Bigger than ever, 2021 has been a great year for EIT Jumpstarter, a programme helping start-ups develop viable business models ready to meet the needs and demands of investors and the market.
Creating an environment that nurtures sustainable impact in the Central-Eastern and Southern-European regions by boosting entrepreneurship is key to their development as competitive, innovative ecosystems.
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Most countries in these regions face a similar challenge: they have enormous innovation potential, with some great talent, bright, scientific minds, but their research often gets no further than the lab, due a lack of entrepreneurial expertise in how to deliver innovation to the market.
Then there are other challenges, such as brain drain, or internalisation, where start-ups founded by people from just country fail to think globally.
To overcome these challenges six European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) communities (EIT Health, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Food, EIT InnoEnergy, EIT Manufacturing and EIT Urban Mobility) teamed up in 2017 to create EIT Jumpstarter, which offers bootcamps, training sessions and mentoring to help start-ups develop viable business models ready to meet the needs and demands of investors and the market in general.
“We are very proud that 568 start-ups have been trained and been part of the EIT Jumpstarter experience since 2017,” says Dora Marosvolgyi, Cross-KIC Strategic Regional Innovations Director at EIT Health InnoStars.
“This is a big number for a highly selective and competitive programme. Our aim has been from the very beginning to boost innovation and entrepreneurship within Central-Eastern and Southern Europe and help talented innovators get their idea out of the lab and onto the market. Many of our graduates have already made an impact in these regions, which is the best feedback we can have.”
The winners of 2021 programme are set to be announced on December 1. Finalists will pitch their business ideas at an online event after which a jury will select start-ups in each of the seven categories that win the first prize of 10,000 euros.
Previous winners are effusive in their praise for the programme, all pointing to the head start it offers them on their path to market.
Fetalix, which developed the first regenerative fetal-inspired solution to treat lower back pain through a minimally-invasive application, was a winner in the health category in 2020.
“EIT Jumpstarter provided us with the entrepreneurial skills needed to launch our company,” says Joana Caldeira, one of Fetalix’s founders. “It focuses on bringing together the ‘knowledge triangle’ to build active and meaningful international collaborative networks.”
“Participating at the 2020 EIT Jumpstarter was a game-changer for us,” adds Alexis G. Pantziaros, CEO and co-founder of Coffe-eco, which transforms coffee waste into high added-value products, the winner of the EIT Food category.
“It is a highly selective programme and we received crucial insight regarding our business model and commercialisation. EIT has a fine expert network which meant that we got advice from seasoned professionals. The training and mentoring are still bearing fruit now.”
Driving strategy and vision
This year has been special in the life of EIT Jumpstarter, adding a new category, New European Bauhaus, to the programme, a record number of applications (548), and welcoming teams from countries and regions – the Western Balkans – that had not participated in previous editions.
“Meetings with the EIT Jumpstarter advisors and its entrepreneurial network helped us see around corners and were invaluable in helping to drive our product strategy and vision,” says Jasmina Ristic, a founder of Horizer, which aims to fragment and democratise the energy market by providing every person with the means to have clean, mobile energy accessible, shareable, and tradeable anywhere.
“One of the main things we took from the EIT Jumpstarter programme was that the main tool for achieving fast growth – and the impact on the world that comes with it – is to focus on implementing the things you learn fast. Once you feel the clarity of this type of focus – and see the huge advantages in productivity and progress it gives – you will never want to work any other way.”
You can find out more about the 2021 finalists, and register to watch the final live, here.
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