EBN Targets Efficiency in Innovation Support Ecosystem

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Javier Echarri

While attempting to grow, start-ups and scale-ups can seek support from various public and private initiatives. Their huge number, however, can create confusion among entrepreneurs, especially those without any business background. The European Business and Innovation Center Network, EBN hopes to tackle this issue by placing focus on efficiency.

Founded in 1984, EBN is an international network of 180 European Business and Innovation Centres, or EU BICs, and other business support organisations. CEO Javier Echarri says that the network aims at continuously improving the quality of support provided to innovative start-ups.

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Echarri, who has a mixed background, having moved from the heavy industry through to nonprofits and then heading a private equity group, views the support ecosystem as overcrowded. He believes that a big proportion of the currently available support initiatives are inefficient and that they disturb the perception of the support system in the marketplace regardless of how well-intentioned they may be.

EBN is now taking actions to demonstrate that its members are the ones best suited to drive growth. The network plans to beef up the required quality certificate for all of its EU BICs through a reshaped peer review mechanism that will be introduced in January 2020.

Also, it intends to launch an internationalisation programme for its members and the companies they support in order to escape from the regional scale. More specifically, the new offer will help entrepreneurs obtain international support of the same level they would at home. This will not be limited to just Europe, as EBN has certified partners in Canada, the US, Brazil, Colombia, Taiwan, India, and China, as well.

This year’s EBN Congress will encourage EU BICs to work on stronger business models in cooperation with investors, both regionally and globally. Echarri points at the importance of companies breaking away from the focus of being regional. EBN, he says, can help in that regard by establishing contacts with new investors and clients, pushing BICs from different regions to work together, and attempting to connect the highest potential companies with the next stage investors.

EBN is a partner of the InvestHorizon project, which, Echarri says, can facilitate the process of identifying more specialised investors for scale-up level companies. Moreover, he believes that InvestHorizon can assist the network in its mission to become more international.

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