Based on our experience from the first edition and our first-hand interaction with the innovation ecosystem, we designed now a 2-track program, with an Academy, dedicated to start-up companies and focused on mentoring and validation of the product with the market and an Accelerator, targeting companies that are more advanced in their path to commercialize innovative products. The Accelerator is focused on pitching, networking and investment tools in order to accelerate the growth of the businesses and to attract direct funding.
Over the course of 5-6 months, RICAP participants will get connected to the vast international network put forward by Larta and the advisors/mentors.
The Academy, designed for emerging companies, will coach you to establish a solid basis for the ongoing development of your nascent enterprise. It means an intensive mentorship program customized to best fit your needs. It will help you validate your technology by business practitioners and take your company to the next level. Your mentors will help you create the foundation of a competitive business, define your clientele, identify the market or customer need/s your technology best addresses and set up your competition matrix. By the end of the program, you would have been working on an “actionable” commercialization strategy and roadmap that will help you navigate the main steps in developing your business for at least 18 months to go.
The Academy involves the following activities:
Personalized Mentoring. Each entrepreneur selected for the program is carefully matched with a (US based) Larta Principal Advisor and a (Romania-based) Local Mentor, grounded on the company’s commercialization needs, as well as the advisors’ industry experience and expertise.
Support in developing tools for marketing innovation. The entrepreneurs, together with the mentors, identify and address commercialization gaps and challenges and work on designing specific commercialization tools (an executive summary, a roadshow presentation that conveys the company`s value proposition and go-to-market strategy, a competitive matrix, an 18-month commercialization strategy roadmap which outlines the objectives governing the company’s commercialization efforts and identifies specific milestones, budgets, team members and timeline for key activities necessary to meet each objective). Do not expect typical one-way mentoring and hand-holding throughout this process. This is about sharing ideas and connections, about getting valuable industry feedback and potentially tapping into the network of Larta’s and RICAP’s high-class growing community of mentors and advisors.
The Commercialization Training Workshop is an intense two day event that kicks off the program and brings together under one roof, in Bucharest, all participants, US Advisors, Local Mentors, selected industry guests and the program staff. Take a look at this video for a glimpse of what you can expect from this event.
Commercialization Webinars feature topic-relevant experts from around the world. They are virtual interactive training sessions hosted on a monthly basis by Larta. RICAP participants will have access to these and other resources way beyond the program end.
Market Connections at Industry Salons are opportunities for participants to engage with members of Larta’s Industry Advisory Board, which includes over 50 members from Fortune 1000 companies from across the globe.
Feedback Sessions are virtual meetings taking place towards the end of the program for companies deemed "market ready" by their advisors, giving them the opportunity to engage with industry executives, successful entrepreneurs from US and receive real-time market validation and feedback on their business model.
The Accelerator, is designed to better capitalize on the potential and readiness of companies on a more advanced stage of business development. Our US and local jury will carefully select among 3 and 5 more advanced businesses out of the total pool of applications which will be invited to enter into RICAP Accelerator. The acceleration services will focus on development and achievement of, what we call, “Targeted Outcomes”, i.e. the accomplishment of very specific objectives where you lack expertise, ability or resources or where you feel you are stuck in. Your US Principal Advisor, Local Mentor and a pool of experts (legal, accounting, financial, IP, upon your need) will offer guidance on the area of your greatest vulnerability and highest need. The Accelerator will run in parallel with the Academy program.
The Accelerator involves the following activities:
Personalized Mentoring. Each entrepreneur selected for the program is carefully matched with a (US based) Larta Principal Advisor and a (Romania-based) Local Mentor, grounded on the company’s commercialization needs. The focus of the mentoring process is to prepare the company for investment, creating tools for business development and also supporting the entrepreneurs in the pitching effort.
Support in developing the business. The Accelerator helps the company grow faster by investing in them time, mentors and other important resources. The program helps the entrepreneurs with introductions and connections to potential partners and customers and also work with the companies on their pitching skills. The program is aimed at preparing them to approach investors and the activities include customized training for each participant on identification of possible investment targets, customized coaching on investor pitching, crowd funding strategy, as well as facilitation of connections to investors (meetings, direct introductions etc.) by the advisors and local mentors involved in the program.
Direct Investment Not only do we facilitate the companies' access to investors, but we also select top companies from the RICAP Accelerator and we invest up to € 15k in return for 7-10% of the company's equity.
Specialized services and free perks. The program offers access to a large network of professionals and services tailored to support and grow a business, from IP and legal matters, to accounting, financial and marketing.
Free office space during the program. If you need a space to work or schedule your meetings, you can use our dedicated office for the program, situated in the center of Bucharest.
