Despite the challenges of the pandemic, 2020 was a good year for European startups and technology in terms of investment. According to Atomico’s ‘The State of European Tech 2020’ report, the total investment in the European tech ecosystem is estimated to exceed a record €33.81B in 2020. When it comes to tech IPOs, this report also suggests that Europe has produced more tech IPOs than the US every year over the period from 2016 onwards, and 2020 was no different.
However, when we talk about scaling up, European companies still lag behind their American counterparts. This is according to a report by the World Economic Forum.
Therefore, in order to help take European scaleups to greater heights, EIT Digital is ready with the 8th edition of its flagship competition for European digital deep tech companies – EIT Digital Challenge 2021.
Registration for the EIT Digital Challenge is now open – apply here.
EIT Digital is a pan-European organisation aimed at promoting innovation, education, and entrepreneurship in digital technology. It aims at global impact through European innovation boosted by entrepreneurial talent and digital technology. It helps businesses and entrepreneurs to be at the frontier of digital innovation by providing them with technology, talent, and growth support.
The competition focuses on deep-tech scaleups, broadly defined as technology companies with a differentiating product offering, leveraging sophisticated technology that is often protected or hard to reproduce.
EIT Digital Challenge is open for growth-stage startups (so-called scale-ups) based in EU27 and Horizon Europe associated countries, with a minimum annual revenue of €300,000 or €2M in equity investment, that are a maximum of ten years old. Also, the applying company’s solution must be applicable to one of the five thematic areas: Digital Industry, Digital Finance, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing and Digital Tech.
The best three companies will receive prizes totalling €250K in cash and in kind. The application deadline is 10th May 2021.
Go deep, scale further
Chahab Nastar, EIT Digital Chief Innovation Officer, says, “It is our ambition to help companies overcome the fragmented European market and successfully grow across the continent. The EIT Digital Challenge is our key instrument to identify the best European deep tech entrepreneurs and help them, through our Accelerator, to raise funds, access new markets, and scale up internationally. We support them to become leading companies on the global market and enhance Europe’s competitiveness in digital.”
The EIT Digital Accelerator provides tailor-made growth support by helping them raise capital, find customers, and scale up internationally. This is done through a distributed team of business developers and fundraising experts operating from 10 European countries.
Since 2012, the EIT Digital Accelerator has supported startups and scaleups from 18 countries that have raised over €1B in investment. The Accelerator has also been recognised as the world’s top public Business Accelerator by UBI Global, and as one of the top three accelerator brands in Europe, according to Startup Heatmap Europe.
Shehryar Piracha, Head of the EIT Digital Accelerator, says, “We will select 20 companies out of all applicants and invite them to an exclusive event in the autumn where they will pitch to a jury of high-profile corporates and investors. A total of 3 winners will be announced during this event, one Challenge winner and two runners-up. They all will receive a full year of tailored support from the EIT Digital Accelerator, valued at €50,000. On top of that, the Challenge winner will receive a cash prize of €100K.”
Since its launch in 2014, the EIT Digital Challenge has attracted more than 2,500 entries from all over Europe. Prominent award winners include KONUX, Medicus.AI, or SidekickHealth, digital technology scaleups that have become internationally successful companies.
Here’s why you should apply
According to Deepomatic – EIT Digital Challenge’s first prize winner of 2020, being awarded by the EIT Digital Challenge represents a significant milestone for scaleups on the verge to grow and expand internationally. It provides access to its network of more than 200 renowned partners across Europe consisting of corporations, SMEs, startups, universities, and research institutes.
Augustin Marty, CEO & co-founder of Deepomatic, says, “Winning the EIT Digital Challenge was a huge recognition for the work of our team and being named by EIT Digital as the best deep tech startup in Europe was really meaningful at this point in time – the beginning of our scaleup stage.”
Marty further adds, “We are now concentrated on market access and helping all field engineers work in a more qualitative and efficient way. In this respect, I believe we can get help for our product marketing, but also our prospection efforts in the telecom, energy, and utility industries.”
Another EIT Digital Challenge winner of 2020 was Netherlands-based SwipeGuide. The startup has developed intelligent work instructions and procedures via augmented apps.
Founder & CEO of SwipeGuide, Willemijn Schneyder, says, “Winning this price is a huge accreditation for all efforts we made to design our product and bring it to market. It was like a marathon! And after a difficult year, I expect this award to open a lot of doors for our expansion plans to Belgium, Germany, and the UK.”
The company says the collaboration with the EIT Digital Accelerator is helping them tap into more than 200,000 factories in Europe, starting with Germany and the UK. “From our collaboration with EIT Digital, we expect better access to market, help with identifying the right targets, kick in doors, and expand our business to local markets. And winning this award has also helped our decision to actively start raising funds – with the support of EIT Digital.”
The company hopes that joining EIT Digital will be an opportunity to give back to this ecosystem and help close the gap between universities and companies.
Where to apply?
Apply for the 8th edition of the EIT Digital Challenge here, as the deadline for applications is 10th May 2021. The finals will take place in September.