On the 19th and 20th of February 2020, 32 startups had the opportunity to accelerate their business in collaboration with AB InBev, the world’s leading brewer and one of Europe’s biggest food and drinks companies. AB InBev opened the doors of its Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITEC) in Leuven, Belgium to 32 SMEs supported and selected by the European Innovation Council (EIC).

Nearly 100 senior leaders within AB InBev welcomed the attending startups and scaleups providing innovative technologies in circular economy, smart energy, urban mobility, and digital solutions. The event was part of the EIC’s focus on accelerating SMEs by facilitating collaborations between startups and large businesses.

It was fitting that such an event took place in the Global Technology and Innovation Center (GITEC), located in its secure facility at AB InBev’s Global Headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. In GITEC, more than 120 scientists and specialists work diligently to create and deliver winning innovation and technologies. This AB InBev team collaborates with multiple partners across the globe to continuously develop new raw and packaging materials, improve processes and brew new innovative and high-quality products for consumers.

Cybelle Buyck, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs for AB InBev in Europe commented on the event: “We are thrilled that with the EIC we can bring these startups together, which in turn brings bright ideas and further collaboration. This isn’t just beneficial for us, but for many companies in Europe and the wider enterprise ecosystem. This way we can all continue to innovate, improve and be even more competitive in the future.”

“With an event like this, we’re turning ideas into reality,” said Jean-David Malo, Director of the EIC. “Financial means are not enough in today’s market, we also offer ‘smart money’; other means for our startups to scale up. In this aspect, contact with large businesses is crucial. It is a win-win situation: the startups can create cooperation and connections, while the business can identify new emerging technologies.”

Bart Grieten, Vice President of Supply for AB InBev in Europe: “We are building a company to last for the next 100+ years and we know that sustainable, long-term growth needs collaboration. We are proud to partner with European institutions like the EIC, which supports top-class innovators in scaling up ideas that will shape the industry of the future. Today has been an energizing day of learning, knowledge sharing and forging new connections and we’re excited about the way forward.”

Thanks to AB InBev’s partnership with Dream Tech Alliance, representatives from other major companies, including IBM, SAP, Keyrus, Microsoft, Orange, and Salesforce, as well as invitees from P&G, Nestlé and Unilever were also present to forge new connections with SMEs.

Nicolas Verschelden, Managing Partner of the Dream Tech Alliance at AB InBev added: “We are very humbled that our partners from the Dream Tech Alliance and other major players from the FMCG industry joined us today. Together we envision to bring innovation to the next level and create a stronger and more competitive innovation landscape in Europe.”