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Insight calls are available to join for all members of the SEIC and will be addressing a number of topics

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The 11 modules of the SEI methodology focus on the key processes that enable the successful rollout of SEI

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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60 seconds in the start-up spotlight

Innovative technologies were on display last week as a group of start-ups pitched to Philips, but what role should procurement play in their assessment?

Start up pitches

Last Tuesday morning in Eindhoven, I sat at the back of an auditorium in the High-Tech Campus, Eindhoven, and watched start-up after start-up take to the stage to deliver a pitch to an audience broadly made up of Philips executives, but also members of the Supplier-Enabled Innovation Center (SEIC).

 

Each pitch lasted a minute. Just 60 seconds to get across the value of a technology or an innovation, as well as its current commercials, business model and potential market impact. If those 60 seconds flew past for me, I can only imagine how quickly they went for those on stage.

 

The pitches were part of the HighTechXL Impact Summit, itself an incubator program that provides a variety of services to help accelerate the progress of start-ups by, among other things, linking them with relevant corporate partners.

 

Members of the SEIC, who were in Eindhoven for our latest Accelerator Program, hosted by Philips, listened to about 30 driven individuals. They were from all over the world, and they shared how they had developed AI-supported technologies for breast-cancer screening, asthma inhalers that use big data to improve efficacy and new medical lasers that scan arteries more completely, among others.

 

Presenting over the course of the day, were a combination of med-tech, fin-tech and hi-tech start-ups, each with unique intellectual property, bounds of enthusiasm, focused expertise and a deliberate need for support.

 

The experience was eye-opening for several reasons, not least because, while it might be obvious that there are a huge number of start-ups out there, it’s perhaps less obvious just how much of an impact they are having or in what fields they play (there’s only so many social-media platforms the world needs, after all).

 

But the technology and innovation potential I saw in just a single hour of pitches was, quite frankly, staggering.

 

However, my main thought revolved around what procurement’s role in this world should be. And in my mind, while it’s clear that the pitches themselves were aimed squarely at a technical audience, procurement should be involved for at least two reasons.

 

First, is pure logic. If start-ups are going to be assessed in terms of their potential in technology or innovation, it makes sense to assess them in terms of how that technology might be integrated; whether, for example, they are scaled to become a supplier, acquired, licenced, incubated, whatever. Essentially, commercial skills that procurement holds in abundance.

 

Second, through Supplier-Enabled Innovation, we are facilitating collaboration between our companies and suppliers at an entirely different level. SEI is about actively linking business colleagues with relevant parties in the supply base based on business need, supplier capability, collaboration opportunity and so on. There’s no reason why these skills and approaches shouldn’t be extended to non-suppliers, including start-ups and, even, universities.

 

In effect, we become scouts and business developers, looking for relevant, meaningful and valuable business models between our organizations, our suppliers and any other third party which can bring value to the table. It might not fit on a business card, but it would be a pretty cool way to add value to our companies.

 

Of course, the bigger question is, how? This event was one of countless events taking place all over the world, at any given time; HighTechXL is just one of hundreds of incubator programs. The startups I saw, among tens, if not hundreds of thousands of similar small companies staffed with similarly smart people doing similarly great things.

 

But how we ensure our companies find the right ones, at the right time is something that should be keeping all of us awake at night.

 

David Rae

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