Step 5: Final Business Plan
The objective of this step is to develop a second draft of the business plan (including financial part). After a commitment from higher management to pursue full development of the proposal, an in-depth assessment of the initiative needs to be conducted, including the development of an investment plan (including the discussions with internal and external financers). For the completion of this step, several additional element need to be assessed and explored.
Firstly, the science and technology concept should be developed. The technology concept should make the connection between the (science & technology) innovation concept and the business. The technology concept should also showcase the added value of sharing expertise, infrastructure and joining activities.
Secondly, as the brokerage services offered by DIHs should be explored. Brokerage supports interaction at different levels, matches parties to technologies, and provides information to the network. As brokerage may be provided for financial services, it is important that the brokerage is organized prior to the development of the financial part of the business plan and the second assessment of the business services/models.
Thirdly, the organization and governance of the DIH should be outlined. This is has an important impact on financial issues, since it addresses participation, contributions from partners, cost of personnel, infrastructure, etc.
Fourthly, Based on the information collected in all of the preceding steps, the DIH needs to define a multi-annual financial plan, with an overview of revenues resulting from the services, and the costs . Based on the overview of costs and revenues, the potential financing gap for the DIH should be identified and a strategy to fill this gap should be formulated.
In order to close the financing gap, the DIH needs to assess different funding sources, including debt, equity, and public financing as well as in-kind contributions. Combining all these funding sources is a challenging task for DIH but the DIH needs to ensure that all its activities are sufficiently funded.
In order to assist SMEs in crossing the ‘valley of death’, DIH could also provide information and assistance to SMEs related to access to finance. There are different ways in which DIH could assist SMEs, including through brokerage in the form of business advice, matching activities to investors, and providing links to important national and European funding programs.
Finally, all these elements need to be discussed with the partners and investors and included in the second draft of the business plan.