Kicking off in early 2018, our Global Innovation Partnerships Programme, T-DEB, was designed with a final milestone: a final showcase on March 3rd 2020 that provided a platform for all successful companies to present their work and network with potential financiers, clients, and organisations that could help them further their partnership projects beyond T-DEB. This event is the culmination point for partnerships, marking the end of the project that began as a series of needs-assessment workshops in Turkey and resulted in a cohort of UK and Turkish companies with joint R&D projects in the Health, Environment, and Smart Cities sectors.
The Tekiu team had the pleasure of working with an impressive cohort of companies and organisations through T-DEB. Today, two years on, we have a shortlist of Turkish and UK partners actively working on a wide array of areas. Indeed, if one were to have a theme for the final event showcasing these innovators’ joint projects, it would be diversity -- not just a diversity of fields but also of approaches, expectations, and needs. This is something that we have encouraged throughout the project and will continue to do so in future iterations, as any truly bespoke knowledge transfer approach should do.
Everything that has a beginning has an end of course, but clearly the showcase event marks a final point for this project only -- it is only the beginning for emerging partnerships across all themes.
And here we are, having just wrapped up the showcase event in early March, we already look forward to partnerships evolving rapidly and bringing into life applications that will address the societal challenges in Turkey with reverse applications in the UK and beyond.
But our final event was not merely a showcase event. To be sure, companies delivered their partnership presentations efficiently for five minutes each in two parallel sessions, but what many would agree is what made even more impact was the conversations that built upon those pitches: companies across cohorts speaking to each other and to our guests in networking opportunities throughout the day.
Some of the investment-related thoughts that came up in the showcase presentations were further explored in a panel discussion of investors with global experience, offering insights from a crowd that many early in their commercial journey often find mystifyingly ‘blackboxed’.
The one-on-one partnering sessions that followed paved the way for many new bonds and provided another opportunity for strengthening existing ties. As companies begin the herculean task of delivering on their partnership objectives, they will take onboard many insights and connections from the event.
No mention of a March 2020 event should go without stating the obvious.
Our event date was set a long time ago for early March -- as every event organiser in Europe has figured out by now, that would prove to be an extraordinary month. Despite several understandable cancellations due to covid-19 concerns, it was still fortunate enough timing that what has now become a full-on public health crisis had not brought in a lockdown yet, and we were lucky to have such a keen crowd both from Turkey and the UK. For that, we are ever grateful and hope our international partnerships will persevere and continue to flourish against a backdrop of new global challenges.
Last but not least, none of this would have been possible without countless individuals and organisations who have been part of the journey. There was a wide range of organisations, companies and funders participating with over 60 people joining to meet our 32 T-DEB companies at last night's final showcase event. That surely sparkled a lot of energy in the room: the synergies between Turkey and the UK are evident, and there is certainly much appetite for international programmes that support collaborative partnership-building. Everyone benefits from collaborative R&D, but most importantly, it is our society that benefits the most from it.
Let me finish by saying, on behalf of everyone here at Tekiu: a massive thank you to all our T-DEB companies. Your hard work and endeavours are truly what makes T-DEB a success and the ideals behind it a reality-in-making.
The showcase marks the end of T-DEB, but not of the mission it has long pursued. Through the partnerships formed, it’s just the beginning of longer term relations and partnerships between the UK and Turkish innovation ecosystems.