Building an innovative, resilient and competitive deep tech industry

How to succeed in deep tech

Last year, the EIT Deep Tech Talent Initiative participated in a conference in Sweden, dedicated to the topic of “Deep Tech Entrepreneurship for an Innovative, Resilient, and Competitive Internal Market” The report published by Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency, highlights the conference key takeaway, namely, that that deep tech holds the promise to contribute to some of the biggest societal and environmental challenges.

However, while Europe possesses much of the required knowledge, there are other areas that need to be addressed to become competitive in the global landscape, as was emphasised by Martin Karn, Director at the EIT, and Johan Stahre, Professor, Chair of Production Systems, Head of Division at Chalmers University of Technology.

Deep Tech: The 4th wave of innovation

Source: Massimo Portincaso & BCG_Hello_Tomorrow_Great-Wave.pdf (

In his keynote speech, Massimo Portincaso, Chairman of the Advisory Board at Hello Tomorrow, suggested that deep tech represents the fourth wave of innovation, complementing and extending previous innovation waves (design, engineering, advanced science) and technologies (matter and energy, computation and cognition, sensing and actuation).

While deep tech ventures rely on unique knowledge and intellectual assets, it is unlikely that many problems or challenges will be solved by a single venture. This means that exploiting deep tech-based inventions and opportunities requires a systemic approach based on coordination and collaboration between investors, academia, entrepreneurs, corporations, and governments.

Source: Massimo Portincaso & BCG_Hello_Tomorrow_Great-Wave.pdf (

Key challenges for Europe

The conference presented several key challenges that Europe is facing in its endeavour to lead the deep tech innovation wave:

  • Fragmentation hinders progress: From research to industrialisation, deep tech solutions rely on a deeply interconnected network of stakeholders with aligned goals to drive innovation. However, fostering these collaborations is a significant challenge due to Europe’s fragmented ecosystem.
  • Investment disparity threatens growth: Deep tech is critical for corporate growth in Europe, but the growing gap in corporate R&D investment, compared to the US, poses a huge obstacle. 60% of the gap (both in growth and return on investment) is driven by deep tech, according to McKinsey’s “Securing Europe’s competitiveness: Addressing its technology gap” (McKinsey Global Institute, 2022).
  • Inability to translate scientific expertise into commercial success: Europe is falling behind in many key technology areas despite being a scientific superpower because it is unable to translate its academic strengths into commercial and industrial success to the same extent as the US.
  • Capital market limitations: The European capital market falls short when it comes to meeting the substantial financial needs that deep tech ventures require to scale and industrialise. Additionally, existing capital supply structures are not sufficiently well adapted to support the long, intricate innovation journeys deep tech ventures face.
  • Undervaluing intellectual assets: Intellectual assets are not currently regarded as the business and financial assets that they should be. Strategies and operations aimed at capturing, claiming, controlling and managing intellectual assets are key to deep tech venture success, a fact overlooked in current practices.

These challenges can be filed into one of three categories: Ecosystem, Finance, and Intellectual Property (IP) Asset Management.

Reaching hidden talent to address the IP gap

Raising awareness and improving skills in the strategic management of intellectual assets among ecosystem stakeholders is crucial for advancing European IP strategies and practices.

To achieve this, a focused approach on skilling, upskilling, and reskilling is essential. An approach that utilises current talent but also mines a wider, more inclusive and diverse network of untapped tech talent.

How can this be achieved?

To ensure that future deep tech professionals are equipped with the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of intellectual property, ‘Strategic Management of Intellectual Assets’ should be integrated as a mandatory subject and an optional advanced course in education and training programmes across various disciplines, including research, engineering, law, economics, entrepreneurship, and business administration.

Efforts must also be directed in raising awareness, knowledge and the practice of strategically managing intellectual assets with deep tech venture teams through the provision of targeted training programmes and resources, which will help them use their intellectual capital, and drive innovation and competitiveness in the market. This will in

Focusing on training initiatives will help unlock the full potential of the talent pool, creating a dynamic and resilient innovation network.

How the EIT Deep Tech Talent Initiative is tackling the challenge

There is a wealth of talent available, but only in an inclusive and diverse network untapped talent can be found.

The EIT Deep Tech Talent Initiative is addressing this talent gap by being the first European Initiative developing a deep tech talent pool and providing deep tech courses delivered by Pledge members to skill, reskill and upskill one million people by 2025.

Where can I find the report?

You can download the Vinnova report here.

As Pledgers, what steps can you take to address these issues and help the Deep Tech Talent Initiative train one million talents by 2025?