Mikhail Antonov, Deputy CEO — Director for Innovation Infrastructure Development, member of the management board of RVC JSC, has occupied this position from 2017. From 2012 to 2017, he has been a Director of the project office at the Moscow management school "Skolkovo". He told us of what the project must look like to be enrolled in the accelerator, what investors pay attention to and how the GenerationS participants build their further carrier.
GenerationS is a start-up-accelerator in Russia and Eastern Europe. It has been held by RVC since 2013. More than 20 Russian corporations become industrial partners of GenerationS every year. In 2016, 4237 applications from 30 different countries were submitted for participation in GenerationS. The GenerationS-2016 prize fund amounted to 15 million rubles. The total of prizes from partners exceeded 100 million rubles.
— We form every new season of GenerationS based on the analysis of trends in the venture market. Now we try to attract corporations to the corporation’s venture ecosystem. From 2015, big corporations acts as customers ordering acceleration programs.
The second trend is that companies from the conventional industries — metallurgy, mining, agriculture, consumer goods industry — more often search for innovative solutions. It’s advantageous for them to cooperate with start-ups; this way they get access to new technologies and it’s easy for them to stand out from the competitors.
The companies from the traditional industries — metallurgy, mining, agriculture, consumer goods industry — more often search for innovative solutions.
Considering both trends, six basic directions of corporate acceleration approved for the next 3 years have been launched in GenerationS2017. These directions include increase in efficiency of agriculture and solutions in the field of new pharmaceuticals (Agro&MedTech); power energy (Power & Energy); banking and financial services (FinTech); metals processing, automated control of mining machinery (Mining&Metals); smart production (TechNet); fashion, design, entertainment and new media (Creative).
The main range of tracks can be extended based on the requests from partners. This was how the seventh track Dual Technologies came to exist in the accelerator — civil developments that can be used for the creation of military and special machinery. The exclusive license to launch Dual Technologies track in GenerationS is owned by RVC Infrafund.
Faberlic, СТС Media, Airbus, Krastsvetmet, Vimpelkom, NMZK Group, ODK-Saturn, RT-Business Development (Rostec Group), Voentelekom, Roselectronics, Aviation Center n. a. Ilyushin, EFKO Group are among the partner corporations of GenerationS in this year.
— Special nominations allow companies to get access to the developments, discover future trends. But unlike the acceleration program, the nomination doesn’t imply start-up training. That is why this opportunity is interesting for the companies that are not ready for launching their own accelerator, but willing to start working with start-ups on the open market. This year, a special nomination Digital Innovations is represented by Vimpelkom; Biotechnology and genomics in AIC appeared due to EFKO Group, special nominations of the task forces Marinet, Neuronet and Healthnet of the NTI (National Technology Initiative) were created. Furthermore, in the final of GenerationS that will be held in April 2018, representatives of a university and a city submitting the highest number of applications, will be awarded a winner cup and prizes from the graduates.
Start-ups participate in the accelerator for the purpose of finding new growing points for business. They learn how to create a business model, prepare presentations for investors, get first experience of public speeches. Entrepreneurs get access to the face-to-face meetings with experts, business angels and representatives of corporations. Afterwards, they often continue cooperating with those whom they met at the accelerator. Many technological entrepreneurs are awarded grants from the Foundation for Assistance to Innovations, become Skolkovo residents.
Many technological entrepreneurs receive grants from the Foundation for Assistance to Innovations, become Skolkovo residents.
Last year we started to analyse development of start-ups graduates on a regular basis. This was how we found key issues the projects face with after the completion of accelerator. Primarily, this is a challenging access to investments for science-driven projects, difficulties in sales and lack of skilled personnel. Considering these conclusions, we form necessary tools to support start-ups.
— Last year, the most demanded field among corporations was FinTech. Based on the results of GenerationS-2016, more than 50 deals were signed between the technological entrepreneurs, corporations and investors, 35 of them were related to financial technologies.
Last year, the most demanded field among corporations was FinTech.
Applications for participation in 2017 program are still welcome. Following the collection of the first thousand of applications, we can make a conclusion that the most demanded track for the second year in a row among start-ups is Creative, 29% of the projects would like to participate in it. Agro&MedTech with 27% occupied the second place, TechNet with 16% was on the third place. Top three cities with the greatest number of potential GenerationS participants are Moscow (31%), Ulyanovsk (9%) and Irkutsk (8%). Share of regional projects increases — we expect that this, finally, will reach at least 65%.
Popularity of tracks differs from the region to region. For example, Agro&MedTech track every year enjoys the highest recognition in Bashkortostan — one third of the total number of applications are submitted there. This is due to the fact that there are a lot of pharmaceutical company in this area, and a half of the area is designed for agricultural purposes. There is a strong engineering and technology school in Samara that is why TechNet is the most demanded track in this city.
