LogiLaunch: matchmaking as a springboard to further co-creation
On 16 May the matchmaking event LogiLAUNCH © was hosted for the first time in Limburg. The innovation cluster for logistics VIL, Log!Ville and the Limburg Provincial Development Agency POM Limburg matched 20 start-ups with 20 mature companies in speed dating sessions at Thor Park in Genk. This event was the first of a series of sessions by Log!Ville and POM Limburg aiming to further encourage co-creation.
VIL started LogiLAUNCH five years ago with the intention of improving the visibility of logistics start-ups. "There is a lot of innovation and creative talent present in Flanders," says Liesbeth Geysels, managing director of VIL. "And the logistics industry is no different, with many driven entrepreneurs creating start-ups. In order to grow, they need not only professional support but also visibility and a lot of contacts. While hackathons, workshops, start-up villages, start-up forums and other tools allow these companies to have a face, these are still not enough. In our view, these entrepreneurs must be given the opportunity to present their concepts and business models to logistics providers, shippers and retailers."
"In a LogiLAUNCH event we bring together 20 start-ups and 20 mature companies," Liesbeth explains. "The start-ups first introduce themselves in a brief elevator pitch, after which matchmaking with the companies ensues, with speed dating allowing the companies to learn about each start-up. Last year we introduced a further step in the concept: VIL-subsidiary Log!Ville and POM Limburg provide guidance in the process of co-creation and concrete partnerships. The mature companies can also set a challenge for the start-ups in which they use an RFP (request for proposals) to find a solution to a specific issue the former are faced with."
After Log!Ville opened its doors in October 2021 LogiLAUNCH moved to the innovation and demonstration centre in Niel. VIL also joined forces with POM Limburg, the provincial development agency, to host the matchmaking event twice a year, with the autumn event to be held at Log!Ville in Niel and the other session at the Thor campus in Genk.
Detecting and realising opportunities
"VIL does the matchmaking while Log!Ville and POM Limburg take care of the follow-up. Can the encounter between a startup and the company result in a partnership, developing a concept or a co-creation process? We assist them in detecting and grabbing the opportunities", says Patrick Aertsen, managing director of Log!Ville.
"The 'scope' is also a bit broader now, in the sense that the startups (and sometimes the scale-ups) can not only cooperate with logistics companies but also with technology providers. This way, those companies can discover possible solutions with an added value, but also possible investment opportunities. Log!Ville also gives the startups the chance to increase their visibility outside of LogiLAUNCH through our Start2Scale-up Avenue," he adds.
The Limburg ecosystem
It is no accident that POM Limburg decided to step in. The province is betting heavily on start-ups. through its seven thematic and industry-oriented incubators – including IT, drones, cleantech and biotech. There are around 300 companies working in one of these incubators and another 300 active outside them. "In the last three years we have also been encouraging start-ups in the logistics industry, with over 200 present in the province," says Noël Slangen, CEO of POM Limburg. "We will be setting up an incubator for them on the former Ford site in Genk, called SmartPort Limburg, scheduled to open in 2024."
"In reality, it will actually be an inhubator, because the campus will act as a hub," Noël adds. "It will be a co-working facility where both start-ups and companies from Limburg and further afield, including foreign companies, can work together, share knowledge and network. Knowledge institutes, which frequently work on solutions for the far future, also fit into an ecosystem of this nature. Indeed, start-ups can be able to translate them into solutions for the near future."
Learning from each other
"Past experience with our incubators has shown us that getting start-ups and mature companies together can be rather a challenge, which is why we see such potential in an event such as LogiLAUNCH," the CEO says. "Starting and established businesses have a great deal to learn from each other. Even when they don't 'match', the introduction can still serve as a source of inspiration and the resultant networks can prove to be extraordinarily valuable."
"And so we will be holding a repeat of LogiLAUNCH in the autumn of 2023. We may even expand it. To us, LogiLAUNCH is the first step to something even broader. Why stop at matchmaking between start-ups and companies when we could also matchmake between mature companies themselves? Our aim is to create an ecosystem that allows growth to be scalable and encourages co-creation. By creating connections and networks, we are able to provide impetus to both innovative strength and the willingness to innovate," Noël concludes.