Interested in applying for Cohort Four? Watch this space…



Harnessing the Power of PR for Startups

In the race to secure funding, track down the best talent, and stand out on a limited budget, dedicating precious energy and resources to public relations might not top the startup to-do list. But what if we told you this is a rookie error? That a PR and content strategy should be a priority, with the power to move the dial on the above and more? With no legacy to lean on, PR and content marketing can help to raise your startup’s profile and establish a competitive edge; shaping how people see your brand, making them care about your mission and vision, attracting top employees and investors, and building trust and credibility with customers. But where to begin? Whether you’re already in the know or just getting started, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you get the ball rolling with PR and content marketing for your startup. FAQs What is a press release? A press release is a written communication that shares newsworthy company statements or updates with the media. The ingredients: a snappy headline, concise and compelling copy, a clear message, and engaging quotes. What is a press kit? This is an essential tool to help stakeholders better understand your company. A good press kit includes a range of assets that share more about your mission, product/services, team, coverage, social media, and much more. What is a pitch note? In order to secure press coverage, you’ve first got to grab journalists’ attention – this is where a punchy media pitch comes in, laying out: What’s the proposed story? What points would it cover? Why is it of interest? And why now? What is an op-ed? This is a 600–800-word piece that shares your point of view on a newsworthy topic which relates to your company’s mission, vision, or values. It should be opinionated, informative, evidence-backed, and not overly self-promotional. What are trade publications? And which should we target? These are niche publications that share sector-specific news for a target audience of industry stakeholders. Focus on the outlets that your specific stakeholders read and those that publish similar stories to the one you’re pitching. Guiding principles It’s all about the narrative When you’ve spent years developing a product, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds of technical details when trying to engage stakeholders. Though important, these complexities aren’t going to resonate with a broad audience. To cut through the noise and grab attention, you need to develop an authentic and engaging narrative that communicates your unique values, mission, and vision. Next, you need to weave this messaging through everything from your press kit to your pitch notes to help your startup stand out. Diversity and consistency are key Beyond your origin story, it’s important to garner a following around your startup’s evolving story. So, once you’ve nailed your narrative, you want to get your company’s offering in front of as many eyes as possible – generating buzz, maximising visibility, and reaching new audiences. This can

By |June 24th, 2024|
  • Fundraising in a challenging climate

The Innovation Funding Landscape: Is the ‘VC Winter’ Set to Thaw?

Last year saw a sharp drop in global venture capital funding for startups, with Crunchbase finding a five-year low in VC activity in 2023. Manufacturing was one of the higher performing industries in terms of investment, seeing less than a 20% drop, but the sector still experienced a year-on-year fall in funding. Is this the new normal? How can manufacturing startups maintain a competitive edge to secure funding? What are the technologies and innovations that will bring investors back? These are some of the pressing questions we explored at the Sixth Sense Summit in London earlier this year, including during a roundtable session on how to fundraise in a challenging climate. Participants in that discussion included Jean-Laurent Pelissier, Managing Director, Head of Enterprise Software at HSBC Innovation Banking UK – a subsidiary of HSBC which supports the innovation economy, providing commercial banking services, expertise and insights to the technology, life science and healthcare, private equity and venture capital industries. We spoke to him to find out more about what the future fundraising landscape may hold. What was behind the worldwide drop in VC funding across all industries last year? What impact did this have on the innovation economy? Jean-Laurent Pelissier: I think 2023 was a reset year for the VC industry and the innovation ecosystem. People had to get comfortable with new valuations and new ways of operating, with a much greater focus on efficiency. When the markets took a dive in 2022, we saw a lot of companies pause and rethink how to manage their business and boost efficiency. We also saw investors re-evaluate how to value companies and become cautious about deploying funding, focusing equity on existing portfolios instead. However, I think this has now stabilised. Are you optimistic about the future of startup fundraising? Can we expect 2024 to see a marked improvement or are we in a ‘new normal’?  Jean-Laurent Pelissier: I don’t think last year is where we're going to be forever. From an economic perspective there's more stability (at least in Europe and the US) with more bullishness from investors to deploy funds and some early green shoots of positivity in the public market [IPO markets reportedly showed early signs of recovery at the end of Q1 this year].  So from what we're seeing on the market, I am cautiously optimistic for 2024 – I expect to see more activity. In terms of the new normal, I think companies are coming to terms with embracing valuation resets. We saw companies listing in the public markets demonstrate this approach, which I think reflects the broader ecosystem’s new reality. When this trickles through I think we’ll see more funding rounds. Forbes recently listed 3D printing, smart factories, sustainability, advanced materials, AI and blockchain as the top six innovative opportunities for manufacturing startups. Do you agree this is what investors are looking for? Jean-Laurent Pelissier: Against the backdrop of companies needing to become leaner and more efficient, I think AI is going to become increasingly important. Many

By |May 24th, 2024|
  • Milan Kocic at the stage of the Sixth Sense Summit 2024 in London

