Support to the generation and the development of start-ups and spin-offs

The iNEST project provides:

  • a decentralized, yet coordinated, management of the Pre-Acceleration phase, as a course of action entrusted to the individual Spokes to generate and select innovative ideas to be turned into research start-ups e spin-offs. Decentralized management allows to help the neo-entrepreneurs-to-be (students, PhDs, researchers, etc.), while the coordination allows reaching economics of replication, designing methodologies and technological platforms applicable to all Spokes, starting from the best cases of each university;
  • a centralized management of the Acceleration & Fundraising phases, as a course of action for the definition of the business model of the research start-ups and spin-offs and the management of the investment rounds, to get those to enter the market and consequently scale up. Centralized management of the phases, along which the new enterprises face the real market (clients and investors), allows reaching economics of scale, using methodologies and technological platforms already developed and tested.

For teams that successfully pass the Selection Day, iNEST offers an Acceleration program, a structured path to transform innovative ideas into sustainable business realities. Through a holistic vision of innovation that enhances the synergies between academic research and the business world, the iNEST Accelerator aims to stimulate the creation of new high-tech companies, generate skilled employment, and foster sustainable economic development in the Italian Northeast region. In this way, the iNEST Consortium will help spread an entrepreneurial mindset and strengthen the regional innovation ecosystem.

The ultimate goal of the Acceleration phase is to connect participants with investors and industries, offering meaningful networking opportunities and potential business collaborations. This will be possible during the Demo Day, an event where accelerated teams will have the opportunity to present their start-up to an audience of potential investors.

The details of the Acceleration program

The Acceleration program consists of a series of workshops and webinars that combine theory and practice on innovation and entrepreneurship. In this way, teams receive all the skills and tools they need to make their start-ups successful. At the heart of the program is the so-called lean start-up methodology, which allows teams to rapidly test and modify their solution and market assumptions. This is a particularly effective approach for technologies emerging from research, which need a clear and flexible path to commercial exploitation.

Another essential component is peer learning, or mutual learning among participants. By sharing experiences, challenges, and solutions with others, teams can accelerate the development of their start-ups. Aspiring entrepreneurs also receive support from coaches—professionals from affiliated universities and institutes—who will help them put into practice what they have learned in the various workshops by adapting it to the context of their start-up.

The iNEST accelerator stands out for its ability to integrate different areas of innovation, from mountain and food innovation to advanced and sustainable manufacturing, tourism, and marine technologies. Supporting teams that deal with different technology sectors while respecting the different timeframes needed to validate the market is one of the biggest challenges iNEST will face.

The primary goal of this phase is to encourage university students, doctoral candidates, researchers, and pre-seed start-up members to participate in the Call for Exploring Ideas, where they have the opportunity to present potential ideas to transform into entrepreneurial projects.

To achieve this objective, 10 Scouting Specialists have been appointed, tasked with scouting potential entrepreneurs among students, researchers, and existing pre-seed start-up members. The scouting activity involves organizing individual meetings, where future entrepreneurs receive assistance in compiling a pitch deck. This is a crucial step in preparation for the Selection Day, the moment when the best ideas presented through the Call for Exploring Ideas will be selected to advance to the subsequent Acceleration phase. To encourage greater participation in the Call, each Spoke organizes promotional initiatives, such as events within universities or research institutes, where students and researchers are informed about the Cross-Cutting Activity.

Simultaneously with scouting activities, work is underway on educational materials that will provide future entrepreneurs with essential knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship. Activities of Open Innovation are also being organized with the aim of establishing relationships with companies and other partners, facilitating the development of new projects, spin-offs, and co-innovation activities between universities, start-ups, and businesses.

Would you like to submit your idea?

Apply to the Call of your reference institution!

Not sure which institution to refer to? Click here to request information.

Want to know how the Pitch Deck should be structured? Click here to see the iNEST CC1 template.