The Open Innovation programs The Journey and Protechting achieved major pilot results – involving 23 startups from 15 countries, in three continents – to develop new solutions on Tourism, Fintech, Insurtech and Healthtech businesses
The crucial moment for establishing collaborative processes between corporates and startups, within Open Innovation programs, is unquestionably the Bootcamp. Under the method implemented by Beta-i over the years (and it’s been a decade!), Bootcamps are the turning point of every program, as the people behind the needs of organizations and the solutions brought by startups meet one on one, to develop something new – and collectively get achievable results.
The latest Beta-i Bootcamps on Tourism (The Journey) and the Fintech, Healthtech and Insurtech triad (Protechting) are a robust example of this process, with 29 pilots going to be considered and developed from 23 startups of 15 countries to impact both B2B and B2C fronts.
The Journey: innovation in Tourism
This Open Innovation program deals with one of the most interconnected industries of the contemporary era: Tourism, a gigantic cluster that generates economic, social and even identity consequences for the destinations visited. Goes without saying that the Tourism sector has been booming in Portugal for years in a row, and that’s why this Open Innovation program has been connecting key players in the Portuguese market with innovators from all over the world. “The Tourism Industry is one of the most competitive ones, and we must build everyday solutions and new services to our customers while envisioning the future,” explains Sergio Guerreiro, Senior Director Knowledge Management & Innovation from Turismo de Portugal, one of the organizations investing in the program alongside Barraqueiro Group, Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua and Vila Galé Hotels (in addition to Unicre, a key payment solutions provider in the country that participates as a Data Partner).
Every innovator deserves a break: The Journey participants on a hop-on hop-off bus and boat
In its 4th edition, the program investigated and selected startups able to tackle Hospitality, Parks & Monuments and Tours & Activities pain points shared by our clients, then linked to themes such as Smart Connected Operations, Seamless Traveler Journey, Customer Experience and Sustainable Development Solutions. These scouting challenges emerge a result of the needs assessments carried out by Beta-i’s expert team alongside the participant corporates teams, so the process can converge to common goals from the very beginning – and so can be explored in the Bootcamp.
The result of this concerted effort generated in the end of October the excellent result of 17 pilots, from 11 startups of 6 countries in Europe and Asia. “This number is a result of the program’s direct response to these tourism operators challenges,” says Gonçalo Faria, Open Innovation Program Director at Beta-i, who also highlights “some very interesting solutions on water and energy efficiency, aiming for a more sustainable tourism”. The results of this collaboration will be known at the end of January 2020, when The Journey comes to an end with one of the key events for tourism innovation businesses in Portugal: the Lisbon Tourism Summit 2020, focused on sustainability and organized by Beta-i, which counts with The Journey’s Demo Day on its programming: in other words, the moment when the results of these collaboratively developed pilots are presented to the stakeholders.
Protechting: tackling multiple industry challenges and geographies
Bootcamps are a special moment because, as Beta-i Senior Growth Strategist Tomás Bento recalls, “startups come in very ambitious for the program, but sometimes lack the experience to make the best win-win connections with corporates. And we believe that our contribution is fundamental to trim every potential down to the very essentials, and help them set up a bolder pitch”. And that’s exactly what happened at the Protechting bootcamp, which ended on November 21st in Lisbon, where 12 pilots were selected out of 21 different startups from 12 countries in three continents. As Beta-i’s Program Director Francisco Carvalho adds, “thanks to this collaboration, some startups were able to fully adapt their technologies, turning their initial proposals into much more fit and desirable solutions for the participant corporates”.
Shiny happy people: corporates, startups and Beta-i celebrating the closing of Protechting Bootcamp
Protechting is defiant by definition as it brings together different industries under the leadership of the same shareholder, the Chinese group Fosun – the name behind companies such as Fidelidade (Insurtech track), Luz Saúde Learning Health (Healthtech track) and the German bank Hauck & Aufhäuser (Fintech track). The process was tailored to this consortium, which in addition to different industries also operates in different geographies and has a particular involvement with China. To solve that, two groups of startups were selected: one for pilots development, and another (with more primary business models, coming from other 5 countries) for a parallel mentoring and acceleration path. “We truly believe in Open Innovation. The Protechting program gives us access to startups from around the world, and in order to accommodate both our strategic and geographic goals, we created these two groups. The pre-acceleration one is focused on bringing startups from markets where we are expanding right now, such as Mozambique and Peru” says José Villa de Freitas, Fidelidade’s marketing manager.
