Join Portfolio Day: Connecting the Neue Industry with Europe’s Most Exciting Deep Tech
Six companies pitched their latest developments, Gur Kimchi talked drones and we all got the chance to reaffirm our purpose as investors in European deep tech.
Since the events of 2020 unfolded, many of us find ourselves appreciating the moments we’re able to convene in person just a little bit more. That was certainly the case at our 2021 Portfolio Day. We weren’t sure it would happen, but it did, and without a hitch. In light of the obstacles we all faced in 2020, we were happy to bring everyone safely together.
Our entire team was thrilled by the attendance and participation at this year’s event, and it certainly reaffirmed our mission to be a key connector between Europe’s most exciting deep tech companies and European industrial powerhouses — especially those in the German Mittelstand.
From industrial planning, to execution, to quality control
Six of our portfolio companies pitched throughout the day, and in a way that allowed our audience to understand investment in the entire value chain of the industrial ecosystem.
On the planning side, we have Valispace, which engineers use to plan complex hardware. Then there’s Frenetic, whose software is used to plan and test industrial magnets. In an increasingly electrified world, it’s a game-changer for helping get products to market fast. Finally, IP Rally allows IP professionals and R&D engineers to intuitively build patent search queries and increase their hit rate.
Next up is the execution phase of industrial manufacturing. Rheocube powers the way people do R&D, bringing computer simulations into the picture instead of just physical lab experiments.
Finally, after products have been built, AI can be utilized to ensure the highest quality control. FotoNow demonstrates this with pioneering visual quality control software.
The link between drones and insects
Gur Kimchi, Co-founder of Amazon Prime Air, treated us to a talk on testing for autonomous vehicles. Complicated applications must interact with the real world and real people. That, according to Kimchi, is the tricky (and potentially scary) part when it comes to autonomy — especially the safety aspect.
“The world is the ultimate random event generator,” Kimchi said. “Will autonomous systems behave correctly when faced with new events? What if each new event happens exactly once, again and again?”
For example, what if a bear wanders into an airport runway directly in the path of an autonomous plane? Unlikely, but possible (it has happened). The world can produce a crazy amount of different, random scenarios, and it’s crucial for autonomous technology to behave correctly in all of them.
Defining and measuring success is important when inputs and outputs are unbounded, Kimchi said. Collecting diverse sets of data types is also key, alongside test-driven development. That’s the only way companies can scale in the real world while managing stakeholder expectations and maintaining safety.
Our team at Join loved seeing the valuable link Kimchi’s perspective and our portfolio company, Opteran, which is driving autonomous technology through reverse-engineering of insect brains. It’s always thrilling to watch the direct potential for a technology unfold in practical applications.
Sustainability as a competitive advantage for startups
No discussion is truly complete in 2021 without touching on the subject of sustainability. Lubomila Jordanova, CEO and Co-founder of Plan A, discussed ESG, and the fact that doing “business as usual” simply isn’t possible anymore without confronting the elephants in the room: environmental and social issues. There are various costs to ignorance or inaction — and it’s worth it for investors to consider sustainability, despite the unknowns or stigmas attached to unquantifiable returns.
With sustainability on each discussion table, we feel most confident entering into uncharted territory with investments heading into the new year. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there’s value in being adaptable for what is headed our way in the future. We’re truly excited for what the next year brings, and hope you’ll continue to join us on the ride in growing Europe’s next wave of industrial giants.
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