The development of startups "DeepTech"s, whose innovation is based on a major technological, scientific or engineering breakthrough, relies on enhanced collaboration with their ecosystem, but well beyond their funding needs. This is what emerges from a groundbreaking survey by the Boston Consulting Group and Hello Tomorrow.
A At the opening of the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit on October 13 and 14 at the Centquatre in Paris, Hello Tomorrow and the Boston Consulting Group unveil a global survey of the challenges facing startups. "DeepTech" in their development. What it reveals: 95% of the technology startups want an industrial partnership to develop but only 50% of them have managed to form one.
The objective of this survey, the first brick in a larger study on the dynamics at work within the DeepTech ecosystem (to be published at the end of the year), is to identify the development and collaboration needs of these innovators, many of whom come from the research world. How can we identify the levers that can be used to accelerate collaboration and interaction between start-ups with not only large groups but also with other players in the ecosystem (venture capital funds, universities, incubators, business angels)?
A global survey of 300 startups
The survey - in which 300 startups worldwide from various sectors and stages of maturity (Early, Mid and Late stage) took part - reveals on the one hand that the challenges facing startups go well beyond financial aspects and on the other hand that, while more than 95% of them would like to work with a company to help them with their non-financial needs, only 50% have developed an industrial partnership. This discrepancy can be explained in particular by the very great caution shown by start-ups towards companies that are structurally and culturally distant from their reality. The study highlights the crucial importance for startups to interact with their ecosystem - companies, investors, universities, etc. - in order to develop their business. - The study highlights the crucial importance for start-ups to interact with their ecosystem - companies, investors, universities, etc. - to accelerate their development. A mission that Hello Tomorrow, in partnership with the BCG, has set itself through this survey, for whom this discrepancy is not the fault of industrial partners but due to The "over-cautiousness of start-ups with regard to companies that are structurally and culturally distant from their realities".
Four major lessons
Beyond the need for significant capital, DeepTech startups face two challenges: when asked about the main challenges hindering their development, they cite first and foremost the time it takes to bring their innovation to market (27% of respondents). These are structurally long and often underestimated by more than half of them (55%). Only secondarily, start-ups cite capital requirements (for 25% of them). Indeed, the capital intensity of DeepTech startups is much higher than that of non-DepTech startups with higher upstream financing needs (equipment, infrastructure, technologies, etc.).
Finally, 16% of the startups also report a high degree of uncertainty about their commercial outlets, with great difficulty in adapting their product or technology to the market (more than one startup in two states that they need more information and analysis of the economic environment, particularly in the marketing phase).
Faced with this observation, more than 95% of the startups surveyed believe they are interested in working with a company to support them in their non-financial needs. The majority of the startups surveyed said that these partnerships would enable them to meet their needs for support when bringing their product or technology to market by giving them direct access to commercial data, distribution networks, allowing them to refine their customer segmentation, etc.
However, 50% of the startups surveyed do not currently benefit from any industrial partnership with a company (partnership often limited to a simple R&D collaboration). Two factors explain this discrepancy. Firstly, few platforms or opportunities for meetings exist between startups and companies. Second, for the startups surveyed, collaboration with a company is often synonymous with loss of control: risk of divergence of vision and objectives, fear of loss of agility, etc.
In France, despite the strong interest of the startups surveyed in partnering with companies, the latter are weakly present in the French startup ecosystem. In particular, opportunities for meeting between startups and companies are more limited: only 65% of French startups manage to get in touch with companies (compared to 85% for the rest of the respondents worldwide).
Erasing the boundaries between research and business
How can we accelerate the transformation of laboratory discoveries into products and services on the market to have a real impact on industry and society? Rather than creating new intermediaries, Hello Tomorrow's choice is to erase the existing boundaries between research and business.
Over the last fifteen years, governments have created technology transfer institutions with the role of connecting research and business, with the risk of an accumulation of actors creating more interfaces, and thus a complexified path between research and the market. As Suzanne Berger suggested (1) in his report, "Reforms in the French Industrial Ecosystem."(2), Rather, it is a question of "focusing reforms on creating a broader and more dynamic interface between university research and training and business".
This interface today is materialized via startups.
(1)] Professor at MIT and Director of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative.