Land in Vilnius, the place to be for Blockchain startups

Soft-Landing is calling Blockchain scaleups and representatives of startup hubs from all over Europe to discover the vibrant Lithuanian startup ecosystem in June. Applications open until 7 May.

Lightning-fast speed of internet, intelligent and talented workforce, low taxes for business, government support, favorable environment for blockchain and one of the most innovative economies in the world make Vilnius startup scene second to none. Too good to be true? 

Prove it yourself during the Soft-Landing activities that will take place on June 11-15. Startups and ecosystem builders will be deeply immersed into the epicenter of the Baltic startup ecosystem: Vilnius.

Why is Vilnius the coolest place for Blockchain?

  • Gateway for global blockchain industry – EU’s only hub for the digital ledger
  • Trending crypto area – In 2017 Lithuania logged 35 ICOs ranging from $3M-$151M, raising a total of $500M in value. The highest ICO per capita in the world!
  • A new regulatory “sandbox” for blockchain startups – The platform will contribute to the creation of better conditions for the development of businesses
  • Blockchain Centre Vilnius – First international centre in Europe for education and development of decentralized technologies

Want more reasons? Check this article by Tricia Levasseur on Medium.com

Vilnius Blockchain centre © Verslo Žinios


The Vilnius mission will bring you to:

Vilnius Tech Park © Made In Vilnius


What is in it for startups? [11-15 June]

The main goal of the programme is to provide tangible practical support in entering the Lithuanian market or benefiting from access to it.

  • Workshops on specific topics, e.g. overview of Lithuanian business culture, legal matters, etc.;
  • Light business support from the Startup Division team;
  • Individually assigned, specific mentors;
  • Experience sharing with the receiving hubs representatives, as well as between soft-landers;
  • Exciting site visits, events and conferences with free or discounted passes.

You can stay in Vilnius for up to 1-month longer, benefiting from soft-landing mentoring support.

…and for ecosystem builders?  [12-14 June]

Mission participants will explore which Blockchain opportunities Vilnius has to offer, get to know success stories from already flourishing companies, shake hands and have one-on-one chats with ecosystem leaders to identify opportunities for ground breaking collaborations.

Rise Vilnius © Rise Vilnius


Convinced? Apply fast.

Soft-Landing stay for Startups and Scaleups*  ||  11-15 June  ||  APPLY ON F6S

Discovery Mission for Ecosystem Builders* ||  12-14 June  ||  APPLY ON F6S

* Participation is free of charge thanks to Startup Europe.

Deadline for applications extended: 7 May


Article and programme developed by your local partners in Vilnius, Startup Division.


Europe is back: Accelerating Breakthrough Innovation

The independent High-Level Group of Innovators advising the European Commission has published its recommendations on how a European Innovation Council (EIC) should fund and nurture breakthrough innovation from start-up to scale-up.

In their report, entitled ‘Europe is back: Accelerating breakthrough innovation‘, they recommend that a future EIC provides simplified and flexible financing, tailor-made for the needs of the innovator and which incentivises private investment for rapid scaling up. They also recommend boosting awareness of Europe’s innovation successes and leveraging European ecosystems, so that highly innovative companies can benefit from expertise and partnerships from across Europe.

Four factors that hold back breakthrough and deep tech innovation in Europe have been identified:

  • Funding – Breakthrough innovation, in particular deep tech, requires large investments, over a significant time period. This is the kind of finance that is missing in Europe and presents a systemic failure;
  • Awareness- Europe needs a flagship initiative on breakthrough innovation that can attract the best innovators and connect local and sectorial ecosystems;
  • Scale – Europe needs continental scale to compete at global level;
  • Talent- Europe needs role models and champions.

The document should provide a critical mass of funding and expertise for high risk / high gain breakthrough innovation, which empowers the innovator and incentivizes private investment.

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas welcomed the recommendations and said they formed a significant input for the development of a full-fledged European Innovation Council as part of the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The report was first presented to French President Emmanuel Macron at the World Economic Forum in Davos, who has made similar calls for a European agency for innovation.