One Plus One Equals Three: Reflections on Sixth Sense’s Third Cohort

Sixth Sense is all about looking to the horizon and around corners, exploring the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. But that’s not to say we don’t also recognise the need to look back from time to time to reflect on what we’ve achieved so far. No different from the learning journey of our Sixth Sense startups, each cohort teaches us something new, serving as a vital jumping-off point to iterate, optimise, and evolve — taking the programme to the next level.  So as our third challenge focused on sustainability and digital reality in manufacturing draws to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect on our third cohort – Zaptic, Flexxbotics, Acerta, Launchpad, RVmagnetics, TOffeeX, Dessia, and Rafinex – as well as the dynamic Sixth Sense Summit in London this year. We sat down with Milan Kocic, the head of Sixth Sense, to get his take on the key learnings, reflections, and insights from our third pioneering programme and what’s in store for the next chapter.   What are your main reflections from the third cohort?   Milan: At Sixth Sense, we use this “one plus one equals three” expression to underline how we help Hexagon and startups join forces to create more value for both companies and for customers.  Our third cohort exemplified this approach more than ever, with many of the startups embracing the programme’s core purpose: connecting the dots between Hexagon and their transformative solutions—building a joint idea.  Sandy Reid, Zaptic’s CEO and co-founder, underscored this at the Sixth Sense Summit, highlighting how Sixth Sense opened doors to explore synergies between Zaptic’s technology and Hexagon’s manufacturing solutions.  We’re now looking for ways to lay the foundations for these strong connections from day one; hosting a pre-cohort pitch day to get to know cohort members better, as well as improving post-cohort efforts to create better value for both Hexagon and startups afterwards.   What kind of impact has Sixth Sense had over the last few years?   Milan: I think the best ratification of Sixth Sense’s impact is the fact that many different divisions within Hexagon are now asking to launch their own cohorts. There's also a great deal of interest from inside the organisation about many of our start-ups and where there might be opportunities for collaboration.  This has been exemplified by the number of partnerships our finalists from across the cohorts are forging between Hexagon and other industry leaders.  One of note is the landmark partnership between Hexagon and the winner of our second cohort, GelSight. Another is that of ETQ – a part of Hexagon and the leader in enterprise quality management solutions – and Augmentir, also from our second cohort.  Interest in our cohort members’ technology shows in other ways, too, with cohort two members Threedy securing $10.4 million in a recent Series A investment round and CASTOR landing a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority.    What makes Sixth Sense different from other accelerator programmes?   Milan: I think Sixth Sense’s point of

By |May 2nd, 2024|

From Bias to Balance: Empowering Women in Manufacturing

Despite progress made in recent years, women are still underrepresented in the manufacturing industry. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, published by the World Economic Forum, women account for around 32% of the global manufacturing workforce. The proportion is even lower in engineering roles, as found in the 2021 UNESCO Science report, especially in fields driving the fourth industrial revolution, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and more. As a result, women are missing out on well-paid jobs of the future, and the manufacturing industry is struggling to keep pace with the substantial demand for STEM talent. This issue was discussed at a roundtable held at the recent Sixth Sense Summit titled Improving Female Representation in Manufacturing. It brought together experts from the field of manufacturing and technology – Russ Shaw CBE, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, Marion Rouzeaud, Global Sustainability Director at Hexagon, Madlen Nicolaus, Chief Marketing Officer at Hexagon AB, Melan Kocic, Head of Sixth Sense, Hanadi Jabado, Managing Partner at Sana Capital, Kate Willsher, COO at IFM Engage, Zoi Roupakia, Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, Elizabeth Donnolly, Chief Executive Officer at Women's Engineering Society, Neo (Mkwebane) Chatyoka, Founder at Uhuru Botanicals, Eleanor Baker, Women Entrepreneurs Programme Lead at Inclusive Business by Lloyds Banking Group, Anne Marieke Ezendam, Co-Founder and CEO at SigniGene, Suki Fuller, Co-Lead at Tech London Advocates Women in Tech and Natalia Campanero, Entrepreneur in Residence Programme Manager at the Royal Society. In this article, we have shared some of the insights we gathered on why the gender gap in manufacturing and technology persists and consider the strategies that could bridge this gap by empowering women and fostering inclusivity.   Navigating the challenges: roadblocks to diversity   Attracting diverse talent in manufacturing has been a longstanding challenge. Outdated stereotypes of production – often associated with manual labour rather than advanced technology – have proved persistent, and the industry has not always catered to graduates, particularly women. Modern manufacturing is nonetheless entering a new industrial revolution driven by cutting-edge digital technology. It requires highly skilled workers to operate state-of-the-art machines and design innovative products that keep up with rapid technological advancement. One reason for the lack of awareness of this positive shift is the failure to communicate the value of opportunities in the industry to a wide audience. According to the Advancing Women in Manufacturing report by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, more than half of women who applied for jobs in manufacturing learned about the job from their family and friends. Word of mouth may be an effective type of recruitment, but it often replicates the primarily male profile of the current workforce. A lack of female role models has also acted as a deterrent, particularly among engineers. Try a simple test – search for “engineer” pictures online, and you will mostly see images of men. Public perception of the job still holds on to outdated notions, limiting diversity and hampering the industry's