— Of course, primarily we look for interesting ideas and new technologies. Innovativeness of the development plays the main role in selection for participation in the accelerator. However, in order to become a viable start-up, the idea should be revised from the point of view of business and market demand. The project should include commercialization and scaling plans — these parameters are required when filling in the basic application for participation in the accelerator.
It is also necessary to consider the fact that our partners — corporations order acceleration programs and a lot of things depend on the tasks relevant for them. The corporation experts evaluate compliance of technology with the company demands, the project team also plays an important role.
The project should include commercialization and scaling plans — these parameters are required when filling in the basic application for participation in the accelerator.
The main purpose of the accelerator is to help potentially successful start-ups to reach a new level of development. Team training process and project refinement is carried out under the tight schedule — the accelerator start working in November and, in April, we will select its winners and share information about the first deals. When a project team wants to reach the final, it should be ready for intensive training.
We also select and develop early-stage projects by growing a new generation of start-ups for future accelerators. The Pre-accelerator works as part of GenerationS-2017 for novice technological entrepreneurs. It will be composed of teams with projects that will get high scores at the online expertise stage, but due to the early stage of development will not be able to participate in the main accelerator. The applicants will be offered to undergo online training and full-time educational program, fine-tune their start-ups until the next development level, which will increase their chances for participation in the next-year cycle corporate accelerator
— Every GenerationS start-up can amaze and inspire. Graduates’ experience shows that the projects have potential for renewal and adjustment of entire industries. Thus, for example, RCML founders developed a programming language that can unite industrial robots of different manufacturers within a single network. We can also highlight Promobot, ExoAtlet, BioMicroGels, WiseSoil, NanoServe and many other projects among the most vivid technology projects.
Sometimes, ideas that seem to be very simple at first sight turn out to be promising. For example, Panda Money, a project for teaching financially literacy to children and adults in a playing form. The Japanese government has already invited the guys to take part in a two-month acceleration program for product launch on the Japanese market.
— At GenerationS, both hardware manufacturers and software developers occupy equal positions. As I said previously, the most attractive direction for investors in 2016 was financial technology, and FinTech developers create mainly software. One of the track winners was a team that developed a trade robot for market analytics Cindicator as well as Yango, a mobile application that makes it possible to sell and purchase bonds from a smart phone.
For a long time, the most demanded direction of the venture industry has been the software: investors invest in applications, social networks and services. Investments in hardware was previously mainly the state prerogative. Besides, enterprises from the traditional industries are more conservative, and the process of innovation integration has not gained momentum yet. However, "hard" high-tech start-ups find demand in the business environment. I am sure thanks to to the developing support programs, the Russian engineers will get access to the innovation infrastructure to implement their ideas.
Investments in the hardware were previously mainly the state prerogative. Besides, enterprises from the traditional industries are more conservative, and the process on innovation integration has not gained momentum yet. However, "hard" high-tech start-ups find demand in the business environment
RVC can boast of having projects aimed at promotion of the engineer profession, in particular, technology competitions. Competitions involving students, postgraduates, research associates of universities and technological entrepreneurs help attract attention of the developers to the key technology directions. For the third year in a row, an NTI Olympia is held, which is an engineering team competition that gives an opportunity to the talented schoolchildren from all over Russia to "try on" the profession of an engineer and get significant advantages when entering a university for profession-oriented specialties. RVC acts its co-organizer.
— RVC is a Project office of the National Technology Initiative. Five of six tracks search for solutions for the benefit of NTI directions. Technet NTI task force is a co-organizer of the similarly-named track of the advanced production technologies. Special nominations of NTI Marinet, Healthnet and Neuronet markets are also open in the GenerationS-2017 accelerator. The best projects will be considered by the Task forces of directions to be included in the NTI roadmap, will get a bundled infrastructural, administrative and financial support. A list of directions for interaction of start-up teams with the NTI task forces will be extended.
— GenerationS forms a stream of high-quality projects for demands of investors and big business. Start-ups react to the trends faster, they create technologies and platforms contributing to digitalization of the economy. The accelerator’s role here is to help corporations to search for such solutions and integrate into the production and business processes. Start-ups, in their turn, get mentor support, raise investments, get involved in the cooperation networks.
Among the examples of "digital" start-ups one may point to Oz Forensics that helps to perform a quick document check. This is a new step in digitalization: the application detects a fake in images or scanned documents and helps tracking so as to understand who opened the document before. The technology of the Robotics track finalist in GenerationS-2015, VisionLabs company (face recognition system), comes already into use in many fields from the banking products to HR and recruiting. In Mining&Metals direction, an AGE (automation of geological exploration) project underwent acceleration. AGE helps minerals developers and service geological companies collect, process and analyse primary geologic information in online mode.
Source: TheRunet. com