Bringing industry representatives with challenges in their production together with solution providers from the startup or scaleup realm – that is, in a nutshell, the concept of the competition BoostUp! Europe. Its 2023 final took place during the EIT Manufacturing Summit 2023.
The audience at the EIT Manufacturing Summit 2023 watched five finalist startups and scaleups present their suggestions for proof of concepts (PoCs). Each of them was awarded 30,000 € to facilitate implementing their technologies in five large corporations.
Focus on manufacturing
The BoostUp! Europe 2023 final featured a keynote by Kevin Lenehan, Director of Business Creation, and a panel discussion with representatives from Talgo, voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace and DANA, hosted by Łukasz Cioch, highlighting the benefits of business collaboration through matching skills.
Lander Iraragorri, Talgo‘s Corporate Venturing Program member, emphasised the significance of Incon.ai’s technological solutions for improving the processes of factory floor workers. He further highlighted Talgo’s future goals of innovation, talent attraction and startup connections as strategies for future-proofing manufacturing.
Aleksandar Stanojevich, Head of Innovation Management at Voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace, explained that joining BoostUp! Europe 2023 was a way for his organisation to explore a cooperative approach with R&D. He expressed appreciation towards Convergent IT who according to him demonstrated the best portfolio of solutions with low risk of failure. He further talked about the value that startups have to offer large corporations by ‘putting everything on the line to create a magical experience’.
Eleonora Brighenti, Head of Global Engineering within Sustainable Innovation of DANA, agreed with the importance of engaging in open innovation to address skills shortages through exploring technology integrations offered by startups. She explained that open innovation would allow DANA to benefit from the expertise and strategic approach that, in their case, Qualisence has to offer to enhance processes, freeing up time for significant value initiatives and streamlining processes. According to her, DANA had taken further measures to support various proof of concepts initiated by small and medium-sized companies, research and technology organisations and education institutions within the EIT Manufacturing network.
The panel discussion was wrapped up by an introduction to three of the BoostUp! Europe 2023 finalists who took the stage to present their pitches. Host Łukasz Cioch asked them to share their thoughts about the intuitiveness of coming up with solutions for each respective industry partner.
Fadri Furrer from incon.ai, whose PoC addresses Talgo’s challenge shared that his company had a perfectly matching technology which would help reduce rework and improve efficiency in manufacturing.
Mikko Sallinen of Convergent Information Technologies whose PoC addresses voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace challenge shared that even though his company had a technology that matches the case, the deeper Convergent IT worked on their solution, the more challenges they encountered, but was confident to tackle it eventually.
Zohar Kantor from QualiSense, addressing the challenge of DANA, admitted the desire to prove that QualiSense had the best offer to stand out from the tough competition that BoostUp! Europe 2023 posed. He added that one should not take anything for granted and that he looked forward to finding the ‘best constellation’ for working together with DANA.
A second round of panel discussion introduced the audience to three more industry partners answering similar questions presented by the host.
Emil Cerdier, CTO for Berg Propulsion, presented his company’s challenge within the marine industry, according to him, a traditionally conservative sector with a lack of connectivity and data use. However, with an evolving market, he sees things changing rapidly, allowing for efficient asset management and fuel economy. He believes that partnering with Sleeve would allow for adaptable solutions that transform Berg Propulsion, ensuring positive outcomes for both parties.
Dirk Thieme, Head of New Mobility & Innovations at Volkswagen, shared that the BoostUp! Europe 2023 challenge provided valuable insights into energy optimisation, enabling more flexibility in Volkswagen’s production and preparing for renewable energy. He concluded that the challenge emphasised the importance of understanding and utilising data and that Mavarick’s solution was the perfect match for the project.
Despite having no industrial challenge, Jean-Pascal Riss, Director of Business Strategy at Schneider Electric, also engaged in the panel discussion by pinpointing the importance of nurturing skills for enabling sustainability and productivity in the manufacturing industry. He highlighted the need for companies to correlate data from various parts of production to optimise processes. He concluded by saying that the recent energy crisis had accelerated this process, but still left much work to be done.
Once again, for this second round of panel discussion, startups were welcomed to the stage to share their business solutions along with their experience in tackling the presented challenges:
Dr Paul Byrnes from Mavarick began by explaining that his startup’s PoC required significant alterations but that thanks to operational synergies and collaborative problem-solving with Volkswagen they were able to put together a successful approach.
Mathias Ptacek from Sleeve similarly spoke about challenges his company faced when adapting to the marine industry due to requirements for compliance with several security regulations in the given sector. He shared that despite this, he was optimistic about the opportunity to collaborate with Berg Propulsion.