DeepTech Alliance: A Model of European Collaboration for a Better Future

DeepTech Alliance: A Model of European Collaboration for a Better Future

by Enrico Deluchi

Copenhagen, 2018

The Danish Industry Foundation, recognizing the urgent need for radical innovations and international collaboration to tackle global challenges such as carbon emissions reduction and supply chain transformations, embarked on a mission to turn these challenges into growth opportunities by launching a call for international alliances.

DTU Science Park emerged as the natural partner to manage an initiative connecting the most promising European Deep Tech startups with business partners needed to get their solutions to market and scale internationally. The goal was clear: to join forces with other startup ecosystem hubs across Europe while ensuring the initiative was efficient and easy to engage with, to avoid bureaucratic pitfalls and enable things to get done.

The ambition was to build a community of members from different countries who could each leverage their regional networks to bring the best startups, corporates and investors together to explore business and innovation opportunities. The initiative was called DeepTech Alliance (DTA).

“You need a spark to start a fire.”

Radical innovations, often termed “Deep Tech,” are science-based technological breakthroughs capable of creating new products and solutions that transform markets and industries. These innovations typically originate in university labs and are often brought to market by startups.

According to the European
Intellectual Property Office
(EUIPO) an estimated 95% of granted patents in Europe (around 3 million) are (commercially) “inactive”. Yet, the effective commercialisation of the remaining 5% of granted European patents brings a contribution of nearly 40% of the EU GDP.

We have world class scientific research in Europe with lots of potential for impactful innovation, but too much European IP is commecially inactive. We need to bring
Europe into the champions league of innovation as well. The innovation challenges are much the same across Europe. Corporates are looking for solutions to stay ahead
of the curve and VCs are looking for promising investment targets but it’s a daunting task keeping tabs on everything happening in multiple ecosystems across the 44 countries on the continent. On the other hand startups are seeking market opportunities and capital to expand internationally but it’s difficult to cut through the noise and catch the attention of industrial giants and courted investors. Incubators, accelerators, venture builders and innovation parks associated with technical universities are where new technologies are nurtured into market-ready innovations. As such they can serve as natural brokers on the innovation market place, but none of them can do it alone – international collaboration is needed.

The DTA initiative was the spark to start the fire, but tinder was needed to get the fire blazing, so DTU Science Park began approaching peers in other major countries. One key partner DTU approached was PoliHub, the innovation park and startup accelerator of Politecnico di Milano. At that time, I had just joined as CEO. The initiative was extremely attractive for all our stakeholders: our top Deep Tech startups could meet major international corporates, saving months of sales efforts. Our corporate partners would access an international deal flow of validated startups, and my team would learn from the best practices of other innovation ecosystems. I decided to join.

Barcelona, June 2024 – Today

I am sitting on the terrace of Pier01 Tech City, awaiting the closing party of the DTA Clean Energy program. Corporates, startups, investors and accelerators from all over Europe are joining this event, hosted by The Collider & Mobile World Capital, to explore collaboration opportunities.

I am now chairman of DeepTech Alliance. Looking back, we have come a long way since inception, six years ago: we count 10 member countries, represented by their top Deep Tech innovators, with a goal to reach 20 by the end of 2026. Since 2021 we have collectively assessed over 6,500 ventures within the European ecosystem. DTA has conducted six Business Creation Programs, identifying over 220 business opportunities between 126 mature European startups and 45 international corporates from 25 countries, along with 158 direct investor introductions.

It is encouraging to see how these meetings have enabled cross border collaborations like Tech Energy Ventures from Italy investing in Luminescent from Israel generating clean electricity from waste heat, Bosch in Hungary collaborating with Ipercept from Sweden to improve operational efficiency at their factory in Maklár by implementing IPercept’s machine health solution or RunawayFBU from Norway investing in Wsense from Italy and their underwater wireless communication solution for offshore renewables and critical infratructure.

Years have passed since the spark was ignited in Denmark, and we can now celebrate the
tangible results of our collective efforts.

However, the challenges we face today – societal, economic, and geopolitical – are even greater than they were six years ago. Transforming problems into opportunities requires more collaboration, innovation, and goodwill.

I am convinced that if we collaborate as Europeans, we have the capacity to lead the way towards a more sustainable and just global society, realizing DeepTech Alliance’s vision: “Joining forces to unleash the full potential of European science-based innovation for global impact.”

Now, it’s time for me to wrap up and prepare for the opening remarks to the event. And to welcome the 11th member of the alliance, Beta-i from Portugal.

We are looking forward to our upcoming events in Munich, Oslo and Paris for welcoming more new organizations to join our collective endeavor of fostering collaboration and innovation across borders.

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