Large companies are often stuck in their daily operations, which makes it difficult to find new solutions. This is why the Chamber of Commerce (KVK) devised the Business Challenge. Small entrepreneurs are asked if they can come up with new solutions.
Small businesses are more innovative, says the KVK. “Large companies remain stuck in existing solutions, while small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often much more creative and flexible and thus come up with new innovations.” Yet it is difficult for small entrepreneurs to get in with the big companies. Moreover, they do not know what problems are at play at the companies. Because the two parties still do not know how to find each other, the KVK is now acting as a matchmaker.
Large companies take few risks
Jamaica Heijer is innovation manager at a large construction company that participates in the Challenge. She explains the innovation process: “There are many rules and risks are avoided. As a result, the innovation process can be slow.”
To still innovate, Heijer says SMEs are especially interesting parties to work with. “Start-ups take a lot of risks and don’t readily show the back of their hand. Small and medium-sized enterprises are a good interim solution: more flexible but familiar with scaling up a product. After all, that’s what a big company wants.”
Small businesses have new ideas
The door is now open to the creative ideas of SMEs. Manfred van der Voort is happy about it. He is an entrepreneur and participated in the challenge last year together with two other entrepreneurs. For a large insurance company they are now developing a device that should prevent chimney fires. “It’s often about simple solutions. So that’s easy money.”
As a small entrepreneur, he can put the capital to good use. “Being an entrepreneur is not all fun, that’s the image that sometimes exists. It’s stressful and hard work. You need a big job now and then to stay afloat.”
Hate the big paper mill
There is one thing the small business owner should consider before signing up for the Challenge: you have to go through the paper mill. ”We are still waiting for the green light from the insurer. That’s pretty tough as an entrepreneur, you just want to get on with it,” complains Manfred. He says he hates bureaucracy. Although that doesn’t stop him. “If you’re interested in the capital, then of course you have to be willing to do that.”