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InnoHub, the acceleration platform for late-stage startups, is celebrating its first anniversary. We had the opportunity to speak to Pol Goetzinger, managing director, to take stock of the latest developments.
(Featured Image: Pol Goetzinger, InnoHub’s Managing Director / Image Credit: Olivier Minaire)

Positioned as a private soft landing platform for late-stage startups, InnoHub has been running as a startup from day one, applying the recipe of learning by doing. “InnoHub is always targeting, abroad, startups known as late-stage or even spin-offs of foreign groups that want to open an innovation center in Luxembourg and internationalize their activities there,” says Goetzinger. The platform offers its customers sustainable support, which spans from three to five years and includes three major cycles of support, as described by Goetzinger: “review of the economic model, support for fundraising, and support for the startups in their efforts for traction and growth.”

“What changes is the weighting of these accompanying cycles: if, at the start, the emphasis was on identifying innovative projects and raising funds, our model is increasingly oriented towards sales support and strategic marketing activities.”

“Right from the start, we have targeted the EcoTech, FinTech, RegTech, ICT / Media and e-commerce sectors, but we are opening up to BioHealth and HealthIT more specifically.”

Improving the Deal Flow

Logically, in its first year of existence, InnoHub teams have focused their efforts on identifying innovative projects and getting startups to sign on – 25 have to date. Today, deal flow generated by the platform is recognized as a quality deal flow. “Our goal is not to double or triple the number of signed companies, but to strengthen the process of evaluating the companies we select, using the Vianeo methodology as well as a network of sector-specific experts,” Goetzinger adds.

“Right from the start, we have targeted the EcoTech, FinTech, RegTech, ICT / Media and e-commerce sectors, but we are opening up to BioHealth and HealthIT more specifically. We signed our first startup and should sign two more this year, at a minimum,” said the managing director. To select such projects, InnoHub works in partnership with experts who are responsible for due diligence, both in terms of evaluating the economic model and the potential for innovation of the projects. This sectorial diversification is also made possible by the foreign partners of the platform who filter projects. “We want to continue in this direction and confirm our initiative and impact on the Luxembourg market, namely the ability to attract highly innovative projects, with a very high entrepreneurial quality and close to market entry,” said Goetzinger.

“Recently, the Keiretsu Forum decided to select five accelerators in Europe to develop their deal flow and offer more investment opportunities to their wealthy members. We are fortunate today to be included in these five European partners”

Expanding the Network of Investors

The diversification of potential investors is InnoHub’s second strategic development axis. The platform has been working from the beginning with VCs in and around Luxembourg. It can also boast of working from its inception with the Foster Institut, the largest German family network based in Frankfurt, and more recently with the Keiretsu Forum, an American private organization with more than 2,500 investors worldwide. “I met with the leaders of the Keiretsu Forum two years ago in San Francisco. At the time, the ticket was $10 million, which we did not have! Since then, they have opened branches in North America, Asia and Europe, including London and Paris. Recently, they decided to select five accelerators in Europe to develop their deal flow and offer more investment opportunities to their wealthy members. We are fortunate today to be included in these five European partners,” explains Goetzinger. Through this partnership with the Keiretsu Forum, InnoHub has access to the files of startups interested in coming to Luxembourg and also can put forth the files of its startups to investors of the network and thereby obtain additional visibility for them. InnoHub is always building lasting relationships with its investors network and offers them a catalog of innovative projects in which to invest every three to six months. “We are almost getting into the business of proactive scouting for investors given the quality of the first deals we brought to Luxembourg.”

InnoHub is now extending its service offerings by offering a financial engineering service to its clients in collaboration with specialized partners of the InnoHub Luxembourg platform. “The latter allows us to structure requests for financing that are much more ambitious than those originally planned, provided of course that startups assume their growth,” says Goetzinger.

The private equity market is also on the agenda and InnoHub seems to have every reason to offer its know-how to family offices and private banks. The acceleration platform has teamed up with a Swiss company that specializes in the setup of VC strategies. In this way, InnoHub can offer more to private equity players in Luxembourg and expand the range of investments made in startups.

“We have developed B2B service offerings, do market research and we are commercializing this service which will allow for an acceleration of the growth of the startup”

A Boutique Consulting Firm Specialized in Strategic Support and Sales Assistance

Although the last 12 months constituted the launch phase for InnoHub, this did not prevent the platform from registering some early successes including attracting some 20 rare jewels in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, fundraising 10 million euros, and initiating the testing of its third high valued axis of development: strategic marketing and business development support. Thanks to a network of professional partners, InnoHub is now entrusted with subcontracting out business development to its partners in order to boost sales of certain startups’ products and services. It has done this for Wondermags, one of its startups for which it now manages exclusively the B2B sales. “We have developed B2B service offerings, do market research and we are commercializing this service which will allow for an acceleration of the growth of the startup,” says Goetzinger.

Its driving role within the Luxembourg ecosystem and its active participation in the development of an innovative entrepreneurial culture in Luxembourg make InnoHub Luxembourg a boutique consulting firm now indispensable for fundraising and business development for foreign startups who choose the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as a landing hub for growth.

(InnoHub Luxembourg’s 1st Anniversary on June 14, 2017 / Image Credit © Pierre Levy)

This article was first published in the Spring 2017 issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.

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