Random Thoughts on Belgium and Innovation

I’ve been reading a lot lately on how Belgium is killing innovation in multiple ways. Especially the recent examples on Uber, 4G and Apple. However over the last couple of years there have been multiple initiatives that are really doing a great job in helping startups further building out their business.

I love all the good work that the guys from iMinds BetaGroup BRYO etc are doing in that area.

For Engagor we have never actually been looking in applying for all the different kinds of grants that currently exist (ok, to be fair, we did eventually do a round of funding, but that was in a later stage when we had our sustainable revenue machine built and a totally different story). That’s just money and doesn’t really help you build a business. The network of people, entrepeneurs and other startups that share your pain in growing every part of your business, that’s where the real value is.

I’m really not a proponent of subsidizing startups. It can be very helpful of course, but early stage startups are focusing too much on just the product. To be frank, creating a product is easy. Building and scaling your business around that is the tricky part and 100x more difficult to execute.

Instead of subsidizing startups, it would make a lot more sense to subsidize companies that want to buy from startups. This helps to increase innovation (and a sustainable economy based on that) in numerous ways. First of all it forces startups to think about executing and more importantly selling their products. For larger companies (or governmental institutions) it can remove part of the risk related in buying from startups.

What would you prefer as a startup?

  • Receive a grant of €40k?
  • Get 10 new customers with a total value of €80k of which half of that is paid by the government?