Business trip to the US.The top two participants are invited to visit the United States for a US Soft Landing Visit to engage in a series of face-to-face meetings with potential partners and investors and have live Feedback Sessions. The top two selected participants will have two such visits. The first visit will be in June, more as a familiarization tour, to introduce themselves to potential partners and collaborators and to the innovation culture and ecosystem in the U.S. The second one will be in September designed to follow up more deeply with contacts cultivated in the first visit and to further investigate business prospects.
On a more practical note:
All information circulated throughout the program will be confidential. Applicants, Local Mentors, Principal Advisors and project staff will sign confidentiality agreements.
RICAP is a network – based ecosystem, helping technology entrepreneurs to validate their technology, to get feedback from international professionals and to have access to vast resources of mentors, supporters and investors.
When starting RICAP in 2013, the challenge was to link technology innovators to a well-connected international network, so they could come up with valid and solid products. The challenge was to create a program that gives them access to market information, know-how and capital, so they could have a smooth transition from lab to market.
This is what the RICAP Academy does now – helping technology innovators to validate the technology, to build a solid business and be prepared for the global market.
In this 2 years journey, we have discovered passionate entrepreneurs and solid businesses that needed more. They needed access to partners and investors, to capital and to resources, to grow their business faster. And we designed the RICAP Accelerator for advanced companies, in order to help them perfect their financial proposition and to get funding for the next stage of growth.
What do the Academy and Accelerator have in common? They are tailor made to fit the needs of technology innovators and to help them grow solid businesses, by offering customized mentorship and services.
Addressing these needs, RICAP helps technology entrepreneurs and innovators take their products to the international market.
The Romanian Center for Innovation in Local Development (CRIDL) and the United States based Larta Institute partnered to create the Romanian Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (RICAP). The program is funded by the Romanian-American Foundation and is implemented with the support of GEA Strategy & Consulting.
Leveraging Larta’s network of connections and longstanding experience and expertise in building the global competitiveness of technology-based enterprises, the implementation of this program in Romania is the result of Larta and CRIDL joining forces to bring a new approach to supporting the national innovation ecosystem.
For 20 years, Larta Institute has assisted and transformed close to 10,000 innovations into commercially successful enterprises that are both commercially successful and positively impact the human good. Larta works side-by-side with entrepreneurs, industries and governments around the world to help them achieve measurable goals and access specialized expertise & resources through a unique network-centric model.
Learn more at http://www.larta.org.
Established in 2009 by the American Congress, the Romanian-American Foundation (RAF) is the largest American philanthropic foundation in Romania, which funds programs in entrepreneurship, education, and community development. The Foundation's current endowment is $50 million and it is expected to reach $150 million in the coming years.
Learn more at http://www.RAFonline.org.
CRIDL is a non-governmental organization that aims to generate innovative solutions that support local sustainable development in Romania. CRIDL was established in 2011 by a team of people with extensive previous experience of working together in development, including research, private sector development, regional cluster development, national strategy contributions, and policy analysis.
Learn more at http://cridl.org.
Since 2006, GEA Strategy & Consulting has been supporting long term sustainable development of the Romanian economy and society, by offering strategic and development consulting services for the central and local public administration, as well as the local business environment.
Learn more at http://www.geaconsulting.ro/en
Following an evaluation process that considers applicants’ technical approach and their plan for commercial market entry, 20 entrepreneurs will be selected for the program out of which 3-5 companies will go through the Accelerator.
The Application is designed to be filled in 45 minutes. Information requested from applicants is related to: company profile, technology description and value proposition, commercialization status and expectations. Please download the Application Guidelines for more information.
For news about the companies participating in the first edition of RICAP, please check our blog!
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All Romanian technology based entrepreneurs who want to tap into the commercialization potential of their innovative products are invited to apply to the program.
Ideal applicants are technology innovators who want to develop their existing ventures. Sectors include ICT, engineering, agritech, life sciences or climate-related technologies, but are not limited to these.
Applicants should be able to show that their technology addresses a need or problem felt by its users. It can be a different (novel) way to resolve a specific problem; and/or a new way of doing something regular but with a measurably superior outcome; and/or something that, in combination with an existing product or service, creates something novel, that brings added value.
The program addresses entrepreneurs with a proven commitment to commercializing an existing product, whether they have just been launched or they have a longer history behind. Researchers with an entrepreneurial interest and spin-offs are welcome to apply as long as they are planning to set up an enterprise and can prove their commercialization intentions.
RICAP runs over approximately six months. Participants are announced in January 2016. The program will kick off in February with a Commercialization Training Workshop of two days in Bucharest. After that, webinars, industry salons and personalized mentoring and training will take place throughout the program, until July 2016. Feedback sessions are scheduled in October 2016 for selected Academy companies.
