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We hear it often during events or read it in an article: the world is changing faster than ever. Innovation is the driving force behind this. But innovation is not only changing the world, the world seems to change the way we innovate as well. During the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (YEA) Summit in Berlin, this change became evident. We wanted to share some of our insights with you.

Our first Global Competition selection event in Berlin brought together 24 selected startups from 10 countries. Entrepreneurs with different backgrounds, companies and expertise. Despite those differences, there were some striking similarities. In our day-to-day work with startups, we see a few trends that seem to appear more often. Trends about how startups behave, think and act. During our training session and the selection pitches these new trends were confirmed once again. So, what changes are happening exactly? Let’s take a look.  

1) STARTUPS WANT TO HELP EACH OTHER
The startup scene can be harsh. Entrepreneurs are fighting to obtain a spot in highly competitive industries. But we see more and more that startups are willing to help each other. A striking example is how startups behaved during our pitch training. During these trainings we always ask 2 companies to do an example pitch, unprepared. After the pitch we asked the other participants to discuss and give feedback. By doing so we want to enhance the learning of all participants. As a startup it can be hard to get this sort of feedback, since you are building your company alone. However, helping each other in sessions like this is valuable. During the session we saw that all participants were highly active in giving feedback to each other. And this happens more and more. Instead of considering each other as competition, founders are getting more open in helping fellow entrepreneurs.

 2) STARTUPS BECOME MORE AND MORE MISSION DRIVEN
We know that there are a lot of problems in this world, and we know that there are plenty entrepreneurs addressing them. Today, innovation is not just selling or offering a product. It’s about being driven by a purpose that is larger than what you are selling. At the G20YEA Summit there was no difference.

Take for example the company Interface Fluidics from Canada, who have developed a nanotechnology solution for analyzing chemical samples in oil and gas reservoirs. For example, large oil companies need to test oil samples when extracted. Interface Fluidics solution uses microfluidics in their new sampling technology. A process which previously needed half an oil barrel from your reservoir now needs only needs a miniature package, is astoundingly 100 times faster and reduces costs up to 90% and reduces impact on the environment. After discussing this with Tom (COO, Interface Fluidics) we found out that he was driven by solving very large problems with very tiny solutions. Every day we come across entrepreneurs like Tom, driven to make impact, each in his or her own way.

3) STARTUPS ARE RATHER LOOKING FOR CUSTOMERS THAN FUNDING
It has been a trend that we’ve seen developing over the past years: startups are more often looking for customers than funding. Previously a major part of the startup’s success was evaluated based on how much funding they had raised. However, we see a shift towards companies that do not seek funding but prefer to focus on customers, pilots and collaborations in order to develop their company.

At Get in the Ring Berlin, the startups also pitched more about new, large customers. And of course the majority of them probably needed some funding to scale faster, but in their opinion, if customers were pulled in, investors would follow.

CybelAngel, the winner of the event, is a perfect example of this. With their cybersecurity technology they have been able to pull in amazing customers such as Sanofi, Deutsche Bank, Air France and Louis Vuitton and are collaborating with national authorities in France such as the National Agency for the Security of Information Systems but also in Europe with  Europol. Now they are looking for investment to scale up faster and investors are lining up, because they have these large customers.

4) STARTUPS DON’T THINK ABOUT BORDERS ANY MORE 
These days we are talking a lot about borders, nationalities and where people are allowed to be. Entrepreneurs are thinking the exact opposite. Among startups and entrepreneurs to common idea is to have a borderless world. This was reflected during the G20YEA, as one of the big topics were special visas for entrepreneurs and tech talent in order to accelerate the digital transformation of our economies. Some startups, like VanHack are jumping in on this new trend. Their business model is based on a borderless world, which enables companies to find tech talent from around the world and place anywhere, anytime.

These are just a few of the many trends happening in the innovation scene. To us, these are positive developments, leading to a better and a ‘healthier’ innovation climate. What trends do you see? Let us know!