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MATCHER International Open Innovation Program

MATCHER International Open Innovation Program

MATCHER is the first International Open Innovation Program promoted by Regione Emilia-Romagna. The program was set up to lay the groundwork within the regional ecosystem for the collaborative development of innovative solutions in the fields of Smart Mobility, Healthcare & Wellbeing, and Future of Packaging.
These three key topics were chosen because they have been identified as economic drivers in the regional smart specialisation strategy as well as flagship sectors that will be part of the Emilia-Romagna region contribution to the Italian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

ART-ER, the Emilia-Romagna Region’s Agency for Attractiveness Research Territory, delivered the ambitious program engaging 40 multi-sector Corporates and scouting nationally and internationally for 43 best-of-breed Startups and scale-ups from 12 different countries (as detailed on slide 12 and 36 in the attached document). The Corporates and Startups recently came together in Bologna on the 13th and 14th of November to meet in person and kickstart partnerships and joint projects. The program was structured in 4 phases:

Phase 1 Corporates Engagement and Challenge definition (June - July 2019)

40 Corporates responded to the call for interest that was launched during three dedicated presentation events. The events were attended by over 140 people hence mobilising a wide variety of actors in the ecosystem and disseminating the program to a wide audience. In this way, 40 Corporates, 37,5% of which had not worked with ART-ER before, came forward to take on the challenge of innovating MATCHER’s three sectors. This was also achieved thanks to the support of ART-ER’s project partners, such as trade associations and clusters, that contributed to promote the program (as detailed on slide 5 in the attached document).

The Corporates were divided in 3 multi-sector groups focussing respectively on Smart Mobility, Healthcare & Wellbeing, and Future of Packaging. They then took part in a working group to define a set of technological challenges for each topic. This phase saw the Corporates collaborating to analyse the current trends for their topic and identify their technological needs guided by expert facilitators who used open innovation methodologies to support the working group.

Key figures:
3 Presentation events
3 Open innovation working groups, 1 for each topic.
90 Attendees from 40 Corporates took part in the working groups to identify their technological needs.
16 companies for Smart Mobility
19 companies for Healthcare and Wellbeing
16 companies for Future of Packaging
3 Topics with a total of 19 challenges were identified
7 challenges for Smart Mobility
7 challenges for Healthcare and Wellbeing
5 challenges for Packaging respectively

The challenges based on Corporates’ feedback and needs were the foundation for the call4startups.

Phase 2 Call4startups & International roadshow (July - September 2019)

The international call4startups and scale-ups opened in July 2019 and received over 120 applications in a little over three months. The call’s main requirement was for applicants to put forward solutions to match the challenges set by the Corporates. The International scouting roadshow showcased MATCHER in 8 countries, including China and Australia, and thus contributed to raise the profile of the program and the Emilia-Romagna region as an innovative and attractive place for international businesses.The call attracted 28% more applications than expected and some applicants quoted as motivation for applying the strategic value of doing business with companies from the region. Others identified Italy more generally as a strategic starting point for product testing and validation and as an important market for their business.

Key figures:
13 Roadshow events to scout startups internationally.
2 Corporate events to keep Corporates up to date with the call latest developments.
66% of applications received were from international startups
35% of applications received were presented by startups that had a product with a TRL of 8 signalling a high level of maturity amongst applicants.

The applications were vetted over two evaluation phases: one involving a committee and one involving the Corporates producing a final short-list of 43 Startups comprising 15 for Smart Mobility, 15 for Healthcare & Wellbeing, 13 for Future of Packaging.

Phase 3 MATCHER International Open Innovation Event (13th/14th November 2019)

Corporates and Startups taking part in the program came together in Bologna during the final event on the 13th and 14th November 2019. During MATCH.POINT, the first event session, Startups had the opportunity to pitch for the Corporate panel before embarking on two sessions of meetings to talk through the feasibility of a partnership and kick off joint projects. The first session of ‘Business Matches’ was organised based on the feedback gathered from Corporates and Startups both before the event and right after the pitch sessions. Each participant in this phase took part in at least 5 15 mins long meetings some of which were one-to-one, whilst others included several Corporates thus promoting collaboration between actors in the same value chain. This session was followed by a second round of ‘Deep-dive’ meetings where attendees could schedule 30 mins long meetings to meet companies that they hadn’t met yet or continue talking with those of interest previously met during ‘Business matches’.

After further networking in the evening during SOCIAL.MATCH, on the second day of the event, there were more opportunities to meet potential new partners during BIG:MATCH: MATCHER’s brokerage event. In this case Corporate and Startups could meet other companies, universities, clusters and research centres from the Emilia-Romagna region and beyond. This moment, together with FINAL.MATCH the program’s final conference, allowed others to meet MATCHER’s participants and expanded the reach of the program’s impact. 42% of the Startup and Corporates stated that what made MATCHER so successful was precisely its format focused on giving attendees varied networking opportunities and thus putting people at its core.

Key figures:
153 attendees from 12 different countries
258 Face to face meetings between Corporates and Startups
24,4% of meetings rated very or extremely interesting with high potential for future collaboration by the Corporates.
142 attendees from 12 different countries
200 + one-to-one meetings
108 organisations involved
219 attendees

Phase 4 Follow up (November 2019 and onwards)

During the relatively short time frame of the program, different kinds of collaborations were kick started. First of all amongst the Corporates taking part in the three working groups, 25% of whom stated that thanks to MATCHER they are now more likely to collaborate with another corporate in the future.

Secondly, the collaborations between Corporates and Startups following the meetings organised during the International Open Innovation event. Out of 258 meetings 20 % were deemed very interesting and with high chance of starting a collaboration,and 4% were indicated as extremely interesting meeting with already set plans for collaboration.

Given these results, ART-ER, as Simpler Consortium’s member and Enterprise Europe Network contact point, has decided to put forward a proposal to include the open innovation methodology developed with MATCHER in the Enterprise Europe Network list of partnering activities. In fact, the first edition has proved that the methodology used is applicable to other relevant sectors as well as scalable to wider groups of businesses. It also became relevant given the level of interest from startups abroad and the buy in by different actors in the local ecosystem. In average 95% of Startups and Corporates involved in the program stated that they would recommend MATCHER to another Startup or Corporate showing that there is room to apply the methodology to other sectors and take this bold program even further.

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