Linda Vermaat is director of Innofest and helps innovative entrepreneurs with testing at festivals or other living labs to improve their innovations. What she mainly does is look for new assignments, test locations and innovations. Dennis Sieperda is project leader of the European project Inno-Quarter and also helps startups to test their innovations, but then in the North Sea region; Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. Together they have the same goal, but they both work in a different organization. During the corona crisis, it was time to join forces to continue to achieve the goal that both organizations have.
The heads together
Linda and Dennis are in the same boat. Last year, when the corona crisis just broke out, the idea came up to put our heads together. Innofest and Inno-Quarter both had the same problem: the festivals were canceled or moved to 2021. As a result, they decided to organize brainstorming sessions, to make it possible for innovative entrepreneurs in 2020 to test their innovations. Linda: ‘Then we decided that we would work together and test on Oerol, with food innovations, just to see if this collaboration would work.’The first concrete step of our collaboration is that a product from a startup of Inno-Quarter was able to test its product in the Innofest Test Box during Oerol online.
Online Test Teevee
The Innofest Test Box was distributed last year to the people who signed up for it. This was a new way of testing for both Inno-Quarter and Innofest, which resulted in many interesting results. The participants dared to provide more hard feedback online than when the entrepreneurs were physically next to them during a festival.
Also this year, the Innofest Test Box was delivered to 100 households. This year, the entrepreneurs will test their innovations twice, spread over two weekends, so that they could refine their questions to the participants. During the test weekends, each entrepreneur got his or her own talk show. Here the entrepreneurs received feedback, also via the online tool mentimeter. The advantage of this was that the entrepreneurs could save these answers and thereby improve their product. This gave them honest feedback, which they could store as data for their innovation.
The products were also tested during the parts of the day when you would normally eat the food. Dennis: ‘At the physical festival you tasted the food innovations the moment you sat at the table with an entrepreneur, but not at the time when you were going to eat the food at home.’
(International) future plans
Dennis: ‘It can be complicated for start-ups that there are two similar organizations, so it is important to join forces.’ The collaboration between Inno-Quarter and Innofest is so good that they work together on concrete and international plans for the future. Linda: ‘Apart from Oerol, we will first look at collaborations at Welcome to The Village and Into The Great Wide Open.’
The strength of this collaboration is that the two complement each other well in different areas. Inno-Quarter has a researcher in its midst who investigates what entrepreneurs think of testing and has a European network. Innofest, on the other hand, has developed a large recruitment network and a methodology on how to set up a strong test. When these qualities and strengths are combined, wonderful projects can arise.