Commissioner Moedas said:

These recommendations show how a European Innovation Council would empower our most talented innovators and stimulate an environment of risk-taking, entrepreneurship and scaling-up to the international stage. They come at a critical time in the preparations for the next EU research and innovation programme.

The Group’s chair, Hermann Hauser, co-Founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, said:

We are convinced that our fourteen recommendations – on funding, awareness, scale and talent – will constitute a step change in the impact of EU innovation support and help catapult Europe into pole position in the global innovation stakes

Bindi Karia, Start-upexpert and advisor and Member of the High-Level Group of Innovators added in the report:

Ecosystem players from across Europeare all involved in the Startup Europe project, andwhat has transpired is that these leaders fromeach country collaborating and learning from eachother borders. And it continues to grow. From citieslike Paris to Berlin to Stockholm to Lisbon, the keypeople in these communities know each other andare increasingly collaborating with each other, dealby deal and company by company.



The High-Level Group of 15 leading innovators was launched in January 2017. Their recommendations will be considered in the Commission’s proposals for the future EU research and innovation Framework Programme (post-Horizon 2020) due to be presented by this summer.

The Commission has launched an EIC pilot programme (2018-20), to test out new approaches within the current Horizon 2020 programme to better support top-class innovators, start-ups, small companies and researchers with breakthrough ideas with scale up potential.



Startup Europe Week 2018 opens registration for co-organisers

Startup Europe Week is the largest multi-event of its kind for startups in Europe and the third edition will be held 5th-9th March 2018. Its goal is to inform entrepreneurs of the support and resources available at a city and regional level.

Startup Europe Week, promoted by the European Commission and Startup Europe, aims to showcase the support available to entrepreneurs on a city and regional level. Regional diversity and local policy making still play a big role in shaping European startups, from helping entrepreneurs to incorporate a company, to providing grants or taxes breaks. For this reason, taking a local perspective is crucial to supporting entrepreneurs and startups in Europe.

In 2017, #SEW17 saw over 280 co-organisers organize hundreds of events in over 40 countries across Europe. The week was launched in Brussels with the Vice President of the European Commission, and as a grassroots movement achieved over 18 million impressions on social media and more than 100 thousand participants across all events.

In 2018, #SEW18 will be held between 5th-9th March and will expand to other global continents. Registration is now open for individuals to apply to co-organise a single event or multiple events in their local city or region.

A typical event aims to:

  • Inform local entrepreneurs of the support available: via meetups, talks and workshops
  • Connect all players in the local startup ecosystem: network between city and regional governments, accelerators, incubators, investors, corporates, media, universities and entrepreneurs
  • Showcase what other regions in Europe are doing: to see what can be leveraged locally

To apply to become a #SEW18 co-organiser, please fill in this form, by December 29th: https://tinyurl.com/ycgmxwps

Further information about what it’s like to be a co-organiser on the Startup Europe Week website.

Follow SEW on social media:
Twitter:   @startupeuw
Facebook: @startupeuropeweek


Startup Olé Accelerator hosts SEC2U

Entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a valuable career choice for recent graduates. Developing your entrepreneurial competencies is now seen as crucial, not only for starting your own business, but for contributing to the success of small companies. Even large corporations are beginning to see the value in entrepreneurial skills for their employees.

There still exists a struggle for students to obtain entrepreneurship skills and experience, with commercialization and knowledge transfer often overlooked. For this reason, we welcome Startup Europe Comes to Universities (SEC2U)!

SEC2U is an initiative endorsed by the European Commission(Startup Europe) to create a strong culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within universities across Europe. This consists of a series of events that bring together students, university staff,entrepreneurs, businessmen and representatives of local governments in order to showcase the available support andform valuable connections in the startup ecosystem. The second edition of SEC2U will take place from the 23rdto the 29thof October and the University of Salamanca/Startup Olé Acceleratorwill be joining the initiative!

During the event that will take place in the Narodowy Stadium, Warsaw as part of the CEE Acceleration Summit on the 26thof October, where Universities will come together with Accelerators, Corporations and Policy Makers to bring up the startup ecosystem in Europe

Startup Olé Accelerator of the University of Salamanca will be supported by other universities across Europe, taking steps towards the internationalization of the CEE region together with over 30 prestigious universities in the SEC2U initiative.

