participants can submit contributions in various fields such as computer games, short movies or videos with animated content. There is also a category for innovative concepts with the aim of bringing the city of Vienna closer to its citizens with the usage of broadband technology. The contest has an “Under 18” and a “Fempower” category in order to specifically get young people and women to participate.
Looking at that contest raised the question within me, whether or not such awards would make sense for the Centrope region as well?
Continue reading ‘Innovation awards for Centrope?’
Along with the increasing popularity of the technology debate in Austria during the last years and after numerous discussions with ICT researchers in the Centrope countries I realised that there is a striking resemblance in their complaints, although the statements themselves express the respective opposite. See also http://noweurope.com/2009/09/08/barriers-cooperation/#more-1293 by Vlastimil.
Simply speaking, the Austrians complain that there’s not enough money for basic research as all goes to applied research, whereas the Czech and Slovak Republics as well as Hungary (representing the situation in virtually all new EU member states and beyond) complain that universities concentrate too much on basic research and do not understand the importance of applied research. Continue reading ‘Basic vs. applied research: Potentials unused?’
A concrete opportunity for hi-tech innovative companies in Centrope is arising from the Eurecan European Venture Contest (EEVC) Semi Final hosted by ITD Hungary and NKTH in Budapest on October 28. 10 winners will get a free ticket to present themselves at the European Venture Summit in Düsseldorf on Nov 30 – Dec 1. They will also become a part of the EEVC Top 100, out of 25 most promising companies will be selected by a jury for the final in Barcelona (90,000 euros cash prize) in December.
The contest is organised by Europe Unlimited, our long-term partner located in Brussels, that has been working in this field for more than 10 years. Some readers may remember Steven Carlson and me assisting local companies from Hungary and Czech Republic to present their ventures at similar events a few years ago. This is where the efforts around the European Venture Forums turned into.
The EEVC aim is to identify, promote and reward the most innovative early stage companies in Europe with breakthrough innovation in ICT, Cleantech and Healthcare technology or services with international ambition and potential. 25 finalists will be selected within six semi-finals – to be held in Dusseldorf, Pamplona, Budapest, Turin, Luxembourg and Lisbon – and get a chance to network with investors, industry leaders and potential partners.
Continue reading ‘Apply for the venture contest 2009 semi-final in Budapest’
After sharing my experiences about what I call “hard core“ technology transfer I would also like to discuss with you two other forms of technology transfer that are working quite fine in my business environment:
1) Joint projects with research centers/universities
2) Hiring employees from universities/research centers
A very effective way for my company to gain new expertise has been to work jointly with research centers and/or universities. In all cases this has been a very fruitful cooperation, as on the one hand the RTD institution received hands-on market knowledge and on the other hand we received first class technological expertise.
As the next step I hired even employees of this research group if I planned research and innovation within our company over a longer period.
For my small company these approaches worked out very successfully. Do you have similar experiences? What is your opinion?
No question, China has gone through a robust development in recent decades. The Chinese have carefully planned and implemented steps that no other continent-size country could have done. But now they face an even more daunting challenging: innovation. The Chinese can make only copies, or isn’t that right? The answer will undoubtedly shape our global future.
I recently had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with a handful of young CEOs of leading Chinese. I would now like to briefly offer a few insights and conclusions.
Continue reading ‘Innovation or imitation – the challenge of China’