Thursday, June 18, 2015

EU Funded Projects for Startups

Whats the first thought coming to your mind thinking about how European Commission helps you? might say, it probably helps me somehow, but i'm not really sure. Some think of EC as a complicated organisation with lots and lots of bureaucracy and little real-world action. This idea shines even brighter in the minds of tens of thousands of startup founders, getting their little ventures off the ground. Well think no more!

Recent years have seen a dramatic change and evolution of technologies. Recognising that, European Commission payed lots of interest and also money for the European digital market. The emergence of new startups is very welcomed as it creates lots of new jobs and a high added-value. Thus EC created the whole package of different initiatives to support startups in all stages and all high-growth sectors.

These ideas are clearly defined in Startup Manifesto - the document co-created by entrepreneurs, defining the needs of startups as well as policies and other actions needed to be implemented.

Here is a list of current ongoing European Commission funded initiatives, that you as a startup can benefit from directly, without the need of lots of papers, bureaucracy and other boring stuff - 'action ready', so to say! The list is very pragmatically described, obviously more information can be found on the websites. And, I'm sure I've missed some projects. 

Startup Europe

An EU initiative aiming to strengthen the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs so that their ideas and business can start and grow in the EU. More info:

Projects connecting local ecosystems

StartupScaleup / Accelerator program for IoT startups. Connecting Spain, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and UK. A combination between physical and online accelerator. 6 month program with regular online meetings with mentors from IoT industry. Provides access to prototyping facilities and helps with product licensing and similar IoT related challenges. Takes no equity, though gives no funding. 

DIGISTART /  Connects Portugal, Sweden and UK. Provides Open Application for students with idea or very early stage business ideas in order to validate them. 4 or 5 pre-accelerators have access to the applications and if they like the idea, it can be invited to respective pre-accelerator. This way real-world, market based validation of idea is performed. Also provides list of Jobs in startups to university students and Technical/Business talent to startup jobs.  

MyWay / Wants to connect accelerators and other support networks, mentors, universities and students. Again real actions are quite generic - "The project will create synergies and find ways to embed flexible support services based on the existing best practices".

TWIST / Connects Italy, France, Sweden and Poland. The current description of the project is quite generic, however it seems there will be hackatons and some sort of accelerator programs. Again, provides mentorship. No word on direct funding though, only "financial technicalities for accessing finance for growth".

Projects helping with investment

InvestHorizon / Provides education and knowledge on getting startups investment-ready. Its done via online courses, collected from various organisations. Content of the quality is quite high.

Projects for students

CREA / Several day summer academies for students with early ideas to get to the next phase. Provides mentorship, connects with some investors. 

Startify7 / As well, several day summer academy, however focused on verticals, like e-health, digital security, IoT etc. For students. Provides mentorship, connects with some investors.

Other Projects

FIWARE Accelerators / €80 million worth of direct funding, mentoring and networking to create your innovative internet application with FIWARE technologies.

ACE Programme / Accelerator program for ICT startups. Provides:

- living lab validation in other countries
- hands-on assistance in finding partners and clients
- office space
- introductions to investors
- coaching on pitching for transnational investment.

TechAllStars /  Tech All Stars connects twelve of the best startups from accelerators and web camp competitions across Europe with top EU funding sources, successful entrepreneurs and networking opportunities.

EU-GCC / Initiative in collaboration with Middle East Chamber of Commerce. Connects startups with investors in EU and GCC regions. Matchmaking done via events and applications to specific corporates. Currently offers access to 5 corporates in EU, no corporates in GCC has been listed.

Atalanta / Connects 5 commercial startup accelerators (NUMA, H-Farm, Lisbon Challenge and Super Founders and Tetuan Valley) to increase collaboration between such programs. Provides startup exchange (allowing startups to move between these programs). Provides virtual mentoring (allowing startup to be mentored by mentor from a different accelerator).