With approximately 3000 people expected in attendance, this is a time to showcase the work of universities in the entrepreneurship area, build bridges between university communities and startup ecosystems and facilitate connections!

Take the right step towards your future and don´t miss out on this opportunity. Find out more about SEC2U and the events near you: http://startupeuropeuniversities.eu/

See you there!


About Startup Europe Comes to the Universities (SEC2U)

Startup Europe Comes to the Universities (SEC2U) is a Europe wide initiative to engage universities (from the Startup Europe University Network and beyond) and enable them to spread an entrepreneurial culture. SEC2U will hold events across Europe during the week of 23rd to 29th of October 2017.

The main objective of the SEC2U events is to showcase the commitment of European universities for entrepreneurship and to connect universities to the wider startup ecosystem.


The Startup Europe team works with entrepreneurs connecting them with the European ecosystem where talent, investment and learning can be easily captured. We believe Europe’s growth is going to be determined by savvy startups, and we want to support the growth of these startups.

http://startupeuropeclub.eu | @startupEU



The Netherlands’ Small (But Mighty) FinTech Scene

Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about the Netherlands and its tech scene:

  • The Netherlands is estimated to have a population of 17 million.
  • The country’s GDP was approximately $880 billion in 2014.
  • Nearly 90 percent of the Dutch population speaks English, making it an attractive location for tech talent.
  • Forty-one percent of the jobs in the Netherlands are created by startups.
  • In the first four months of 2016, the technology companies based in the Netherlands raised €37 million in capital.
  • Last year, Netherlands-based startups raised €430 million across 153 deals.
  • The 2016 Startup Nations Monitor ranked the Netherlands as number one for implementing policies aimed at boosting startup growth.While London and Berlin may be the first two cities that come to mind when thinking of Europe’s most well-suited areas for startups, Amsterdam isn’t that far behind.

Don’t let the small size of the Netherlands fool you.

The country has a longstanding reputation of considering itself “Europe’s best-connected and largest ecosystem,” but it may soon actually be living up to the self-appointed title. Holland’s capital city, Amsterdam, broke into the top 20 pool in last year’s Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking and saw the exit values of its startups grow by five times the two-year moving average.

Major global companies, such as Uber, Netflix and Tesla, have recently established European headquarters in Amsterdam, and it’s expected that others will soon follow suit. The city’s growing recognition for a thriving tech scene also landed it ranked in the number two spot in the continent (behind London) for startups on last year’s European Digital City Index.

It’s no wonder Amsterdam has seen its hat thrown in the ring for which major European city will be the “new London” in the wake of Brexit.

This may have something to do with the Dutch Parliament’s efforts to bolster the country’s startup ecosystem through a growing number of initiatives and policies. Legislation is in the works that makes it both easier and cheaper to launch a startup in the Netherlands, as well as the country’s establishment of mentoring networks and residency programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs flourish.

Though it may have a relatively small population, the country is known for its top tech talent and high internet penetration (94 percent). Not only has the government helped to foster a startup-friendly environment, but the Netherlands also offers favorable trade deals, a highly regarded education system, a strong economy and convenient location.

“Why Silicon Valley is successful is you have a good environment for investment, for risk-taking, and there’s an infrastructure to do it. Here what you have are some similarities, but you also have a place that people want to live in,” Maarten Plesman, VP EMEA for Revinate, recently told Tech City News.

“It is a magnet for people to come in, and the rest of the infrastructure is building up right now. The investment climate is nowhere near Silicon Valley today, but I think we see a lot of signs that it’s improving — that there’s more risk-taking, more possibilities for startups or for anybody else.”

The Blockchain Boom

Earlier this year, the Dutch government announced plans to open a new campus devoted entirely to attracting banks and financial institutions through the development of blockchain.

Willem Vermeend, the first official “FinTech Ambassador of the Netherlands,” and the Dutch Ministry of Finance said the blockchain will become a critical part of the financial sector, but what’s needed is collaboration.