Yes. RICAP Innovation Info events will be held in November. They are two-hour sessions that are meant to give you a better idea of the program and answer any questions you may have before applying. There are also an opportunity for you to meet the Larta, CRIDL and GEA Strategy & Consulting teams implementing this program. Events will take place in Bucharest (November, 10th), Cluj-Napoca (November, 4th), Timisoara (November, 6th), Brasov (November, 19th) and Iasi (November, 12).
The selection criteria for the pool of 20 wanted participants are detailed in the Application Guidelines. the top scored companies matching these criteria will be invited to the accelerator.
No. The Accelerator will include minimum 3 applicants.
RICAP selection process is two-phased. A local jury will judge a pre-selection of all applications by the selection criteria detailed into the Application Guidelines. The local jury is formed of Local mentors and Program Director, all well reputed pros. The final pool of participants will be evaluated and selected by a Larta Institute team joined by the local jury.
The equity share will be set upon negotiation.
The CTW will kick off the program in February 2016. It will be a two day event and it will take place in Bucharest. The first day will have a number of panels discussing various commercialization relevant topics, as well as Larta and CRIDL staff presenting. During the second day, the principal advisors and local mentors will meet with the companies face to face and discuss desired outcomes and goals for the program.
Industry Salons are on-line 60-minute sessions dedicated to a specific industry. They are both presentation-based and interactive. The way they work is that during a session, two speakers from two companies present their technology need, partnering structure etc., for about 15-20 minutes each. Then after each presentation, as well as at the end, the floor is open for attendees to ask questions and start a discussion with the presenters. An Industry Saloon might be an extraordinary chance to get in touch with new partners.
Industry Partnering Salons are held in regular intervals six to eight times a year, covering different sectors (Agriculture/Agritech, Cleantech/Energy, Chemicals/Materials, Life Sciences, and Electronics/IT/ Software).
Commercialization webinars are Larta hosted virtual seminars, where industry and/or subject matter expert present on various topics, e.g. Market Research, IP, Branding, Financial Forecasting, Social Media, etc. Webinars are interactive, and attendees have the chance to ask live questions to the presenters.
Webinars are held every 3-5 weeks. All RICAP participants will be invited to Larta commercialization webinars during the program.
Each selected company will spend 20 hours in mentoring sessions and individual assistance with their local mentor and Larta Principal Advisor. In addition to that, you are advised to take into consideration additional time required to work on specific documents, issues or other tasks, as appropriate, up to 80-100 hours.
Larta's Principal Advisors are first-rate consultants and business executives with proven abilities in helping the growth of innovative enterprises in diverse technology areas. All of them have served in industry and have executive-level experience. Many of them have also served as consultants and advisors to large and small companies. The mentors are Romanian top-notch entrepreneurs with a lot of experience in developing local and international tech companies relevant to the activity field of the selected company.
With the exception of the kick-off Commercialization Training Workshop, the meetings will take place virtually, as the advisors are located in US. Meetings with local mentors may take place virtually or live.
These are: the mentoring sessions, the Industry Salons, Feedback Sessions for most promising Academy companies and a Show case event (Demo day).
No. It should be the person making your business decisions.
Networking soft-landing visits are services addressed to top 2 market ready companies in the Accelerator. The program plans 2 US travels for each selected company, aiming to get the most out of it: 1st travel (June 2016) will introduce the company and its technology to potential partners, get feedback and do some home –work when coming back (rethinking some key elements in the commercialization strategy, and 2nd travel (Sept 2016) for final feedback and possible partnerships. For the companies visiting the US, airplane tickets and accommodation are not covered by the program.
Local travel and any accommodation needed to attend the kick-off workshop taking place in Bucharest is not covered by the program.
Yes. Since all the meetings with the Principal Advisors and the workshops will be held in English, it is mandatory for you to speak English at a conversational level.
The simple answer here is "innovative is as innovative does." A technology does not intrinsically have to be novel (new) to be innovative. The most important thing it needs to do, however, is to address a need or problem that is felt by some segment of a projected user base, even if this represents a "niche" or small area within the overall market segment in which it participates.
An innovative technology may be:
Applications which have attempted to answer the questions "Who cares about this?", "Why will they buy it?" and "How does it differ from what is being currently offered or the current way of doing things?" (performance, cost, method etc.) will be preferred.
Yes, as long as you have developed it already.
No. You need to be ready to take your technology to the market.
We only accept applications from registered enterprises. However, if you are planning on registering a company and have not done so yet, we encourage you to do so before application deadline. We accept applications from companies registered one day before deadline.
Yes. Please make sure you describe the credentials and experience of your management team in your application form.