InnotourUSA 2014: Disclosing secrets of success in the Silicon Valley

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After an exciting first week in DC and New York, the moment all #InnotourUSA participants were looking forward arrived: the Silicon Valley! Here we had a lively discussion with Bill Reichter at Garage Technology Ventures and got to know how the Start Up world functions in the Silicon Valley at StartUp Genome. We also met with innovation practitioners at the Global Innovation Summit and had a pitching session for five European StartUps. Furthermore, InnoutourUSA group had a networking dinner with VCs, Professors from Stanford and key actors from the Tech scene in Virginia and other US innovation ecosystems. All that was possible thanks to our partnership with the Global Innovation Summit! During the event itself the EYIF President Kumardev Chatterjee participated in a panel discussion with other US Government actors. And now, after three innovation ecosystems, 20+ meetings, 50+ inspirational discussions with top experts, yet #InnotourUSA has arrived to its end.

The first meeting with Bill Reichter from Garage Technology Ventures was a great discussion on how to be successful and ‘to-go-global’ in the Valley. It’s all about timing and commitment, he said. Timing, because you need to choose the right time to start with your project avoiding being absorbed by competitors and at the same time, not being too late to start building your company structure. Commitment, because in the Silicon Valley business is about trust, is about going native, or in other words getting settled there.

InnotourUSA continued with an inspiring meeting with a European entrepreneur who made it in the Valley: Bjorn Hermann, CEO & Founder at Compass who runs an ambitious project – the StartUp Genome. In his opinion most of the StartUps fail not because of the competition but because of self-destruction. Badly organised decision-making may kill your company. We finished our discussion with an interesting remark on a new trend he’s witnessing in the Valley: nowadays most of the companies recruit people in other countries which can be viewed as a building-bridges process between Europe and the Silicon Valley. And, like in a fairy tale, the best comes at the end.

For the first time EYIF partnered with the Global Innovation Summit. EYIF Founder and President was invited to speak in a panel to present the efforts we are investing to create more innovation ecosystems in Europe along with the US government and the Swedish Innovation Agency in Silicon Valley. Moreover, EYIF supported five European startups to pitch their projects in front of the key actors in the Silicon Valley. We are especially delighted with this achievement, because supporting European innovators and entrepreneurs is a priority for us. Yes, we believe that in order to strengthen European innovation ecosystems, to support European young innovators and entrepreneurs, the establishment of partnerships with the Silicon Valley is crucial. We, from the EYIF, believe that we made an important step towards this goal and we are giving a good example to our fellows and partners. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the #InnotourUSA. Join #InnoYear 2014!

InnotourUSA 2014: Get empowered to drive change in Europe!
Innovation regards from the States, #InnotourUSA fellows! We want to assure you that EYIF has been warmly welcomed during the ground-breaking tour of innovation centres in Washington DC and New York.

Washington DC

What were the ingredients for a great recipe in DC? Inspiring meetings at the Department of State, discovering the role of universities in supporting entrepreneurship at the historic Georgetown University, insightful professional exchange with trade representatives about US-EU commercial relations and, last but not least, a thorough discussion on youth entrepreneurship at the White House with President Obama’s entrepreneurship team. We learned about US initiatives to foster youth entrepreneurship abroad and about policies that have been supporting entrepreneurs in the US since the 80s. We also got to know what makes innovation ecosystems in the US unique: the risk-taking mindset and the culture of success. On our side, we advocated for strengthening the US-EU cooperation in favour of young innovators and entrepreneurs. We were emphasizing the important role of mentorship, partnerships and innovation/ start-up policy development.

New York

New York City was equally motivating and exciting! InnotourUSA participants were attending each of the meetings more and more empowered to take it to the next level. We met with journalists in innovation at the Inc. magazine premises to discuss the importance of story-telling and communication in the field of entrepreneurship. We are happy that after the meeting they shared on Twitter: “#Sochi2014 isn’t the only gathering of global superstars. Inc. was honored to host these int’l entrepreneurs today.” Hence, now the EYIF community feels more empowered to drive change in Europe!

We also got the chance to take part in a networking event and pitching with VCs and innovators at the Ultra Light Startups Investor Feedback Forum. Lots of ideas to replicate! InnotourUSA participants learned about the outcome oriented education provided by the General Assembly for the emerging entrepreneurs. We gained impressive insight into how social entrepreneurship and innovation work together to catalyse social change at the Centre for Social Innovation. We also found out about the movement to change mindsets created by Digital Dumbo, as they claim “it’s a movement, it’s a culture”.

Meeting with senior journalists at Vice and listening to their innovative ways of “choosing and telling great stories in the language of your audience” was yet another exciting lesson learned. It turned out to be a last minute surprise to our InnotourUSA group that we had a fruitful discussion on innovation technologies with Wired magazine!

These have been amazing first five days and we would like to pass you the message: Get EMPOWERED to drive change in Europe! It’s up to young people to take ownership and leadership of their future. This is what InnotourUSA is inspiring us for. Stay posted, more is coming this week from San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

InnotourUSA 2014: 8 Young Innovators from 8 European countries on an innovation tour in the States USA

From February 9 to 19, eight young innovators from eight European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, and Romania) will embark on the Innotour USA, a ground-breaking tour of innovation centres across the United States. At a turning point in the European economic crisis, the focus is now on growth and engagement of the disenfranchised, particularly young people, the self-employed and the unemployed. In this context, the delegation of young entrepreneurs led by the European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF) will advocate the innovation agenda and open a dialogue with their American counterparts to empower European youth to address the challenges associated with fueling new growth paradigms through innovation. The Innotour USA is an Exchange Program on U.S. Innovation and Entrepreneurship managed, for the second time, by the U.S. Department of State through the U.S Mission to the European Union in Brussels in partnership with the European Young Innovators Forum. The first edition was successfully run in 2012 and inspired young Europeans to change mindsets towards innovation in Europe, reaching EYIF’s community and beyond. This year, the selected young innovators – finalists and winners of various pitch competitions organised by EYIF – will repeat the same tremendous experience by visiting the major American hubs of innovation, meet with top start-ups, entrepreneurs and experts, and experience first-hand the best practices of turning ideas into innovation during the 10 day tour. More than just a study tour on innovation, Innotour USA is a cultural exchange that will have a broad and lasting impact, building bridges between Europe and the US on a common quest for innovation and development. The experience of the participants, serving as ambassadors from Europe, will be relayed throughout the trip using videos, blog articles and posts on our social media Facebook and Twitter. Do you want to find out more about the InnotourUSA? Come along for the ride!