Béatrice de Mahieu is an entrepreneur and strategy consultant who focuses on coaching and mentoring start-ups and scaleups in their growth strategy. Her passion for open innovation and experience as the former CEO of Co.Station have positioned her as a leading figure in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Now taking on the role of director at the esteemed coding school BeCode, Béatrice continues to empower the next generation of coders and drive innovation forward.
Join us as we dive into Béatrice’s vision on the future of entrepreneurship, and her commitment to create a shared future powered by collaboration and open innovation.
Béatrice, what is the most striking evolution or important development that you have seen in the past 10 years in the Belgian or European entrepreneurial ecosystem?
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that collaboration is key to success.
Companies have realized that working together in consortiums or ecosystems is crucial to finding innovative solutions. Initiatives at the regional and national levels have encouraged companies to work on use cases and develop solutions together. This shift towards collaboration is a positive trend that allows companies to tackle social problems collectively.
What are your thoughts on the current innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem? Is there room for improvement?
I have a positive view of the current ecosystem, but there is still room for improvement, especially in collaborations between private companies and public sector players.
While private companies are increasingly open to working together and sharing resources, collaborations with public sector players remain challenging. Governmental bodies often operate in silos, lacking experience in open innovation and the ability to build bridges between agencies. The ROI mindset also seems to be less prevalent in the public sector, which can hinder innovation. However, I believe that with more openness and a focus on cost-benefit analysis and impact, the government can improve its collaboration efforts.
What can we do to make the enterprising ecosystem in Belgium or in Europe stronger in the future?
I think we should focus on stimulating people to take risks. This encouragement should start from an early age, where we need to foster an entrepreneurial mindset. Currently, we don’t do enough to motivate young people to step out of their comfort zones and create something new. The fear of failure and the fear of being criticized for it hinder our progress.
Additionally, it’s disheartening that the support system for self-employed individuals or employees is not as robust as it should be. We often observe a societal perception that independence implies dishonesty or excessive wealth, which does not inspire people to take risks. We need to change this perception and create an environment where risk-taking is encouraged and failure is seen as a learning opportunity. Moreover, promoting critical thinking skills is crucial.
How important do you think ESG and impact will be in the coming decade?
ESG and impact are becoming increasingly important, not only as a result of regulations but also for brand perception and talent acquisition. Companies that implement concrete and tangible ESG policies and actions, rather than just stating their importance, gain positive employer branding and attract employees and business partners who prioritize sustainability.
In addition to the continuously expanding ESG focused regulation, limited partners in investment funds increasingly take impact criteria into account, forcing investment funds to become more strict in assessing impact alongside growth. This transition aligns with the changing mindset of young professionals who seek purposeful work and want to contribute to a greater cause.
What interesting trends do you currently see in the tech sector, such as AI?
AI is a hot topic, and many discussions revolve around its potential impact on jobs. While some jobs may be replaced by AI for repetitive tasks, other roles, particularly those requiring physical or healthcare-related skills, will likely remain resilient. It is important to realize that AI is an intelligence substitute, and human intelligence still holds great value in interpreting and critiquing AI-generated outcomes. Ensuring the accuracy and appropriateness of AI-generated code and output for example is and will stay a critical task that requires human oversight.
Are there any other technologies currently sparking your curiosity?
I strongly believe that technology should make life easier for people. The applications of technology in sectors like healthcare and industry can enable people to perform difficult or dangerous tasks, which is truly remarkable.
Metaverse: While I initially had reservations about the concept of the metaverse, I am a firm believer in augmented reality and its practical applications. Augmented reality can be instrumental in training for hazardous situations, such as firefighting or military operations, as well as in educational environments. However, I disagree with the idea of creating a parallel world in which our children would spend excessive amounts of time, as I believe it is important for them to remain grounded in the real world.
Lab meat: With my nutritionist’s degree in food science, obtained ten years ago, I see the potential benefits of lab-grown meat, especially in countries with severe nutrition challenges. At the same time, countries facing difficulties often have a significant livestock population. However, this livestock is primarily intended for meat production, utilizing agricultural resources to feed animals rather than directly addressing food scarcity for people. This creates a complex situation we should be aware of.
If you were to start your career today, where would you like to work?
I am genuinely content with my entire career, but if I were to embark on a new professional journey, I have two areas of interest. Firstly, I have always had a fascination with politics, particularly in the realm of education. I envision myself working towards a complete overhaul of the education system, dividing it into more effective and tailored components. Secondly, and something totally out of the box, I am also intrigued by the prospect of winegrowing.
Why did you like working with Cresco?
Working with Cresco was a highly satisfying experience. The collaboration was characterized by its speed and efficiency. One aspect that impressed me was Cresco’s deep understanding of both the legal and business aspects of innovation and technology. It can be challenging to find a legal firm that comprehends the intricacies of a business model from A to Z without extensive explanations. However, Cresco quickly grasped the nuances and was swift to join forces. They were open-minded, direct, and focused in their approach, which I greatly appreciated.
Additionally, when we delved into the concept of ecosystems, a novel idea that required a unique contractual framework with rules of engagement, Cresco showcased their creativity. They were receptive to new models and did not adhere to a traditional lawyer’s mindset that views every potential issue as a hurdle. Instead, they understood the need to take calculated risks and strike a balance between innovation and legally sound agreements.