What a year it has been. At the beginning of 2020, no one suspected it to become such an odd year, to say the least. The impact of the coronavirus crisis on our imec.istart ventures, and on the entrepreneurial landscape in general, has been very different. Some businesses have seen unprecedented growth (even surpassing your most optimistic 2021 scenarios), whilst others saw their revenue decline to almost nothing.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the past, as I believe entrepreneurs like you prefer to look ahead rather than over your shoulder. Yet, I’m proud to see how our startups tackled 2020’s many challenges. They’ve proved to share some vital traits which I admire: agility and never-ending resilience. All of our ventures have adapted to the new situation(s) quickly and now continue to make the best of it.
For this new year, I hope we can keep the best of both worlds. The current period of (semi) lockdowns has challenged us but also brought good things. We’ve had to rethink how we do international business, attend events, get in touch with prospects, recruit potential new team members, and renew existing contracts. We will not fully return to ‘business as it used to be’ anymore, but we will consolidate what has worked throughout this COVID period. Initial meetings to explore if a tech solution or innovative service could be relevant to a prospect will most likely continue to happen online. People (hopefully) will not spend as much time in cars or airplanes anymore. We will value and appreciate the ‘real’ human interaction more than ever before. I think most of us are looking forward to more meetings again, but in the real sense of the word. Reencountering people face-to-face and seeing and sensing each other’s emotions in real life is much better than through a Zoom or MS Teams ‘meeting’ (“interaction” is probably a better word than “meeting” for these online encounters). At imec.istart, we are also adapting to the ‘new normal’ (+1 in the buzzword bingo). We will continue to host our workshops and events via online platforms or set up ‘hybrid’ formulas to meet and connect.
The main goal of imec.istart is to help tech startups run their businesses efficiently. That’s why we work hard on new opportunities to connect them faster to a broad range of local and global corporates, potential customers and partners, and offer longer-term support – financially and otherwise – alongside their journey.
From the entire imec.istart team, we warm-heartedly wish you and your business a very optimistic year, full of (new) opportunities and a year in which your resilience pays off. A year also in which we can meet again at multiple live occasions and exchange stories by a coffee or a beer.
Sven De Cleyn
imec.istart program director