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Press Release

Launch of the Digital Innovation and Scale-up Initiative

46% of startups incubated in the Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (CESEE) region raise financing from investors outside of Europe and move their base, most often leaving to the US and China. This highlights the substantial investment gap faced by digital innovations, a major bottleneck for startups, and the digital economy, in reaching full potential.

To address this investment gap in CESEE’s digital economy the European Commission (EC) together with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank (WB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched the Digital Innovation and Scale-up Initiative (DISC) during the Digital Assembly on June 14, 2019. Under the leadership of the Romanian EU Presidency the DISC initiative was launched at an investment round table with high level representatives of the Government of Croatia, Finland, Germany and Romania.

The initiative will develop a regional investment facility that specifically targets digital innovations and the scale-up of digital startups in the CESEE region.

DISC will focus on providing support to strategic future-oriented digital innovations and deep technology that are capital intensive, risky by nature and require longer-term financing (patient capital). In particular, the initiative will focus on the early stage and the scale-up of innovative startups and deep tech SMEs in the Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (CESEE) region. Specifically, it was agreed that DISC will explore potential funding structures and support mechanisms to leverage resources from the EU, international financial institutions, National Promotional Banks and the private sector in support of highly innovative startups and SMEs with higher risk profiles in the CESEE region.

What are DISC’s main objectives?

  • to develop a regional joint initiative supported by the EC, the EIB Group, the EBRD and the World Bank Group to leverage funding and competencies
  • to enhance financing and the access to advisory services for early stage and scale-up of innovative, high-risk deep tech startups with high growth potential;
  • to provide advisory support, connect innovators with investors, and enhance the visibility of digital champions though and Investment Support Program;
  • to offer technical assistance to public agencies to strengthen their capacity to design, develop and implement digital innovation programs;
  • to strengthen strategic investments in the enabling environment for digital innovations;
  • to connect digital innovation ecosystems across the region

What is the unique value of the DISC initiative?

  • Higher expected impact through collaboration between EC, the World Bank/IFC, EIB/EIF and EBRD;
  • Pooling of funding through joint investment facility;
  • Dedicated investment and technical assistant program specifically for CESEE region;
  • Targeted to support deep tech and disruptive technologies with high-growth potential;
  • Focus on the early stage and scale-up of highly innovative digital startups;
  • Comprehensive approach (investments, technical assistance and enabling environment);
  • Financial and technical assistance support for both public and private sector.

Background:

Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (CESEE) are at a critical point in their economic development. Since the early 2000s, CESEE countries have been the fastest growing countries in Europe and the region consistently ranks globally at very high levels in terms of educational achievements in math, science and technology. Recently, their convergence towards EU-15 countries has however slowed down due to the limitations of the existing economic model that has been predominately driven by the inflow of foreign direct investment with relatively low adoption rates for innovation.

The rapid rise of digital innovations and deep technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain provide unprecedented opportunities for the leapfrogging of CESEEs economies and can become a major engine for long-term economic growth. They are critical for fostering innovation, competitiveness, promoting sustainable economic development and addressing societal challenges.

Innovation can come from all corners of the world, and the CESEE region holds huge, but often underutilized potential for digital innovations. In fact, the success by UiPath, Prezi, Taxify and Avast are a few examples that demonstrate that innovation, creativity and grit can emerge and overcome the great odds, of challenging and less developed digital ecosystems in the region. Make no mistake, successful startups are not a monopoly product from established tech hubs such as Paris, Berlin or London.

At the same time, there are important barriers that are currently holding back digital entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential. First, there is a substantial investment gap for the scale-up of highly innovative deep tech companies and startups. Often, these companies are considered too risky for investors, however they hold the highest growth potential and thus require more targeted financing tools and attention. As such, beyond financing, there is also a need for technical assistance programs, which increase synergies and knowledge transfer, while strengthening the institutional capacity of public agencies to design, develop and implement digital innovation programs. Finally, there is a need to boost investment and enhance the enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, with a focus on cross border digital infrastructure and digital skills projects.

