At PwC in CEE, November and December were a time of intense recruitment to the 3rd edition of Startup Collider. Already in mid-January, we could proudly say that we are overwhelmed with the number of startups that applied for this year’s edition and their impressive solutions and products.
In approximately 11 weeks, we received almost 200 unique applications. The vast majority were startups from CEE, a handful from Western Europe and even the US, one came from Asia. More than half of the startups that had sent us their applications qualified for further analysis by our experts, all of these incredibly interesting products, solutions and services.
“We see huge demand for innovation – there can be no question about that. This is our 3rd edition. Each year, we analyze the rapidly changing expectations of our clients in CEE and worldwide, their business strategies, as well as these of startup founders. We go out to the market serving as a partner for both sides. We welcome change and, therefore, we adapt the PwC Startup Colliders formula to market reality and do our best to maximize the potential for business success built on relationships between startups and corporates” says Jolanta Kokosińska, Partner at PwC and the person in charge of innovation and R&D at PwC Poland who overlooks the Startup Collider program.
Were there any surprises?
“First of all, we were surprised to receive so many applications, but this is great news for us of course. It means that startups recognize the value of our program and what they can gain from cooperating with us. We were also surprised to see how much the startup community has grown over the last 12 months. Their progress is amazing and we couldn’t be happier about it. Lastly, we were surprised to see how many different sectors of the economy the applications covered – way more than we expected.” ads Jolanta Kokosińska.
The startup ecosystem is indeed growing (and growing up) quickly. Every year, the startups’ solutions become more mature and advanced. They remain visionary and disruptive, raising strong interest of top market players seeking new ideas on growing their business. According to the incoming 2019 PwC European Start-up Survey already today, nearly half of the interviewed startup founders co-operate with established business partners.
A sense of idealism and a hope for a brighter future are there too when looking at the innovation coming from this year’s cohort of the Startup Collider scale-up program. Almost 100 startups were chosen for careful and thorough analyses by PwC experts. Every solution is now being broken down to its prime components by three experts for a broader perspective on the potential for scalability.
“What we’re doing is rather difficult, because we are increasingly often dealing with already experienced startup founders who were able to establish their position on their respective local markets. There are no bad ideas within the group we’re evaluating. Unfortunately, we cannot accept all of them to our program,” explains Jolanta Kokosińska. “Of course, potential for growth and applicability are essential, but it’s not always enough. The technologies developed by the startups that will begin their scaling adventure with us must correspond with the market’s technological needs, among them, those of our clients and partners. Otherwise, at the end of the day, we would have to tell our new friends that they’re on their own and we have nothing to offer. This is not us. We never do that.”
Acquisition & sales is still perceived by startup founders as the biggest challenge for the future development of their companies. At PwC, through our worldwide network, we provide startups with access to thousands of companies based in CEE and beyond. Moreover, thanks to our internal startup exchange program, we cooperate closely with other PwC startup-oriented initiatives run, for example in the UK or Germany. This gives startups from the region the potential to grow elsewhere, the possibility to be introduced and recognized on markets outside the CEE. The mission of PwC Startup Collider is to be the link between corporations and disruption, between large enterprises and innovation, between multinationals and inventors. We approach startups the same way we treat our corporate partners – we treat them as equals. This approach is fundamental and judging from the growing recognition of our program in CEE and beyond, we see that it pays off.
The market most often focuses on the question why startups should cooperate with corporations and participate in various programs. But bigger players benefit from cooperation with startups too. Startups offer them a fresh look on a number of issues which in return allows for streamlining of processes or improvement of quality of services.
“Every year, we review hundreds of applications of startups from the CEE region that would like to accelerate and scale up with us. These are bright, driven, young people who believe they can tweak reality and build a better future. As a veteran of the innovation ecosystem and a witness to tremendous technological advances, I can only say that it’s fantastic to live in this brave new world,” says Jolanta and adds “This will be a terrific edition of PwC Startup Collider. I have no doubt it will. CEE is an innovation powerhouse.”
Partner at PwC and the person in charge of innovation and R&D at PwC Poland who overlooks the Startup Collider program