When looking back on another year in the life of Pioneers, Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna is always the fitting place to start. Our flagship event, Pioneers’18, went ahead at the much-loved historic landmark at the end of May. It’s made its home there since 2012 and once again provided suitable inspiration for over 2,500 tech innovators, 550 startups and a host of top international speakers.
Certainly SzeleSTIM will never forget their time at the Hofburg, as they won the Pioneers Challenge Award and thus became the latest of our startup winners. The Austrian chronic pain treatment innovators earned themselves a networking trip to Silicon Valley, a pitching slot at Techsauce Global Summit in Thailand and a place on our ever-growing roll of honour.
It was a busy week in Vienna, with GovTech.Pioneers taking place at Palais Wertheim on the day before Pioneers’18. We ran Europe’s first full-day Govtech innovation event following the great response we’d had to the Govtech session we’d integrated into the Pioneers’17 program a year earlier. And the expanded event was a runaway success, particularly for winning startup Fleksy! We’ll repeat GovTech.Pioneers in 2019, but at the beginning of April, roughly five weeks ahead of Pioneers’19. And this time it’ll take place at a venue with similar stature to the Hofburg: Vienna’s famed City Hall.
The first of our innovation events for 2018 actually place in February, with a second edition of Mobility.Pioneers staged once again in Munich, a city where we also opened a new base during the course of the year. Autonomous driving motion software startup embotech grabbed the startup spoils in the pitching event, while Slovakian developer group FinID were named winners of the concurrent Mobility Hackathon.
Health.Pioneers also went ahead for the second time, although in 2018 we switched the venue from Amsterdam to Vienna. Startup victory at the BioCenter went to deep vein thrombosis detection company ThinkSono.
Following a popular evening with Steve Blank at our first Pioneers Community Event in 2017, we welcomed two guests for this year’s edition at the end of November. Joining us in Vienna were 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler and The Family Co-Founder Nicolas Colin. They starred in a panel discussion on inclusive leadership, which led into a vibrant evening of networking.
Our acclaimed Match & Meet system went from strength to strength at all of these events, powering the connections we love to see spark between startups, corporates and investors.
Staying with digital matters, 2018 also saw us take our online dealflow management service, Piobay, to the next level. Having revamped the User Experience for all, we ran 55 innovation projects through the platform, which is more than ever before.
Some of the improvements we made to Piobay included functionalities that brought added value to our users, such as a better interface, simpler forms, improved data visualisation and taxonomy along with GPDR compliance. We also introduced completely customizable rating criteria as well as automated ratings that use machine learning algorithms.
Also based on Piobay is the new digital solution we’ve added to our portfolio, which sets out to dramatically improve the experience of startups, juries and audiences during pitching sessions and competitions. Stay tuned for more information!
Over in Pioneers Discover, our consultancy arm, it’s been the busiest year yet as corporate clients continue to knock away at our door for help with their innovation strategies.
Pioneers Discover has answered their calls in a variety of ways in 2018, from scouting startups for their accelerators to taking complete charge of organizing hackathons, Bootcamps or Innovation Days.
We were proud to have scouted two of the three winning startups for the BBVA Open Talent program, the latest edition of the world’s biggest Fintech competition, which wrapped up in October. Having provided only 166 of the approximately 900 original applicants, we rather liked our strike rate!
Also in Fintech innovation, we returned for a second year of scouting for Raiffeisen Bank International’s Elevator Lab program. That followed one of the startups we brought to the first edition, kompany, signing a commercial partnership with the European banking giant.
Pioneers Discover also worked in a number of other fields. It once again partnered with Booking.com in managing an innovation program on sustainable tourism, this time for the Dutch company’s Booster Lab in Tel Aviv in March. In the related area of aviation, we also designed a global series of Bootcamps that would deliver startups for the fourth season of Airbus BizLab. These ran in Madrid, Toulouse, Bangalore and Hamburg.
During the second half of the year our ‘Discover team’ also spent plenty of time immersed in the energy sector, with our endlessly energized consultants organizing both the ground-breaking Energy Blockchain Hack in Switzerland and partnering with Wien Energie on its Innovation Challenge.
Highlights on the industrial side included the second and third editions of our own Industry 4.0 Hackathon in Linz, as well as the Greiner Ideation Hackathon. The latter yielded some terrific learnings in the field of printed electronics.
The year 2018 also saw a new chapter begin for Pioneers as a whole, after we joined the startup300 family in May. And the next step in that journey is a move to new premises from January 2019! While our headquarters remain in Vienna, we’ll be moving closer to the innovation ecosystem by basing ourselves at the newly-opened Talent Garden Vienna campus.
To be part of our story in 2019, check out our planned events here.