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Open Call to be part of the Boards for the new Horizon Europe Missions

Open Call for members of Startup Ecosystems to be part of the Boards for the new Horizon Europe Missions. Each Mission will have a budget of 1€ Billion. We have not got candidates from the startup ecosystems. We need YOU!!
Missions are a key novelty of Horizon Europe – the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027 (proposed budget €100bn). Missions will consist of portfolios of research and innovation projects at all Technology Readiness Levels, with a clear goal that matters for EU citizens. Mission contents still have to be defined, but examples could be: “A plastic-free ocean by 2030” or “100 carbon-neutral EU cities by 2030”. (see also https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/bold-science-meet-big-challenges-independent-report-calls-mission-oriented-eu-research-and-innovation-2018-feb-22_en).
At the moment, the EU political process has defined five Mission Areas:
1) Cancer;
2) Adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation; 
3) Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters;
4) Climate-neutral and smart cities;
5) Soil health and food.
 
Mission boards will advise the European Commission how to define and implement each Mission area. Mission board members will have complementary profiles, covering a wide range of scientific and non-scientific profiles, such as: research and innovation/academia; communication; public health; health policy; healthcare; SMEs; industry; non-governmental organisations; charities; philanthropy; foundations; citizen associations; young and/or experienced innovators; and investors, to mention a few.
The application process is straightforward:
1) Go to the Call for applications for the selection of members of the commission expert groups at this link: http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=calls.calls_for_app
2) Read the Call document (pdf), which explains more about missions and mission boards.
3) Send a CV, cover letter (any format), Annex I, II and III to RTD-HORIZON-EUROPE-MISSION-BOARDS@ec.europa.eu
4) It is possible to apply for more than one mission area, which will increase the chances to be selected (although, an individual can be member of one board only). In that case, we need the applicant to send us Annex II and Annex III for each mission area, as separate documents in the same email.
5) For any question, you can email RTD-HORIZON-EUROPE-MISSION-BOARDS@ec.europa.eu
The deadline for submission has been extended to June 16,2019 – 12:00Brussels time
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EIT Digital Challenge 2019

The EIT Digital Challenge takes place for the 6th consecutive year and is again looking for the most innovative European digital tech startups to help them grow internationally by connecting them to potential customers and/or investors. Startups in growth stage (scaleups) can apply in five categories: Digital Tech, Digital Industry, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing, and Digital Finance. The winners will gain international growth support totaling €750,000 in cash and in-kind.
What’s in it for me? 
25 companies will be invited to an exclusive event in Brussels to pitch in front of expert juries. The two best companies per category will gain 12 months support to scale up their business. The growth support is provided by the EIT Digital Accelerator team (no equity taken, no physical presence needed). On top of that, the first prize winner in each category receives a cash prize of €50,000 (no strings attached).
And last but not least: finalists and winners will a gain a lot of international visibility!
Who can apply?
Growth stage startups (scaleups) based in Europe (incl. associated H2020 countries), with a min. annual revenue of €300.000 or min. €2 million in equity investment, that are max 10 years old. Applications are open for the following categories: Digital Tech, Digital Industry, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing, and Digital Finance
How can I apply? 
You will find the online application form here: https://eitdigitalchallenge.submittable.com/submit (please register and then fill out the form)
When is the submission deadline?
The submission phase ends on 14 June 2019 (23:59:59)
Any questions?
Please contact the EIT Digital Challenge team at challenge@eitdigital.eu
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‘European Data Incubator’ is looking for experts in entrepreneurship/big data to become Startup Evaluators

The project ‘European Data Incubator’ (also funded under H2020) is looking for experts in entrepreneurship/big data, to become Startup Evaluators, from the end of June 2019.

You would be part of choosing the top 50 big data startups to take part in the next 8-month round of incubation.

What’s in it for you?

  • Play a key role in the selection of the brightest big data startups in Europe
  • Be reimbursed for your time and work in the evaluation process
  • Connect with up-and-coming figures in the big data community

Meet last year’s startups to get a better idea of the kind of innovative companies taking part in the European Data Incubator: https://edincubator.eu/startups-2018 

Apply by Wednesday, 29 May at 12 noon (CEST): Go to the F6S application form

Less than ten applications will be finally selected, ensuring an equal gender balance.