By |March 8th, 2024|

I attended the Sixth Sense summit – here’s what I learned

Hexagon's Manufacturing Intelligence Natalie Tellis-James attended the Sixth Sense Summit this year – read her insights below. Walking into London’s CodeNode for the Sixth Sense summit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Although we’ve never promoted giving the start-ups a cash prize, I still half expected to see Milan Kocic, Head of the Sixth Sense programme, standing on stage holding a supersized cheque, but that couldn’t be further from what happened. I arrived at 14:30. The main event wasn’t due to start for another hour, but the room was already filling up, humming with conversation. Each of the eight start-ups had a small stand with literature and products, so I walked around to try to get myself more familiar with what was to come. The room we were in was surrounded by impressive glass offices, each filled with people deep in discussion. Round tables were underway, covering a mix of topics like improving the representation of women in manufacturing and supporting CSR initiatives in a challenging climate. The topic of sustainability featured heavily throughout the day. Each cohort is challenged with a specific topic at the start of the programme, for cohort three this was “Building a sustainable manufacturing future” and “Smart digital reality for collaborative manufacturing.” Time for the main event. I got myself seated and awaited the arrival of the panel of judges, familiar faces from across Hexagon, hand-selected because they know our business and solutions offering inside out. Lights, camera, action! Each of the cohorts had four minutes to pitch their idea to the judges. Four minutes!! Just about enough time to make a cup of tea in my household. Each of the eight told their story, the gap in the market they could fill and how our support can help them. Again, not talking about money – the winner is promised our time, our resources, our knowledge base – all more valuable than a single cash sum. What stuck out to me during each of the eight pitches is how well-connected we already were. It felt like we were already working with the solutions, there was a clear connection between what our division stands for, what it’s trying to achieve and the mechanics we use to do so. It felt like they were part of us, progressing our message and highlighting real-life impacts for our customers. I sat listening, glad I wasn’t on the judging panel with the impossible task of choosing one company to continue a relationship with. In fact, this seems it wasn’t a possibility for the panel either, who at the end of the day announced joint winners Zaptic and Flexxbotics and runner-up Acerta. This wasn’t the only surprise for the day as Milan took to the stage to announce a new Global Partnership with Hexagon and GelSight, Winner of Sixth Sense cohort two, further proving the opportunities for winners are endless. So what’s next? The cohort winners will have access to our extensive resources, global footprint and our comprehensive products and solutions to help them

By |February 22nd, 2024|

Who won the Sixth Sense Summit?

Sixth Sense Summit: Exploring the manufacturing innovations of the future From mass production to 3D printing, bottlenecks to blockchain, and automation to autonomy – making is not what it used to be. The fourth industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0 – is well underway, and with seismic technological, economic and societal shifts ongoing, the manufacturing industry is at the forefront. And it was the future of manufacturing that was on display at the Sixth Sense Summit, held in London on February 7th – through a pitching competition to determine the winner of this year’s Sixth Sense programme, a technology exhibition, and a series of discussions with industry leaders. Over the past three months, eight startups in our third cohort have been working alongside leaders in Hexagon’s manufacturing intelligence division to evolve their ground-breaking solutions to help solve some of the sector’s biggest challenges – specifically, how we drive a more sustainable future. The prize for the winner? An exciting opportunity to partner with Hexagon on developing a joint solution, leveraging both organisations’ technology.   Announcing our winners After a high-quality set of pitches in front of a live audience of 150 entrepreneurs, experts and industry leaders, Acerta was announced as our runner-up, with Zaptic and Flexxbotics chosen as the joint winners. With Flexxbotics’ technology enabling robot-driven manufacturing for tomorrow’s autonomous industry, Zaptic’s connected worker platform empowering frontline worker productivity, and Acerta’s predictive quality solution providing line engineers with invaluable real-time analytics and insights – their solutions are pivotal to building a smart, sustainable and collaborative manufacturing future. Our thanks and congratulations also go to all of the other fantastic cohort three members: ToffeeX, RVmagnetics, Rafinex, Dessia, and Launchpad – these companies exemplify the power of technology as a force for good and we very much look forward to continuing working together.   Addressing industry challenges and finding opportunities In addition to the pitching finale, the summit also explored some of the manufacturing industry’s key opportunities and challenges, through a series of roundtables that explored female representation in the sector, the fundraising landscape for startups, and how we scale spin-outs to maximise innovation; as well as a main stage panel discussion on the innovations driving manufacturing to net zero. Building on Sixth Sense’s legacy of connecting the next generation of innovators with Hexagon’s industry-leading technology – such as the recent partnership between cohort two member Augmentir and ETQ – this summit saw another powerful partnership announced, this time between Hexagon and GelSight, the winner of the second cohort.   What comes next Sixth Sense is about seeing round corners – identifying solutions where others may not, to solve humanity’s biggest challenges. After yet another successful Sixth Sense programme, we want to thank our incredible third cohort for their dedication and ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries in manufacturing. The third Sixth Sense challenge may now be over, but true to our mission, we already have our sights set on the horizon with our next programme. If you’re interested in tackling tomorrow’s challenges

By |February 14th, 2024|
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