This strategic ambition facilitated by Protechting is reinforced by Harald Patt, CEO at Fosun Europe Innovation Hub and Managing Director of Fosun’s Wealth Department and Fintech Sector. Responsible for the Chinese group’s deal flow on startups, Patt sees the program as a concrete way to incorporate new solutions into the company portfolio. “In addition to the areas where we operate around the world, it is important to remember that we´re deeply rooted in China and we are able to generate great opportunities there.”
Bootcamps are particularly prized by Patt, since it’s the crucial moment where original ideas, created to solve people and organizations daily problem, leverage their approaches as business models. “It’s exciting. Startups with good ideas and bad pitches often turn out to present amazing solutions at the end of the pilot phase. Not to mention that this is the moment of truth, where they must prove a differentiated and scalable technology”. What was a surprise in the beginning – a global open innovation program set up all the way from Portugal – now is the new normal to him: “although central Europe is not always paying attention, the Portuguese ecosystem is very active and we are aware of this”.
Four years have now produced four editions of this open innovation program focused on Healthtech, Fintech and Insurtech.
And we have also met the four musketeers right in the front row – Fosun, Fidelidade, Hospital da Luz and Hauck & Aufhäuser (and powered by Beta-i, of course) – and how they can be the perfect partner for participant startups to pilot their solutions with.
But as Protechting is now taking applications for this years’ edition, it is also pertinent to let applicants know about one of the perks of Protechting – Piloting track: the roadshow to China.
Pack some clothes (and a pitch or two), you are going to Shanghai
If you are part of the top three startups to participate, this is where Protechting is taking you. We are talking about a global financial hub, 8th place ranked in the Top 30 Global Startup Ecosystems, as stated in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report launched this year. Food for thought, Shanghai is also part of the only three ecosystems that made it to the top 10 in both female entrepreneurship and global performance.
The experience is made to open some doors for the brave entrepreneurs by meeting Fosun and their associated companies as well as expanding the knowledge about the country’s market and culture. In fact, you might even take the chance to explore other opportunities all by yourself as you are already there.
This is what Visor.ai has done, as part of the top three of the second edition – you can read about their experience through their own words on A Startup Story From The Roadshow To China.
Protechting’s applications phase are currently open. This year, the program’s evaluators are adding a new criteria to the selection of the top candidates: solutions with a sustainable and socially impact will certainly catch their attention.
Last time I wrote about Protechting I mentioned that last year instead of one winner, there were three. Visor.ai was one of them, they won 10.000 euros and traveled to China and between all this they made business that lasts until today.
Gonçalo Consiglieri, Visor.ai Co-founder, said that unlike other programs he has participated in, Protechting is very focused on people, making it easier for startups to arrange meetings with the partners who are all very involved and willing to hear from them.
When Visor.ai entered the program their solution wasn’t quite ready yet, there were some changes to be made and the program ended up challenging them to develop their product according to a client’s real needs. All this in one week during the bootcamp and 2 or 3 months for the pilot.
The importance of a bootcamp was also underlined by Gonçalo. It is a fact that nowadays pretty much all programs have a bootcamp but if we go one or two years back that wasn’t the reality. The bootcamp helps both sides, the partners side and the startups side. It’s not only the partners who use the bootcamp as a barometer to see if there’s a fit with startups, the other way around also applies. Startups can also understand in the course of a week if their solution can be valuable to the partners, but more than that startups get to grow and adjust their product and for some of them that’s what’s most valuable.