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Créme de la créme of European startups are heading to Prague in April to clash for the European Champ title

On April 10, 2019, at the Prague Congress Centre, the first ever European Continental Finals of the global competition Startup World Cup 2019  will be held as a part of the Startup World Cup & Summit (SWCSummit). The winner is about to win $ 500,000 USD investment prize and the title of the European Startup Champion. They will also gain entry to the global Grand Finale, which is to be held in Silicon Valley in May. Apart from the competition, the event will welcome keynote speakers from all over the world, including Apple’s first CMO, John Rizzo, the ex-VP of Instagram and CEO of Strava, James Quarles, the bestselling author and founder of Electronic Arts, Dave Evans, Avast CEO, Vince Steckler, and the billionaire Karel Janeček. Along with them the organisers expect dozens of angel investors, founders, and innovators from all around Europe. They will all be ready to network, provide guidance to fresh entrepreneurs, and look for new business opportunities.

 

Hundreds of up-and-coming startups are confirmed to attend SWCSummit, one of the most important events in the startup world in the Central Europe region this year. The goal is to find the European champion, create a talent network, draw the public’s attention to small businesses’ added value, and, most importantly, boost the European startup scene’s confidence. “Europe used to be an unshakeable cradle of innovation. Nowadays, despite Europe’s huge potential to retain its position, we feel momentum is shifting away. With this in mind, we see SWCSummit as an opportunity to spark new connections, investments, and ideas that can help Europe reclaim its reputation of the global innovation epicenter,” says Vít Šubert, the startup incubator UP21 CEO and the event’s co-founder.

 

“There’s an opportunity for everyone at SWCSummit – not only startups vying for the title and $ 500,000 USD investment prize. The event will be divided into special zones dedicated to startups, innovators from the corporate world, investors, and the general public. All attendees will be brought together through Myia, a networking and matchmaking smartphone app,” explains Václav Pavlečka, the CEO of Air Ventures and the second co-founder of the event.

The startup event of the year

For the first time, Prague is going to witness the best startup projects in Europe, the winners of 13 regional finals of the Startup World Cup. The finalists will compete to win $ 500,000 USD investment prize, the title of the European Startup Champion, and participation at the global finals held in San Francisco. Europe is the first continent to hold its own finals of this startup competition.

 

In the scope of SWCSummit, the regional finals of Visegrád Group takes place. 265 confirmed startups will compete to become the winning startup of the V4 Regional Finals, who will gain entry to European Continental Finals as well as entry to the global grand finale taking place in Silicon Valley in May.

 

Learn more about the Startup World Cup & Summit

The Startup World Cup & Summit (SWCSummit) is a unique marriage between the two most significant startup summits to emerge over the last few years. The Startup World Cup is a global startup summit and competition organized by the Silicon Valley venture capital fund Fenox. It was created to support innovations worldwide, interconnect subjects within the startup ecosystem, open doors for talented entrepreneurs,  and identify 20 of the best startup projects on the market today. Regional winners will compete at the grand finale in Silicon Valley for $1 million and other cool prizes. SWCSummit is organized by the investment fund Air Ventures and the startup incubator UP21. Dating back to 2012, the summit has attracted speakers from leading global corporations and startups, including TechCrunch editors, Startupbootcamp chiefs, Silicon Valley investors and representatives from companies like Tesla, SpaceX, Hyperloop Transport Technologies and Kiwi.com. The summit has also headlined corporate leaders like Andre Wehner from Škoda Auto and Tomáš Budník from O2. Learn more at www.swcsummit.com.

 

More about UP21

UP21 is an incubator and investor, providing startups with four crucial elements to help them succeed — financial support, specialized mentoring, personal development, and key industry skills. For each startup, UP21 creates a personalized navigation plan and leads innovators on their path to success in the spirit of its motto: “Investment is not enough. Ask for a great co-pilot.” Learn more at www.UP21.com.

