August and September were exciting months for Pioneers Discover. As the Northern Hemisphere summer began to draw to a close, our consultancy arm pressed its all-new Bootcamp concept into action for Airbus.
The Airbus BizLab Bootcamps was specially designed to help the French aerospace giant to efficiently select the best startups for the fourth season of its BizLab accelerator program. Over an intense few days between August 29th and September 11th, we ran four two-day Bootcamps, all running content and workshops specially developed for Airbus, which took place in Toulouse, Hamburg, Madrid and Bangalore.
From each of these, up to seven startups have emerged that will now take part in the next BizLab program, which will start on October 8th and culminate in a Global Demo Day in April. They’ll stand the chance of €50,000 in equity-free funding, as well as long-term collaboration possibilities with Airbus.
“The concept of Bootcamps as a selection workshop for acceleration program proved to be a win-win for both the startups and Airbus,” reflected Natalia Gricovkanics, Senior Innovation Consultant at Pioneers Discover and Project Lead for the Airbus BizLab Bootcamps. “Having validated it over three weeks in four different countries, we’re now certain that it’s something worth doing before any kind of open innovation program.”
One of the reasons it worked so well was senior management participation, exemplified by Airbus Chief Technical Officer Grazia Vittadini sitting on the jury in Toulouse.
“It’s a great way to involve top management and employees in a program before it even begins. When top management get to vote on the Bootcamp winners, they’re already committed. That’s really significant for the efficiency of the accelerator itself, because the startups need to worry much less about convincing internal stakeholders during the program. Ideally, they can get going straight away! When you’ve had a Bootcamp like this, you’ve validated the worth of the startup solutions and a large part of your company has already participated in the process.”
Indeed, the program’s success wasn’t just down to the contributions of senior decision-makers. The participation of large group of experts (briefed by Pioneers Discover) from across the company also played a key role in guiding the startups to find their sweet spot: use cases that were genuinely appealing to Airbus.
“64 experts and 11 coaches participated across the four Bootcamps, with a total of 198 meetings between them and the startups,” added Gricovkanics. “The startups and experts could use the matchmaking wall to choose who they wanted to speak to, and that worked really well. The value of these exchanges and the role they played in the final solutions presented can’t be understated.”
While the Airbus BizLab campuses in Bangalore, Hamburg and Toulouse (the original) were already established and known in their startup communities thanks to earlier editions of BizLab, the Bootcamp in Madrid represented the start of the first program for BizLab’s new Spanish location. With startup scouting also falling under the Pioneers Discover remit, it was a new challenge in terms of outreach.
“Madrid worked really well,” said Gricovkanics. “The local startup ecosystem was really good and the startups created a special energy there. The experts were really engaged there too, and excited about contributing to the first season in Madrid.”
Meanwhile India was also an exciting new region for Pioneers Discover to explore.
“There was certainly no shortage of startup use cases – at this Bootcamp the biggest challenge was to narrow down the startups’ five or ten ideas to the use case that was most promising. But our program is structured to achieve exactly that.”
Application numbers swelled significantly for this edition of BizLab, with 495 total startup applications (from 64 countries) answering the global Open Call. In consultation with Pioneers Discover Airbus distilled these to a selection of 14-18 startups for each city. Primarily from the field of AI & Data Analytics, these would shoot for BizLab selection at each Bootcamp.
With Pioneers Discover having an overview of the entire program, the selected startups across all four campuses could be kept highly complementary in terms of their use cases and technologies. Collaboration possibilities are already emerging between some of the Bangalore and Madrid participants.
Bruno Gutierres, the Head of BizLab, was also pleased with the results: "Thank you to the BizLab and Pioneers teams for their contribution to this year’s recruitment process. We are looking forward to welcoming the diverse cohort of innovators that will join us in Toulouse, Hamburg, Bangalore and Madrid!"