On the eve of the launch of a new edition of the program set up by Digital Attraxion, a look back at five years of existence of an original concept associating start-ups and large companies.
There are countless support, incubation or acceleration initiatives, nor the Walloon funding bodies that have been created to support digitally oriented start-ups. For example, the MoveUp program launched by Digital Attraxion, the digital accelerator of Sambrinvest, Wapinvest and IMBC, the fifth edition of which ended recently. The opportunity to take stock of a tool generally little known to the general public.
There are countless support, incubation or acceleration initiatives, nor the Walloon funding bodies that have been created to support digitally oriented start-ups. For example, the MoveUp program launched by Digital Attraxion, the digital accelerator of Sambrinvest, Wapinvest and IMBC, the fifth edition of which ended recently. The opportunity to take stock of a tool generally little known to the general public. In the ecosystem, however, MoveUp stands out from most other initiatives. Firstly because each year, this acceleration program focuses on a very specific theme, such as e-health, artificial intelligence (AI), industry 4.0 or mobility. But also because it bridges the gap between start-ups and large companies, corporates from different sectors. Concretely, MoveUp selects a few start-ups each year which, in the chosen fields, have at least one prototype and want to confront it with the market. They have six months of support, 100,000 euros in the form of a convertible loan and contact with large companies or, in the case of e-health, hospitals, for example. “For large companies, specifies Emilie Fockedey, director of the MoveUp program, this should enable them to develop innovations more quickly on subjects that they do not have time to explore and for which they do not necessarily want devote time and resources.” Young shoots, for their part, have the direct possibility of working with companies in their core target group, but not necessarily always very accessible or open to this type of collaboration. In five years, “221 files have been presented to the Selection Committee (i.e. ± 12% of the files analyzed), 166 files have been accepted and 127 have been “forced” for an amount of 11.4 million”, evokes Digital Attraction. But for what result on arrival? “We still know very few large scale-ups that have come out of this program, even five years later, regrets this specialist in start-ups and investment, well aware of the Walloon ecosystem. surprising that some of the start-ups included in the program are already quite old and even have several fundraisers, sometimes far from anecdotal, to their credit. Does this mean that they are lagging behind and should therefore not be among the selection?” The young director of the program nevertheless sweeps away this criticism: “these older start-ups have either developed a medical device, which implies time before managing to impose themselves, or they want to test different business models”. That an acceleration program accompanies these slightly more “older” start-ups would therefore make sense. For Emilie Fockedey, MoveUp is a success anyway. “Many very positive and quite different elements have already come out of this program, she insists. When we talk about collaboration between start-ups and corporates, several scenarios are available. But in many cases, the collaboration continues. We even saw a company like Rossel fully integrate Kotplanet last year, which confirms the added value of a start-up for a large group. company – an apparently negative scenario – can turn out to be very interesting, because it has made it possible, for example, to realize that such a product was not applicable.For the start-up, this leads to a change of business model. And for the company, it makes it possible to draw the same conclusion without having to put teams on the job. On both sides, it’s a time saver.” We did not get many details or precise figures on the returns of MoveUp. But “half of the start-ups in the program then raised funds for more than 10 million euros, specifies Emilie Fockedey. This corresponds to a leverage effect of 3 euros per euro invested by Digital Attraxion”. Figures that should however be put into perspective since, in the list of start-ups in question, a young telemedicine shoot like MoveUp (which bears the same name as the program but it is a coincidence) has already raised 3.65 million euros alone in 2021. At the start of the MoveUp program, Digital Attraxion harbored the hope of attracting foreign start-ups, with a view to developing an ecosystem on certain themes, to attracting innovation unavailable in Belgium and, why not, employment. In total, eight of them joined the program and benefited from the approach and the funds. One of them even came to settle in the Walloon Region before… moving again. The international approach has obviously not had any real success. So much so that today, the managers of MoveUp have decided to refocus the program on Belgian start-ups, and even essentially Walloon ones. It is in this sense that they envisage the next edition, the call for projects of which will start in the fall and will once again focus on the theme of e-health.