Interview with Jasmina Popovska from EIT Manufacturing

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EIT Manufacturing joined AVCO in September 2022. Learn more about the largest innovation network for the European manufacturing industry from Jasmina Popovska, Senior Business Creation Manager, with whom we had the talk…

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I have been a Senior Business Creation Manager at EIT Manufacturing since October 2020. My main activities are developing and working on programmes for supporting and funding industrial start-ups and scale-ups in the CEE region. Since 2006, I have held various positions related to fund management and the financial services industry. My passion is to support the funding of socially impactful causes, so I am also a member of the management board in several foundations working on the empowerment of people through start-up creation and providing better living conditions.

What is your company’s activity, what is its competitive edge?

EIT Manufacturing is the largest innovation network for the European manufacturing industry. We bring together leading actors in the manufacturing domain across research, business and academia to drive innovation and support the development of new technologies and solutions. We work along the so-called knowledge triangle consisting of the areas Innovation, Education and Business Creation.

The main goal of our Business Creation activities is to support and invest in industry start-ups and scale-ups, providing them with various valuable services and resources that will allow them to grow quickly across the European market and bring their innovative solutions faster to key manufacturing players. On the other hand, we support our pan-European network of manufacturing corporates in getting access to leading manufacturing innovations and co-investment opportunities in Industry 4.0 and 5.0 start-ups and their cutting-edge solutions.

Our pan-European network of leading manufacturing corporates, universities, start-ups and scale-ups that work in open innovation and collaborative environments, our special focus on manufacturing and our team of business creation and investment experts distributed across Europe is what truly differentiates us from other players on the market. Our offices in Austria, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, and our local partnerships across Europe allow us to be closer to the manufacturing hotspots and to bring industrial innovation where it is needed the most, namely in Europe’s key manufacturing sectors.

What are your main projects/targets for 2023?

Since 2021, we have engaged with more than 500 industry start-ups and scale-ups and we actively supported more than 100 of them with access to new markets services and introductions to our corporate network. We have also invested in 12 start-ups and scale-ups and they receive support in business development and internationalisation. We plan to continue and ramp up our investment activities in the coming three years, as the manufacturing sector needs new solutions and partners to address pressing challenges caused by the global crises and to become more resilient and sustainable.

In parallel, to strengthen our pipeline, we plan to continue and grow the “Discover Vienna: Manufacturing Edition” programme that we launched together with the Vienna Business Agency in 2021. Within the two editions of the programme, we brought 24 leading CEE industry start-ups to Vienna, and we connected them to more than 25 key manufacturing companies and investors to help them enter the DACH market. For 2023, we plan similar programmes on a national level focused on industry 5.0 scale-ups with deep-tech solutions, which will be presented to the Austrian manufacturing companies and investors.

In an ideal situation, what would you change or improve in the current VC/PE market?

Industrial start-ups have their own specifics when it comes to the size of investments, scalability, and sales cycles, especially if the solutions consist of hardware elements. On the other side, there are not many players in the investor community that understand or are willing to take the higher risks related to industrial start-ups. However, Covid-19 and the changing geopolitical situations worldwide demand investing in the competitiveness of Europe’s industrial sectors as a pressing priority. If I could change anything in the current VC/PE market, I would really like to see more investors, especially corporate VCs investing in and supporting industry start-ups and scale-ups, and larger investment rounds that could ensure their scaling into global champions, as this can only benefit the European community and make sure that global manufacturing innovation is led by Europe.

Which one of the following topics inspires you most and why?

Without a doubt, the sustainability topic inspires me the most. We live in very important and dynamic times, and we have to make decisions that will have a fundamental influence on the lives of future generations. Therefore, we dedicate our time and resources to helping manufacturing companies become greener and more sustainable, and we aim to be among the most active organisations supporting the implementation of the “Green Deal” and the achievement of the climate targets, set by the Paris Agreement.

Thank you very much for the interview!

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