We decided to connect with international AIA participants and delve deeper into cross-border innovation. The Accenture Innovation Awards (AIA) is a year-round innovation program, creating an extensive ecosystem to connect all pioneers. For many years, the Accenture Innovation Awards focused on disruptive innovations in the Netherlands. However, the worldwide technological revolution goes far beyond our borders. That is why this year our eight themes reflect the global challenges we face. Innovators need to solve challenges through an international collaborative effort. Keeping this in mind, we decided to learn more about our new AIA-joiners from across the globe. What does innovation mean to them, how is their country supporting innovation, and how internationally applicable is their innovation?
What does innovation mean to you?
The American company SecureHome protects smart homes by monitoring and responding to atypical behavior in all the connected devices inside your home. To them, innovation means “challenging the status quo and providing a solution that has a profound impact, bringing value to consumers and the organization”.
The German InstaFreight, a Mobility pioneer, facilitates fast and simple processing of freight transports. When asked about innovation, their answer echoed SecureHome’s response: on the one hand, innovation solves an urgent problem, and on the other hand it creates value for the company and satisfies customers.
Baffle, an American Security innovator, also claims that innovation means solving tough problems around customers and the market —and creating a novel approach on how to solve challenges. Their concept transparently encrypts data as it enters databases, automates key management and ensures that enterprises can keep on running their applications without any interruptions.
VDOO, of Israel, disrupts the Security industry by building a platform that offers diagnosis, validation and certification of IoT products’ security. Theo Ben Haim, VDOO’s Business Development Manager, recognizes innovation opportunities in addressing the current cyber security challenge. He states that innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, is actively encouraged at VDOO to tackle the global security challenge.
However, Security is not the only global issue theme that needs to be discussed. The Belgian company Synergia Medical is contributing to the increasingly competitive Health industry by developing medical devices for a wide range of applications. For them, innovation means “taking two (or more) separated ‘things’ and assembling them together in a way that has not been done before”.
One of our other Health innovators hails from Poland. The Drug-Eluting Biopsy Needle (DEBN) is a unique prostate biopsy needle which helps develop antibiotics to aid the fight against prostate cancer. Marcin Sieczkowski, a certified urologist, claims that innovation means “changing the world into a better place”.
This definition of innovation is shared by Urbantz, which believes that innovation is “anything that could drastically influence our lives in a positive way”. Urbantz is a Belgian Mobility pioneer that optimizes the interaction between stakeholders in the logistics sector.
BroadBit Batteries, located in Finland, focuses on developing revolutionary new batteries to power the green economy. To them, innovation is “fundamentally changing how batteries operate, how they are produced and what they are made from”.
How is innovation supported in your country?
Since SecureHome and Baffle are based in the US, for them the answer to this question is perhaps obvious – the U.S. has many accelerators, investment opportunities and entrepreneurs to help fuel business and trade.
VDOO, located in Israel, also prides itself on its country’s rich access to promotion, support and sources of funding.
In Europe, Polish DEBN claims that their country is full of “friendly people willingly sharing pro bono advice” on how to put their medical device into clinical practice. In Scandinavia, Finnish BroadBit Batteries have the advantage of being close to Business Finland, a government agency funding startups and co-funding research and development projects.
Next, InstaFreight, based in Germany, has the advantage of having close access to technology-specific programs and organizations such as Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V. that try to “create a breeding ground for start-ups” by negotiating with the German government. Belgium’s business scene is like the German one, with similar advantages. The Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation is one of the research foundations in Belgium that actively supports the technological scene, according to Urbantz.
Is your innovation applicable across borders?
The co-founder of SecureHome says that since cyber-attacks are happening worldwide, SecureHome has created a “cloud-based solution that can be used in any country” to counter those attacks. Similarly, Urbantz’s innovation also operates on a cloud-based design, meaning that their mobility solution can also be applied worldwide.
Sieczkowski, of DEBN, argues that since their company is addressing a global medical problem, their product is international. Addressing a global challenge is also a reason for Brown, of BroadBit Batteries, to claim that “their product is not only applicable, but also necessary around the world”. Just as the transformation of the fossil fuel economy worldwide is necessary because of the increasing pernicious effects of global warming, for instance.
InstaFreight, Baffle, Synergia Medical, and VDOO all agree their technologies are, just like that of the others, very much applicable cross-borders. Not surprisingly, nowadays cross-border applicability is essential for innovators in our inter-connected world.
What does all this tell us?
Innovators all over the world are united in their goal to make our world a better place. Although their areas of expertise differ vastly, an open-minded approach to society’s challenges is shared among all these inspiring, international pioneers. A cold-hearted business ethic belongs to the past, because contemporary innovative opportunities are closely intertwined with the existential challenges of our time. Looking beyond our borders is no longer just sound business advice; it’s what our world demands.
Want to know more about the AIA18 participants mentioned in this article? Read on!
Did you know that most of the questioned pioneers have already raised a sizeable amount of funding? Urbantz has recently raised €3m in Series A, which is a great success for such a young pioneer. InstaFreight is another disrupting AIA participant, since just under a year ago, they have raised €8m Series A! Moreover, Synergia Medical is overtaking InstaFreight with raising €8.1mn in Series A last February.
More surprisingly though, the young Baffle has already raised $9.5m in total funding. VDOO’s achievement of raising $13m Series A from big names such as 83North and Dell Technologies Capital still seems unsurpassable.
We all know that funding is just a part of the success story though. For instance, SecureHome has had their exhibition at the Hartford InsurTech Hub: Demo Day 2018 in April, and DEBN’s success is that they ended up finalists of the MIT Enterprise Forum in Poland. Those are some milestones to be proud of!
Finally, BroadBit Batteries is currently developing technology for electric vehicles, portable electronics, and grid energy storage. Let’s find out more about them at AIA18!