Being a science-innovator in Eastern Europe is tough these days. The whole environment is not supportive, especially for scientists with big ambitions for their invention. But actually, dreams are to follow, they drive the development of society and help man pass through hard moments.
Beyond pre-accelerator has been working with hundreds of innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs for the last 4years, so the team knows all challenges that science-innovators have. In this article all of them are described with some guidelines about how to tackle them.
Most science-innovators think that they need materials, instruments/machines, space etc. in order to continue their R&D. It is true, but all this can be solved with good funding. Unfortunately, the funding opportunities for science and deep tech startups are not enough. There are two funding sources for this kind of project:
· Public money (grants, calls, tenders)
There are EU and national calls that offer €30-150k for proof of concept. Here, usually innovators don’t know about these opportunities or write poor proposals. That’s why it is a good idea to check constantly about calls and attract some experienced business-orientated person, who can help you with better proposal writing.
· Venture Capital/ Business Angels
The issues here are that science-innovators and investors speak different languages. Most innovators are too focused on the product/research, till the investors want clear business logic, especially when the project has a long-term horizon and needs much more finances than an IT startup to develop. So here again it is good to have a business-orientated co-founder who can translate and present your idea on business language.
Find more details about these and other funding opportunities in the article “11 startup funding sources”.
Many science-innovators prefer to work alone or with other science-innovators. This can be critical for the successful development of the project because the expertise and viewpoints are too limited to one or two spheres. If an innovator wants to continue developing his/her invention and deliver something valuable to society then for sure he/she needs business people in the team like sales, marketing, finance etc. By the way, this is the most recent reason why investors don’t invest in projects only with scientists.
3. Intellectual property
Scientists know the value of it, but there are many cases with gaps in the intellectual property. All these gaps can lead to missing profits and even losses. That’s why it is very important for science and deep tech innovations to know what is really valuable in their invention from business perspective. This can be done not only by using the services of a lawyer but also a business person in the area is needed.
It is clear that scientists are excited to do science, but nowadays it is almost impossible without business logic behind it. All investors, grants etc. want to see a commercialization plan in order to fund a specific project and as we talked about without funding, it is hard to do science. That’s why, again science people need business co-founders to help them develop the project and take care about commercialization plan. Otherwise innovators just do things for fun and except scientists no one is interested in these projects.
So where to find business people?
The best way to find these people is at startup events and pre-acceleration programs, where people gather to brainstorm, exchange and develop ideas and experience. Many business professionals search for new exciting projects with the opportunity to develop their skills, work on something meaningful and make profit in the long-term. That’s why you can follow Beyond pre-accelerator’s event in order to feel the full vibe of the innovators’ ecosystem in Bulgaria.