It’s been a year since Visor.ai won Protechting’s last edition and now they have another project with Fidelidade besides the initial one. The one they’re focused right now is related with their website and how to better get leads. After one year, the three winner startups are also still friends with each other. Hard to say if it was the bootcamp or the China trip who bond them, or probably it was both, truth is it remains until now. And I mean they actually stay at each other’s places when they go to their countries and help each other on their solutions, so it’s not a fake friendship.
Asked if Protechting changed them and their business, Gonçalo says that they’ve definitely changed and thanks to the programme they’re now developing features they wouldn’t think about if it weren’t for Fidelidade. Actually now they only develop what their clients ask for and stopped wasting time developing stuff just because they thought it was cool.
Fidelidade and Fosun launched the third edition of the startup acceleration programme – Protechting -, which aims to support the development of international projects that contribute to improve the protection of people in three strategic areas – Healthtech, Insurtech and Fintech.
Just like the other two editions, this third one will also be developed with the support of Beta-I, also with recently reinforced valences, allowing it to contribute in an even more efficient way to the innovation ecosystem.
As a result of the first 2 editions of this Open Innovation incentive programme, 6 startups, from 4 different countries, still maintain cooperation with Fidelidade Group and with Luz Saúde, contributing to the creation and implementation of innovative solutions.
This third edition is devoted to the promotion of international entrepreneurship and will present some innovations. Luz Saúde will reinforce its participation in the programme, and the German private bank Hauck & Aufhäuser, owned by Fosun Group, will integrate this project for the first time, seeking to attract technological innovation for financial services through Fintech.
The main goal is still to find more consistent startups to the programme and in order to do that international scouting initiatives will happen during the application phase, with partner entities and at entrepreneurship events specifically dedicated to Insurtech and Fintech, in London, São Paulo and Silicon Valley. The programme will also be presented during Startup Europe Week, taking place in Brussels, between May the 5th and 9th. Showing how far this programme has come and how much it grew.
The excitement among partners is understandable, not only because there’s new companies participating but also because every year they are able to reach more countries. And that is one of the reasons why it’s increasingly positioning itself as an internationally renowned acceleration programme.
Last year three startups were selected on the Pitch day and later went to China to participate in Protechting | Innostar. The good thing about this is that initially only one startup was meant to be selected to go to China, but they liked all three so much they couldn’t choose. So, we never know what might happen this year.
The second edition of Protechting recently came to an end, with three winners selected for the Roadshow to China. We asked one of the founders of the three startups to report back to us on their experiences in China.
Gonçalo Consiglieri is one of the founders of Visor.ai: a chatbot and human messaging platform. Here is his story from the Roadshow to China with Fidelidade and Fosun.
We had the opportunity to participate in the roadshow to China organized by Fosun for the winners of Protechting. It was an amazing experience for several reasons.
We had the opportunity to meet the Fosun group and their associated companies. This was an amazing opportunity for us to get to know more about the company, their structure, and strategy. They can be a great partner for us in the future, both on the commercial side, and as a possible investor for our company.
This visit allowed us to meet the Chinese market and culture. It introduced us to the main challenges and opportunities, in case we decide to start operating in China.
We got to know more about services and trends leading the future of our sector in China. It was mesmerizing for us to realize the importance of WeChat in China and the multitude of utilities it has, not only as a Chat platform but also as a payment method. There are some possibilities and use cases that we can implement for clients in Europe, and it would also be a possibility to implement our system with this platform in the future.
During the visit, we also participated in an international pitch competition. It took place in the city of Ningbo and was transmitted on national TV. This was an amazing and exciting experience, where we had close contact with Chinese Startups and the ecosystem.
The experiences in China were great for us to enrich our relationship with Bdeo and Amiko, the other winners of Protechting, with whom we are exploring potential synergies. We are grateful to Rita Delgado from Fosun and José Maria Villa de Freitas from Fidelidade that joined us for this incredible experience and did a hell of a job, making us feel great and promoting our projects to the Fosun companies and partners that we met.
After this experience, we truly feel we are better, both as a startup and as people, due to all the experiences we had the opportunity to live and the people that we had the opportunity to meet.
A big thank you to Fosun and Fidelidade for all the opportunities that they gave us not only during this trip, but also since the first moment that we met in Protechting.