“There is a lot of creativity in the Netherlands. The problem is that I have spoken to 20 parties who do not know what each other is doing,” Vermeend said.

The hope of the campus is that it will help both individuals and companies work better together.

Beijing-based bitcoin company Bitmain Technologies Limited recently acquired Amsterdam-based bitcoin wallet provider and analytics platform Blocktrail in a move that the company said will only help to benefit its users.

Blocktrail is a provider of tools for blockchain integration and serves both consumers and developers with resources and information about cryptocurrency transactions.

“Joining forces with Bitmain is an important step forward for us, which will not only benefit you as our wallet, API and block explorer user but also enforces our collective goal as bitcoin users — to continue the growth and advancement of the bitcoin ecosystem,” the Blocktrail team said in a statement announcing the acquisition.

Retrieved from: PYMNTS.com

Image: Pixabay.com


How Building A Stronger Startup Ecosystem Could Help Tackle Youth Unemployment In Italy And Spain

By Federico Guerrini


Forbes Italy n Spain SE

Unemployment rates in Spain and Italy have improved in recent months, but are still among the highest in the eurozone: 19.8% and 11.5% respectively in May, according to the latest Eurostat data. Youth unemployment is also definitely significant in those countries (43.9% and 36.9%), suggesting that the younger generations are the ones who are still paying the higher price to the economic crisis.

This help explain why so many of them choose to migrate: thousands of young Italians flocked to London or Berlin, in search of opportunities. For those who stay, setting up their own business (often called a “startup”, when dealing with innovative projects) might be the only choice.

Startups are the ones that are creating jobs. We have evidence from a recent OECD report that startups that survive the first five years are the ones creating 21% to 55% of all new jobs, depending on the country,” Isidro Laso, who heads the Startup Europe initiative of the European Commission tells me.

Alas, the two southern startup ecosystems are not the hottest around. Italy’s, in particular, seems to struggle to gain traction: while the number of startups is constantly increasing, few of them are able to scale, due to the lack of capital (in 2015, VC funding hovered around 100 million). Spain is doing better, thanks to money collected from international investors, but is still lagging behind more developed ecosystems, like UK or the Nordics.

Image credits: Eurostat

Support from the European Union could come handy in helping Italian and Spanish entrepreneurs overcome the gap with more developed parts of Europe, both in terms of funding and networking opportunities. Indeed, as for the former, both nations are among the first beneficiaries, in the last two years, of the funds earmarked by the EU for innovation and technological research in the Horizon 2020 program.

Spanish companies performed particularly well, getting the relative majority (38,6%) of the overall 1.100,8 million euros received by the country, and being very effective in collecting money from the “Innovation in the SMEs” initiative, which was specifically launched to support SMEs and startups.

Such instruments, however, while helpful, are not by any means perfect. “I think there is a lot of European money getting lost in the process between the people who is getting the grants and the entrepreneurs,” the vice president of the Spanish Startups Association, Carmen Bermejo, says.

“The ones who know how to apply and get the European grants are sometimes not the same ones that know how to help the startups and deliver value. This is even worse if we speak about the European funds for regional cohesion, that depend a lot on personal contacts and relationships,” she adds.

As for networking opportunities, the Commission is trying to build through the Startup Europe Initiative what Laso calls “a digital single market of entrepreneurs”. There are several initiatives, which, though not tailored specifically to Italy or Spain, could be especially beneficial for these less connected countries.

Events like the Startup Weeks, roadshows, knowledge exchange projects aimed at connecting startups operating in the continent. “Some people in the Commission has criticized this, saying ‘what do you want to do, turn the Commission into a travel agency?’”, Laso says, “but maybe our role is not to compete with the venture capitalists giving free money, but to ensure that entrepreneurs get to know each other.”

The main drive behind this approach is to mimic in Europe, on a different scale and with a continental twist, the density of talent and capital that made Silicon Valley unique so far.

Fighting fragmentation is, indeed, the raison d’être of specific programs, like Welcome, or Twist. The first is aimed at connecting five startup hubs, including Milan, Madrid and Salamanca. Rome is one of the four other cities to which Twist is addressed.

