Corporate Europe is landing in Silicon Valley to boost Innovation

Mind the Bridge launched today in San Francisco the first Report on the European Innovation Outposts in Silicon Valley (with a “Who’s Who” Directory).
44 companies tracked: Germany and France most represented, UK follows.
46% opted for a lean presence, Automotive; Telecom and Fintech the most represented industries.


Europe is seriously looking at Silicon Valley for boosting its ability to innovate, with Germany and France leading the rank. This is what emerged from the Report “European Innovation Outposts in Silicon Valley” launched today in San Francisco by Mind the Bridge, the Silicon Valley/European innovation advisory firm. The occasion is the official launch of the third edition of Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley (SEC2SV) that will bring together in September the most relevant founders, corporates, investors, and policy-makers from the EU entrepreneurial ecosystem and Silicon Valley.

“European startups are increasingly focused on global markets from their early stages – Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, European Commission – The EU is open to international investment and cooperation: interacting with Silicon Valley is important for the Digital Single Market to have a global impact.”

This analysis is the first of its kind: the Report analyzed in-depth all the European corporates that have set an innovation outpost (at least one full time person in the Bay Area dedicated to innovation) in Silicon Valley and tracked 44 companies: almost 50% of the outposts were established after 2010, more than one third of them have opened in the last 3 years and many other corporations are lined up to launch their own outpost this year.

“Innovation outposts in Silicon Valley have the potential to allow companies to make significant technological advances and offer a direct competitive advantage Marco Marinucci, CEO Mind the Bridge commented – That’s why it is fundamental to learn from the corporates that are more ahead of the game as well as the corporates that have restructured their presence in the Bay Area.”

Corporate presence varies in goal, size and depth of operations. 46% of the companies have opted for a lean presence, in the form of either a Corporate Innovation Antenna (a person or a 2-3 people team in a co-working space) and/or a CVC-Corporate Venture Capital Office. The other 54% have chosen a more structured presence either in the form of Corporate Innovation Lab (a 10-25 people group) or an R&D Center (an extensive 50-100+ people team with dedicated vertical research teams). Trends reporting, technology scouting (for investment, acquisition or co-development), startup acceleration, and MVP/prototyping are the key drivers of a presence in the Valley.

EU Corp Outposts in SV

“An easy access to understand ‘Who’s Who’ and a better understanding of the objectives and opportunities those outposts offer, can be beneficial for both the companies and the community they are trying to engage Alberto Onetti, Chairman of Mind the Bridge added – This is the space we are trying to create. Obviously it is still a work in progress, whose refinement will require the participation of the increasingly connected community of European-friendly organizations located in the Bay Area. Initiatives such as Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley (SEC2SV) provide a natural platform where information and business opportunities can flow freely across the pond.”

GEOGRAPHY – Going into details, the Report showed that Germany and France are by far the countries with the most representation in the Bay Area: 15 (34%) outposts have been settled by German corporations, while 13 (30%) come from France. UK is third in this ranking with 5 outposts (11%), while the remaining 11 outposts are originated from companies from 6 countries (2 from Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, and The Netherlands, while Finland accounts for 1).

SECTORS –  In terms of industries, Automotive is the most represented (8 outposts, 19% of the total). The percentage increases to 20% if we also include Aeronautics/Aerospace. Telecom and Finance services (Banking and Insurance) companies have also invested significantly in Silicon Valley: 7 innovation centers of European telcos as well as banks and insurance companies (each representing 16% of the total) are listed. Energy is another well represented industry with 5 companies (11% of the total) and other sectors follow (Life Science/Pharmaceutical/Chemicals, Software, Consulting with 2/3 outposts each).

LOCATIONS – 14 outposts (32% of the total) are based in San Francisco. This data seems to confirm the ongoing shift to the City and its growing “centrality” in Silicon Valley. 26 outposts (59%) are located down in the Valley: only 4 (9%) of these are in the San Mateo County, while 22 (50%) are more south, from Palo Alto to San Josè. The most typical places of choice are Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale (5 outposts each). 4 outposts (9%) are located in East Bay (Berkeley, Emeryville, Fremont, and Pleasanton in Alameda County).

outposts_pics-01-09POSITIONING MATRIX – The Report tried to map the different approaches the European corporates have followed in shaping their presence in Silicon Valley. The outcome is represented in the Positioning Matrix. The factors determining the positioning choice of the corporate outposts are the main goals the corporates aim to reach in the Bay Area (ranging from range from Trend reporting/exposure/ education to Acceleration, co-development via POC (proof of concepts), Procurement and licensing, Investments and Acquisitions) as well as the type of establishment they have currently chosen.

“It’s obviously a simplified representation built upon the information available of the current situation – the Authors point out – We plan to constantly monitor the trends in order to consider new countries and exits as well as evolution in terms of positioning. We expect some corporates to move from the left-hand side of the matrix towards more central and upper positions.”

WHO’s WHO – Detailed information about each outpost are included in the Directory of Corporate Innovation Outposts attached to the Report. The Directory will be updated on a regular basis by Mind the Bridge with the inputs of the stakeholders. The Directory is intended as an “open source” tool, and Mind the Bridge welcomes inputs from the community.