You’re a fledgling company with a brilliant innovation that better fits an overseas market. You don’t have the resources or contacts to get started in that country so what do you do? Innovate UK developed Entrepreneur Missions to help early-stage businesses secure overseas sales and investment earlier than they would on their own. Entrepreneur Missions take 15-20 of the UK’s best new, innovative, high-growth potential companies to overseas markets to help them grow faster. Our missions achieve this by helping the SMEs to:
- Build a Network with potential customers, partners and investors
- Improve their Profile through great PR coverage
- Refine their Pitch to potential investors and to suit the target market
- Develop an Insight into what it takes to do business in the target market
- Raise their Ambition and accelerate their plans
This support and experience is hard for young companies to come across and the power of a collective Mission comes in opening doors that would be closed to an SME working alone. Entrepreneur Missions are funded by Innovate UK in partnership with UK Trade and Investment; the attraction of a competitively selected group backed by government and private sponsors helps Missions to engage vital partners in the overseas market.
From Brazil to Bangalore
Entrepreneur Missions have been run in cleantech (Clean and Cool Missions, five to date to San Francisco, Brazil and Colorado); Future Health (stratified and regenerative medicine, diagnostic medicine, assisted living technologies and other medical advances, to San Francisco and Boston); Web (start-ups in the Digital Economy to Bangalore, India); Robotics and Autonomous Systems (to San Diego and San Francisco) and a Space mission (satellite applications start-ups) has just returned from Utah, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We also have a Future Cities Mission in the planning.
4, 64, £600m
Alumni tell us our Missions help them grow their business faster, increase their ambition and provide the links to key partners, customers and investors. Mission companies have gone on to secure significant deals as a result of the connections made and the support they received. For example, the four Clean and Cool Missions run between 2010 and 2014 saw the 64 alumni of these raise between them over £600m post-Mission by the end of 2014. Of this total only ~7% is public funding (but half the number of deals) demonstrating excellent ‘crowding in’ of private investment. Although all of this growth can’t be directly attributed to their attendance on the Mission, alumni tell us fantastic stories of how the Mission helped them grow faster and were still reaping the benefits for many years after.
How can Missions help?
BuffaloGrid CEO Daniel Becerra described his own mission story as one of “organised serendipity”. The attention received from the Mission publicity about their solar powered phone charging units attracted media attention from the likes of the Financial Times, New Scientist and The Economist. A feature article in New Scientist led to an invitation for Daniel to present his project at a gathering of the United Nations. There he happened to present alongside Google, with whom continued conversation resulted in working on the internet capabilities of BuffaloGrid’s units. Even though these units were still in prototype batches, the momentum building behind the company led to in an inclusion in The Nominet Trust 100, which celebrates the people and organisations who are using digital technology to change the world for the better. They also won winning Virgin’s Three New Things competition with personal advice and network help from Sir Richard Branson. BuffaloGrid’s units underwent initial deployments in India in December 2014, with the President of India personally launching the programme.
Elemental Digest Systems Director Joe Priday was attracted to Brazil because of its vast meat production industry, but he did not anticipate that one year after returning he would be looking to open a plant in the heart of the world’s largest beef exporting country. With existing partnerships with two of the biggest abattoirs in the UK and Ireland, the company has secured over £50 million worth of forward contracts and is on the verge of expanding internationally. “All of our business in Brazil is a result of the initial Clean and Cool introductions” said Joe. Having realised the demand for their innovation, Elemental Digest Systems are “staving off the Venture Capitalists and going straight for sovereign wealth”.