“We’re helping the start ups to internationalize. To get new contacts. To get new customers,” Matevz Gantar, Welcome’s project manager in Salamanca, tells me. Think of an Erasmus for startups, and you’ll get the idea. One positive feature that distinguishes these from similar EU programs, is the real-time feedback provided by independent experts.

“In the past we heard from Bruxelles only when the projects were over,” Valentina Diana, a manager for Twist’s Italian partner Lazio Innova says, “now, external advisors appointed by the Commission are constantly monitoring what we do, and giving us inputs.”

Clearly, all that glitters is not gold. One issue is the relative sluggishness of the procedures. “Between when you apply to a program and when you start to participate, it can pass quite some time. Also in terms of activities, they are can be spread from spring to fall,” Gantar admits, “But half a year is like the whole life time for a start up: it could be either make it or go bust.”

Sometimes, also, mentors do not have the qualities needed, or offer startups things they don’t really need. But Laso believes the overall approach is correct. “In the Nordics, entrepreneurs understood from the start importance of being part of global networks. In Spain and Italy, people have a tendency to work more locally.”

Hopefully they’ll change their minds and realize that, in an interconnected world, too much insularity is the quickest path to failure.


Retrieved from: Forbes


Startup Europe comes to Madrid

Startup Europe, the European Commission’s flagship initiative for startups, was in Madrid on the 27th of June to meet the main players of the Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Spain has been one of the main countries for two Startup Europe projects: WELCOME and Startup Europe Partnership (SEP).

WELCOME has brought dozens of Spanish startups (such as Wayook, Videona, BeOnPrice) across Europe to make business and gain visibility and SEP has developed a European-wide matchmaking club for the best startups and corporates (Telefonica, BBVA, etc.).

The meet-up was held at 17:00 at IE Business School with the objective to have an open discussion on the impact of the Startup Europe initiative in Spain, how it could improve and how can European Commission collaborate with the Spanish ecosystem to develop more opportunities for startups and promote entrepreneurship.

The opening was delivered by Professor Paris de L´Etraz, Director of the Venture Lab Accelerator of IE Business School. Isidro Laso Ballesteros, Head of Unit for Startup Europe, led the discussion together with the project coordinators, Emilio Corchado from BISITE Accelerator (WELCOME) and Alberto Onetti from Mind the Bridge (SEP).

In attendance were various representatives from corporates, accelerators, investors, media and startups (such as Connector, Endeavor, TetuanValley, Fundera.eu, Google Campus, Banco Sabadell, Global Exchange) ensuring a rich and community-led discussion.

There was a general feeling that Spain and especially Madrid is a great place to start a startup, even if that isn’t a well-known fact outside of its borders. Overall, it was felt that the government should listen to the needs of the startup ecosystem and provide support where needed, otherwise not intervene. A particular call to action was to make conditions better for startups to scale up, namely with what concerns tax and fiscal regulation.

The meeting was very organic and fluid as members of the Spanish ecosystem are well aware of each other. The final point of the meeting was to invite everyone to attend the next IE venture day, 6th of July.

At 19:00, there was a press moment followed by networking and cocktail, where journalists had the opportunity to seize the room.



Professor Paris de L´Etraz, Director of the Venture Lab Accelerator of IE Business School, welcoming the attendees.

isidroIE Isidro Laso Ballesteros, Head of Unit for Startup Europe, presenting the initiative and engaging with the local startup community.


Alberto Onetti from Mind the Bridge (SEP) presenting the results of the project an opportunities for corporates.


Emilio Corchado from BISITE Accelerator (WELCOME) presenting opportunities for Spanish startups


WELCOME projectwww.welcomestartup.eu

Short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWsjVt-lzp4

WELCOME strives to break down the barriers between 5 different major EU startup ecosystems (Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Madrid and Salamanca) and help tech startups to go international from the start.

Startup Europe Partnershiphttp://startupeuropepartnership.eu

Short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdOT9GdIeqI

Startup Europe Partnership is a platform where the best startups meet the best corporates, with a goal: to make things happen, whether that means procurement (corporates buy products and services from startups), strategic investments and eventually acquisition/acqui-hires.