“COMPANIES SUDDENLY FOUND THEMSELVES IN A SITUATION WHERE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION HAS BECOME NECESSARY AND URGENT”

Bruno Rondani, founder and CEO of 100 Open Startups.

As soon as social isolation began, many companies had to turn to their partner networks in search of solutions to challenges, such as remote work, delivery, education and distance service, among many others.

They found themselves, suddenly, in a situation in which digital transformation became necessary and urgent.

In this scenario, the importance of managing innovation ecosystems became evident, as sectors with a more developed ecosystem were able to respond quickly to the demands generated by the crisis.

This concept of managing innovation ecosystems is relatively new and has been seen as a natural evolution of open innovation. That is, if open innovation is when the company seeks, externally, solutions to its innovation challenges (usually in startups or researchers), the innovation ecosystem management goes further, placing external actors as an essential part of the company’s capacity to innovate.

In this new concept, an interdependence relationship is established, which requires management with its own tools and methodologies, as well as other fundamental company processes.

The own 100 Open Startups born of open innovation and tradition has become a startup ecosystem management platform for corporations, enabling and facilitating the management of startup ecosystems and therefore innovation startups to large companies.

We have, over the years, worked with a methodology and platform for launching specific challenges — demanded by large companies and to which the program’s startups can join to be evaluated and selected for an eventual business relationship — and with greater challenges , more comprehensive and sectorized, called Grand Challenges.

This challenge system is based on a well-established and mature process of mapping, evaluating, curating and matchmaking startups for large companies.

In view of the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, we see a convergence in the demands for innovation made by companies. Thus, we decided to open our platform for free for a few weeks, so that companies, governments and civil society could launch their challenges based on needs arising from the crisis.

As these challenges pervaded different sectors and cuts treated in the Grand Challenges, we call this action as Covid-19 Super Challenge | Coronavirus .

In three weeks of open challenge, 120 entities had their demands cured and approved. The 100 Open Startups team was tasked with interpreting these demands and grouping those that were similar. As a result, the challenges of these entities were grouped into 12 topics of interest, for which more than 900 startups declared they had solutions. Among the topics were demands for home office, mobility, health and treatments, culture and entertainment, retail, commerce and logistics, education and information and support for communities.

From the startups’ candidacy, the proposing entities evaluate those interested in their theme and formalize, through the platform, the desire to establish a connection with the startup, called a match. As a result, we had 14 entities with an interest in a startup and 91 startups that attracted some entity.

This proportion reinforces the Law 100–10–1 for startups, according to which, of every 100 startups, 10 reach success in the market and one has extraordinary performance. In the case of the Covid-19 Super Challenge | Coronavirus, the first three weeks generated a convergence for about 10% of startups that found interested entities, while just over 10% of the entities found some solution of interest.

Another observation is that the entities responsible for 80% of the matches are companies that already have a competence in working in networks or with open innovation. That is, entities that have already had experience with open innovation programs and / or formal relationships with the startup ecosystem, such as ArcelorMittal , BASF , Merck , Procter & Gamble and Raízen , for example.

On the side of startups, all 90 that aroused the interest of the entities have had an open innovation relationship with some corporation previously.

The organizations responsible for 80% of the matches are companies that already have a competence to work in networks or with open innovation.

We also had cases of companies that joined the challenge not only with their demands, but also with offers to support startups, with the objective of preventing the weakening of the ecosystem, demonstrating that they understand the importance of this ecosystem and know that, eventually, they will demand it in their innovation processes. This is the case with companies such as Bayer , Andrade Gutierrez , Tegma , Accenture , BRF , Locaweb , Solvay and Edenred .

Today, four weeks after the launch of the Super Challenge, we can clearly see that it was a true experiment in this new management concept and a test of the maturity of innovation ecosystems.

As an example, the four themes that attracted more startups and generated more matches are related to areas with their most mature innovation ecosystem: home office and distance work; health and treatments; retail, trade and logistics; and education, information and awareness. This reinforces the importance of the work of managing the innovation ecosystem that I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Read also: Bruno Rondani has a challenge — changing the way we do business and innovate in the country

Another interesting learning was to analyze the 12 main themes that converged on the demand of these 120 entities, which are a reflection of what the proponents understand that the ecosystem can offer, in the same way that the adhesion of more or less startups interested in the challenges shows if this perception has been confirmed.

At the same time, we observed that we did not have companies demanding extraordinary solutions, out of context in relation to the level of maturity and characteristics of the startups in our ecosystem.

Thus, we concluded that, in addition to the clear and obvious benefit of contributing to facing the crisis caused by the pandemic, our experience with the Covid-19 Super Challenge | Coronavirus was also important to understand patterns, metrics of density and effectiveness of the ecosystem

And the conclusion reached is that we have enough density in our startup ecosystem to meet the main innovation demands that the entities seek.

Bruno Rondani is the CEO and founder of the 100 Open Startups movement.