- Founders: Frank Melis
- Founded in: 2016
- Employees: 12
- Money raised: -
- Ultimate goal: Delivering an AI / Machine Learning-driven platform to close the skills gap and create new jobs to transform the economy
Many companies are very concerned about the labor market’s personnel shortage. This year, the deficit is expected to increase further. The deep tech sector in particular will run into further problems. “The fish pond in the Netherlands is empty. It’s time for global sourcing,” says Frank Melis, CEO of SMRT.bio. In this instalment of Start-up of the day, he talks about his AI-powered, virtual meeting place for job seekers and employers worldwide.
Whether it concerns IT, machine learning or blockchain: deep tech will play an increasingly important role in the world of today and tomorrow. A large pool of tech personnel is essential to be able to achieve both the digital and the green transition. In the Netherlands, tech giants such as ASML, as well as SMEs, are eagerly looking for skilled employees. However, these employees are hard to find and do not just appear out of the blue.
“Especially small entrepreneurs – by far the largest group of entrepreneurs in the Netherlands – lack an efficient infrastructure to find and retain future staff,” says Melis. SMRT.bio offers a solution for this group in particular. And with a view to deep tech in particular, the company also recently launched DeepTechTalentInitiative.eu.
Connected, without hassle
“We are sometimes referred to as the Tinder app of the labor market,” Melis jokes. “People looking for a job can profile themselves in no time on our platform. They indicate their passions, competencies and skills. This is done through a game where they swipe left or right. Afterwards, they can also see in which respects they are not yet sufficiently developed to get their ideal job. Our platform then provides the best training plan.”
Employers can place a call on the platform free of charge in often less than fifteen minutes. “We built a library with 26,000 job descriptions. Is an employer looking for a welder? He or she will then indicate this on the platform. Next, the platform generates the job descriptions and the competence and passion profiles. All of this is done fully automatically by means of algorithms and machine learning.” There is no shortage of efficiency.
From the Netherlands to South Africa
Over the past few years, more than 30,000 employers and employees from all over the world have been connected through the platform. “We are active in the Netherlands, Poland, but also in Asia and South Africa. A good thing is that people who previously had limited access to the labor market are being involved. For example, before the war broke out in Ukraine, we saw many women from Ukraine become active on the platform.” Many of them wanted to develop themselves into entrepreneurs. “That makes me very happy.”
“Just like the fact that jobseekers in Africa can now easily connect themselves to the labor market. Think about it: 600 million people in Africa have a smartphone. This gives them a gateway to work and education. We can reach them with our platform.”
Helping regions move forward
The HR platform not only offers a helping hand to employers and job seekers, but ultimately entire regions as well. Melis: Based on the data that is generated, a clear overview emerges of what is happening in the labor market. Local authorities and governments can benefit from this information.
As an example, Melis mentions the branch of education. “If the educational institutions know what specific skills are needed on the labor market, they can respond to this by developing new courses.” Regions can also be helped where, for example, a major player in the labor market receives large numbers of CVs, but where small employers have difficulty finding the right people. SMRT.bio is then able to present other vacancies from the region to the applicants so that all employers are helped. “And we can sometimes even offer a better alternative to applicants who are rejected for the chosen position.”
SMRT.bio is currently working towards the ultimate goal: “In 7 years time we will be in 300 regions in Europe”, Melis assures. The first steps in the right direction have already been taken. The company entered into a partnership with the European Commission, as well as with the OECD, an organization dedicated to promoting economic development and global trade.
In the near future, the goal will be to overcome obstacles. This is how the company must manage to hold its own in the fragmented investment landscape. “At the moment, a lot of money is still being invested at a local, national, and European level in small-scale projects. That’s a shame – you can’t develop a successful platform for €300,000 anymore,” Melis says.
“If we want to take steps in digitization and the energy transition in Europe, if we want to create millions of new jobs, then we have to invest on a large scale in a platform with reach. Size matters. I am convinced we can be that platform.”