The NanoNextNL Valorisation Programme being part of the larger NanoNextNL Research Programme, ran for three years and was reviewed and assessed positively by the Technopolis Group. The innovative aspects cited in the report Evaluation Valorisation Programme NanoNextNL are:
- tooling to develop and assess business cases
- the stage-gate approach
- the coaching and training ecosystem
- the explicit evaluation of safety and society aspects
- the fact that it is developed and executed by a public-private consortium itself.
Main strengths and successes
The evaluation cited the main strengths and successes of the NanoNextNL Valorisation Programme as being: the link with the research programme, the type of funding, the support received, the limited administrative burden, the programme’s entrepreneurial focus, the assessment process and the accessibility of the programme (due to the stage-gate approach). Furthermore, the programme helped to strengthen business cases, even before awarding a subsidy, which improved the quality of awarded business cases.
Recommendations for future valorisation programmes
This evaluation study of the Valorisation Programme of NanoNextNL is intended to look back to the past and ahead to the future, to learn from the programme and to identify lessons for future valorisation programmes. These recommendations for future valorisation programmes, based on the successful approach en lessons learned, may be of interest to policymakers that active in the field of science and innovation:
- Focus valorisation programmes on the phase of participants, such as their TRL (Technology Readiness Level), and the type of participants.
- Either limit the number of potential applicants or increase the available budget to counter low selectivity and low success rates.
- Embed valorisation programmes in the (national) innovation landscape.
- Better embedment could result in an uptake in other programmes or by investors at the end of the valorisation programme and could improve successful valorisation in the landscape as whole.
- Make (business) coaching and training an integral part of valorisation programmes.
- Results from the SME Instrument have shown that Instrument coaching combined with a grant has a positive effect on the results of SMEs.
Developing business cases
The Valorisation Programme was intended to ‘identify, nurture and develop product and business ideas emerging from the science and technology in NanoNextNL’. The programme consisted of several stages in which participants received funding to further develop their business case with the help of business tools and coaching. Participants who developed a strong, potentially successful business case were awarded funding to further develop their business. In four calls, over 3.1 million euros of funding was allocated to the programme’s participants, of which almost 2.8 million euros was direct subsidy.
Success rate of 65%
The programme generated 44 business cases using the Lean Business Model Canvas of which 28 were awarded a subsidy in the final stage. The average success rate of the programme’s calls was 65%. The programme resulted in many elaborated business plans; in new products, new IP, new clients and diversification of existing business activities; and in some start-ups, new services, financing from external investors and successful participation in other valorisation or incubation programmes. On average business cases increased by 2 TRLs and their potential value increased by 59 million euros. Participants were able to acquire a total 4.4 million euros in new funding.
Supporting participants to commercialise knowledge successfully
Participants in the programme were positive about many aspects. The level and quality of support were assessed best. The majority indicated that the programme has helped them successfully commercialise the knowledge developed within NanoNextNL. The phased approach was valued, as well as the received assistance and funding.
The programme was compared to two other valorisation programmes: the Dutch Take-Off and the European SME Instrument. Given that the selection procedure was sufficient, the overall success rate was significantly higher. In the light of this outcome the NanoNextNL Valorisation Programme was operated more efficiently considering the relatively smaller support budget. Also internal coaching was viewed as being less rigid.