A little over a year ago, the province of North Brabant, the regional development authority REWIN, the Brabant Development Agency (BOM) and InnovatieLink hit upon the idea of setting up an accessible innovation fund – BioBooster – to encourage biobased initiatives in Brabant. This scheme was intended to tie in better with the way innovative SME entrepreneurs were doing business in the biobased economy.
Now, a year later, it is clear that this idea hit the mark. There are five good reasons for this.
1. more with less: with a maximum contribution of EUR 10,000, entrepreneurs go a long way in the initial stage. It guards them against costly disappointments. They quickly find out whether their ideas have some chance of success and the best way to outline further action.
2. cut the crap: the entrepreneur is given a decisive answer about his application within one week. Time is of the essence for entrepreneurs who are at the start of their innovation process. They rarely have the luxury of being able to wait for months; they want to know straight away where they stand.
3. no time to wait: another advantage is that entrepreneurs can submit their application at any time. Entrepreneurs face challenges that come up at a specific moment and require immediate attention. A team of experts in biobased economy and business development assesses the requests. This provides the entrepreneurs with the immediate recognition that they are not the only ones who think it is a good idea.
4. value in kind: it also helps that in exchange the entrepreneurs can put their own time to use in particular. SME entrepreneurs do not usually have a generous budget. An in-kind contribution lowers the threshold for submitting an application.
5. beyond regions: although BioBooster is intended in the first instance for entrepreneurs in North Brabant, cooperation with parties elsewhere in the country is highly desirable. Companies are mainly looking for the best business partners and they do not stop at the regional borders.
All in all, BioBooster is a good example of how innovative entrepreneurs can be helped on their way in the initial phase. A scheme that deserves to be followed on a national scale.
Chris Bruijnes, director InnovatieLink