Work package 5 is an essential step in the validation of the blueprint developed in Work Package 6. PLF entrepreneurs will be trained in the blueprint. A competition will be held and the best ideas will receive a certain amount of seed funding to demonstrate the benefits of their technology on a real farm. Through personalised coaching we will help to create 5 Smart Farming spin-offs.
5.1 Create awareness of promising PLF technologies
A number of research laboratories and technology companies (typically 50) are selected based on a market study and screening procedure, looking suitable candidate entrepreneurs. Five workshops are organised to inform a pre-selected group of companies and research labs. The workshops serve mainly to motivate attendants to start a business in PLF, to use our methodology and to participate in the competition. With the support of a fund administration board, the technologies and teams are scored, using the SO Kwadraat evaluation matrix (www.sokwadraat.be). This method enables identification of valorisation potential of a team and their technology. It also reveals the weak spots during the creation process of a spin-off company. Suitable candidates for evaluation are identified using promotional events in Spain, Benelux and potentially Italy.
5.2 Develop prototypes to demonstrate new PLF applications
The selected teams develop prototypes, demonstrating new PLF applications. Market driven steering of the developments is performed during different coaching sessions, and with the support of the fund administration board. For prototype development, the fund administration board will award a total of 100,000€ to the successful teams to build one or more prototypes. A working prototype is a key success factor for a high-tech start-up. Other important factors are (1) majority stake for the founding team, (2) short and flexible business plan (3), a market driven technology road map. The output of this task is a set of prototypes, demonstrating new PLF technologies that can be commercialised through a spin-off.
5.3 Create and valorise spin-off companies
Five selected teams are coached individually with one objective: valorisation of existing technology in the field of PLF through spin-off creation. The developed business models will be instrumental as guidelines for new business creation. Feedback on the developed business models is generated, based on real-life experiences. An important tool during coaching is an evaluation matrix, indicating the status of the venture for different aspects such as technological feasibility, market know-how, performance of the team, intellectual property protection, etc. Coaching involves team optimization, technology evaluation, business concept definition, market validation and concept iteration, business plan generation, and start-up.