© Caroline Ablain

published 12 Nov 2015 by Manon Pierre 2 minutes 59 seconds to read

Idea Challenge highlights tech excellence in the EU

The 2015 edition of the pan-European startup contest Idea Challenge sees an increase in variety and internationality. The series of events reflect Europe’s diverse and vibrant tech scene and the strong potential of startup ecosystems emerging at the four corners of the continent.

EIT ICT Labs

EIT Digital, organiser of the Idea Challenge contest, recently announced a new crop of 74 promising startups shortlisted in eight verticals: Cyber Security & Privacy, Internet of Things (IoT), Urban Life and Mobility, Smart Energy Systems, Health & Wellbeing, Cyber Physical Systems, Smart Spaces and Future Cloud.

The contest targets diverse startups offering disruptive technology and innovative services tackling societal and environmental issues. EIT Digital, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), seeks to spur innovation and entrepreneurship in the European Union, through the cross-border collaboration programme ARISE Europe and this annual startup contest.

More countries, more diversity

This year again, the contest received a healthy amount of attention from startups from all over Europe. It collected 461 applications by tech startups from 26 EU countries, including a dozen of startups from countries not covered by the EIT Digital network, such as Estonia, Greece or Austria.

“In our efforts to mobilise the potential of digital innovations in those countries, we have managed to positively impact this year’s finalists for the Idea Challenge,” said Fabio Pianesi, EIT Digital Research Director.

Pianesi also pointed out the increased international aspect of the contest, noting that this year’s finalists come from 17 EU member states, compared to 11 in 2014. A bunch of newcomers indeed joined the challenge: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal and Romania made their first-time entry into the finals.

One figure stands out in particular: 83% of the finalists come from outside Germany, France or Italy, compared to only 43% last year. Among them, several startups from nascent ecosystems such as CEE and the Baltic countries made it to the finals, such as ViVeTech Ltd (Hungary), Tractive GmbH (Austria), Autlo (Estonia), inSelly (Latvia) and Sorry As A Service (Estonia).

The many facets of tech entrepreneurship

Following last year’s trend, the category “Urban Life and Mobility” attracted the most startups, while “Health and Wellbeing” had a stronger turnout, taking over the second place from “Internet of Things” (IoT). These three categories make up for 57% of all applications altogether.  

As in the tech industry in general, gender distribution shows a wide disparity among the categories here. For instance, Health & Wellbeing counts 60% of female founders or co-founders overall, compared to only 25 % among all final startups.

Elaborating on the diversity of the contestants this year, Pianesi added that “it is not only the case that the internationality and variety of the 74 selected startups has increased from last year, but their quality as well.”

The next European success story?

The top-3 finalists in each vertical who will succeed in convincing the juries of industry experts, investors and researchers of the potential of their business will be awarded financial support to help move their startups forward. Prizes consist of 40,000 Euros for the winner, 25,000 Euros for second place and 15,000 Euros for third place.

In addition to the prize money, the laureate teams will get access to EIT Digital’s innovation network with more than 130 partners, benefit from international growth support through the EIT Digital Accelerator, and will gain visibility with support from marketing and communication experts.

Starting with Future Cloud in Rennes on 19-20 October and ending with Cyber Physical Systems in Paris on 4 December, the final pitches are taking place in eight cities according to their respective categories as follows:

Future Cloud: Rennes, 19 & 20 October

Smart Energy Systems: Berlin, 4 November

Cyber Security & Privacy: Trento, 19 November

Urban Life & Mobility: London, 23 November

Health & Wellbeing: Eindhoven, 25 November

Smart Spaces: Helsinki, 1 December

Internet of Things: Stockholm, 3 December

Cyber Physical Systems: Paris, 4 December

This story is brought to you in partnership with EIT Digital.

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