 

More about Air Ventures

Air Ventures supports rising tech startups. The fund invests in dynamic technology companies with the focus mostly on the Central European region, brings unique know-how to marketing strategy-building, and allows startups to reach audiences and attract customers efficiently. Learn more at  www.airvcs.com

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Commissioner Mariya Gabriel endorses the Western Balkan policy recommendations

It was only on 15 November 2018 at Startup Europe Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, that the Founding Members of the Startup Europe Central and Eastern Europe Network (SECEEN) and the Startup Europe Western Balkans Network (SEWBN) publicly signed a Joint Declaration aimed at reinforcing the tech entrepreneurship ecosystems of their regions. Four months later, the Founding Members of the Startup Europe Western Balkans Network (Seavus Educational and Development Center – North Macedonia; Serbia Start Up- Serbia; Oficina- Albania; Innovation Centre Kosovo- Kosovo*; Digitalizuj.me- Montenegro; SPARK poslovni park d.o.o- Bosnia and Herzegovina) are proud to present the first joint effort from the Network– the Policy Recommendations reflecting the main challenges the Western Balkan countries need to tackle in order to thrive and be further connected to the European entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In her opening speech in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, at the Startup Europe Summit 2019, Mariya Gabriel highlighted the perfect timing for the Startup Europe Central and Eastern Europe Network and Startup Europe Western Balkans Network to be established, which is why she supported their launch back in November.

“[The Networks] focus on existing barriers for growth in the region and this Summit, now in Romania, is crucial because they will present publicly a set of concrete and actionable recommendations for European leaders and policymakers” – Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society

The Commissioner strongly believes that the policy recommendations are just the beginning of a long journey and everyone’s support is needed for the winds of change to blow strong. Throughout her speech, she pushed for active participation from all startups coming from Central and Eastern Europe and, in particular, the Western Balkan region and stressed that the opportunities provided by the Digital Agenda for Western Balkans should be seized. This is the only way for a truly Digital Single Market to be created.

Soon afterwards, Mariya Gabriel was handed over the policy recommendations by Europa Media Group, the Hungarian founding member and the leader of the two Networks, about which she said:

“This set of policy recommendations will facilitate the development of the Networks and contribute to the economic progress of their regions.”

Mariya Gabriel’s endorsement is already providing the boost that Western Balkan voices need in order to be heard by ecosystem players across Europe, thereby allowing everyone to benefit from a more equal and leveraged European startup ecosystem.

Concerning the policy recommendations for the Western Balkans

The policy recommendations, which are the very first joint endeavour of the Startup Europe Western Balkans Network, aim to facilitate the internationalisation of the Western Balkan countries and promote them in macroeconomic environments, as well as building bridges across the participating markets and cultures. In the long-run, the Western Balkan countries have a huge potential to become new hot spots attracting startups and innovators from all over Europe. However, common structural challenges must be addressed first through target measures. Some of the strategies that could be highlighted include building new collaboration mechanisms and support the existing ones, nurturing soft-landing opportunities and enhancing coordination both at national and regional levels.

For more information pertaining to the work of the Startup Europe Central and Eastern Europe Network and the Startup Europe Western Balkans Network, please contact Krisztina Toth at krisztina.toth@startupeurope.network.

 

 

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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“It has been a great opportunity”: The ‘Startup Lighthouse Awards’ at TechChill!

Are you thinking of scaling your startup in Europe? Join one of our ‘Deep Dive Weeks’ and you’ll forever be a part of our Startup Lighthouse family.

Just like your enthusiastic godparent, we promise we will always find ways to promote you, talk about you, and get you in front of the right people.

(more…)

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Pitching contest at Startup Europe Summit

We’re looking for 25 companies that have raised already seed or series A funding to join us at  Startup Europe Summit, 21st-22nd March.

What we offer to the applicants with seed funding:

  • Exhibition possibility
  • Travel (economy) and accomodation (2-3 nights) costs will be covered for one representative from your country to Cluj-Napoca.

What we offer for the Series A companies:

  • Possibility to pitch in front of an expert jury. The selected entries will have about 10 minutes to pitch, followed by a Q&A session. All pitching participants will be rewarded with access to top investors – something that can really mark a milestone in your entrepreneurial life! The companies the jury members represent are: AXON, Early Game Ventures, Index and Atomico. More details will follow.
  • Travel (economy) and accomodation (2-3 nights) costs will be covered for one representative from your country to Cluj-Napoca.

How to apply?

