Transforming Great Ideas Into Start-Ups

New European-wide project to help researchers become innovators

January 17, 2018

It’s often difficult for researchers to turn their great ideas into successful commercial start-ups. A new European-wide initiative supported by IESE hopes to help change that.

Launched recently in Brussels with the assistance of a €1 million grant from the European Commission, STARTED will help create the new European Research-to-Startup Center. IESE’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC) is a partner in the project and coordinator of its Education and Training Committee through 2020.

“Young researchers are in the best position to be the innovators of tomorrow. However, turning lab stuff into a start-up product is a long shot,” said Sébastien Bratières, artificial intelligence director of Translated. “This project will teach researchers how to create companies,” said John Breslin, senior lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway.

From Ireland, Italy, Spain and Belgium, the project’s partners met at the European Young Innovators Forum’s offices in Brussels to discuss the implementation of their plan to tackle the challenges faced by researchers in Europe.

“A challenging issue for Europe is to foster entrepreneurship, especially among researchers,” said Roma Tre University’s Associate Professor Paolo Merialdo.

According Prof. Julia Prats, academic director of IESE’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, “One of the aims is to support the creation of companies built by researchers.”

Unlocking Research Innovation

Research innovations often remain locked within research organizations, never making their way into commercial start-ups or to new business units. So while many European regions have expanded their budgets for research and development, their generated discoveries are not yet improving the number of created start-ups and related jobs. For instance, all six regions selected in this initiative have high research and development levels, yet they also have low employment rates.

The STARTED project, framed within the Erasmus+ European program, will develop entrepreneurial skills in researchers and innovators, to foster interactions between stakeholders and to guide the transfer of innovative research projects to become robust start-up opportunities. The six partners from four countries will deliver an entrepreneurship skills development program.

The project will enable the setting up of a European Research-to-Startup Center supported by a shared web platform which will centralize ad hoc learning, tools and guidelines to foster future entrepreneurs. It will also share success stories and results obtained to emphasize the benefits of training different stakeholders and organizations (researchers, educators, staff and others).