  • We welcome applications from Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Croatia.
  • all verticals are accepted
  • send your pitch deck to contest@mygatewayproject.eu
  • in the body of the email, tell us:
    • why you’d like us to attend,
    • what your expectations are,
    • your vertical,
    • contact details of the person who would be attending the event (name, surname, position, email, telephone);
  • Subject: SES19

Apply by 4th March

 

What is Startup Europe Summit? 

Startup Europe Summit is an event that brings together the leading players in technology entrepreneurship and innovation. This year, the summit will take place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania in light of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At the Summit you will be able to join thematic workshops, network with venture capitalists, engage with policy makers and learn how to grow your business abroad.

Startup Europe Summit draft agenda.

 

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StartUp Europe Awards Special Edition SES19 is looking for the best European startups

StartUp Europe Awards (SEUA), an initiative supported by the European Commission in collaboration with Startup Europe and organized by the Finnova Foundation, is holding a Special Edition for European startups that will be recognized during the Startup Europe Summit 2019 (SES19), to be celebrated in Cluj-Napoca, Romani, on 21 and 22 March 2019.

This SEUA Special Edition SES19 will recognize five startups, one for each one of the following prizes: Female-led startup; Young-led startup (founder under 30); United Nations Sustainable Development Goals startup; Social Inclusion startup and Job Growth startup.

It is possible to apply to the awards for every startup created 5 or less years ago in Europe. To apply, startups must fill in with detail the form found in the website of the SEUA Special Edition, and the deadline to apply ends on 23:59 hours (CET) of 17 February 2019. The startups should choose the prize most suitable for them (just one option).

A multidisciplinary jury, composed by professionals from different countries and fields, will make the selection of the best EU startups taking into account existing startups in the EU that meet these criteria and the applications received. Some of the jury members are part of the High Level group of experts from Startup Europe (European Commission).

Benefits for the selected startups

Winning startups will be invited to participate in the Startup Europe Summit SES19 that will take place between 21 and 22 March in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The expenses during both days for 1 member of the startup will be reimbursed (transport from country of origin to Cluj-Napoca, accommodation and daily allowance).

The startups will be recognized in a ceremony that will be held on March 21 in the frame of the Startup Europe Summit 2019 and will count with the presence of authorities from the European Commission, key influencers, investors, tech leaders, tech journalists, policy makers and entrepreneurs.

In SES19, the selected startups will be able to showcase their innovation in the networking area of the conference and will gain exposure and visibility through the StartUp Europe Awards Media Alliance composed by more than 30 media outlets and social networking sites.

The selected startups will pass to the European level of the next StartUp Europe Awards edition, regardless of any other startup competing or awarded in their country or category.

StartUp Europe Awards (SEUA) is an open innovation initiative promoted by the European Commission and the Finnova Foundation in collaboration with StartUp Europe; it is supported by the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Committee of the Regions, the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Committee and several members from the European Parliament. StartUp Europe Awards is sponsored by StartUp Europe Accelerator.

SEUA has celebrated two European finals (one in Brussels and the other one in Sofia), and is going to launch the third edition during the first quarter of 2019.

The winning startups will have access to information on opportunities offered by the European Union to boost and internationalize their projects through the StartUp Europe Accelerator program of the Finnova Foundation.

For more information about the StartUp Europe Awards Special Edition SES19 please visit https://bit.ly/2RMIL42

 

Startup Europe Summit 2019

Known as an evolving tech hub in Romania, the city of Cluj-Napoca will host the fourth edition of Startup Europe Summit in 2019, the perfect occasion to recognize the best European startups.

In the previous edition of the Startup Europe Summit, startups found information about new funding opportunities; meetings with investors, corporates and leading enterprises and public administration representatives as well as networking with a vivid community of key decision makers and tech leaders within EU, notably Central Eastern Europe and Western Balkans regions.

 

Press contact

Catalina Valencia

eustartup@finnova.eu

 

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Calling MedTech European startups to join our Deep Dive Week in Dublin – Applications until 15 February

Startup Lighthouse is opening up applications for its next mini acceleration programmes with Dublin being the first. Do you have a #MedTech #startup and you are looking to scale abroad? Have you been considering Ireland? Join us at our Deep Dive Week Dublin (7-10 April).  (more…)

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