For the fifth consecutive year, the EIT Digital Challenge called for the best European deep tech scaleups in order to accelerate their international growth. 200 tech companies from 24 countries accepted the challenge and submitted their digital technologies in a bid to win Europe's ambitious scaleup competition. The best 25 of them will be invited to a final event in Brussels in October where an international expert jury will select the winners.
The competition focuses on deep tech innovations - cutting edge technologies which are built around unique and differentiated scientific or technological advances, and which are often protected or hard to reproduce. Applicants were invited to submit to either of five categories, strategically chosen by EIT Digital with respect to major digital trends and European leadership potential.
"Deep tech is definitely impacting Europe's digital transformation, and it is no surprise that Digital Industry has been a popular category with the highest number of applications. Digital Infrastructure, the core digital category that includes AI, cybersecurity and networking, has also received a lot of applications", explains Chahab Nastar, Chief Research & Innovation Officer at EIT Digital. "Digital Cities and Digital Wellbeing are well balanced, while Digital Finance, our newest area, is nicely ramping up", he adds.
In each category, the best two companies will receive a full year of dedicated growth support from the <link accelerator>EIT Digital Accelerator, worth €50,000. Additionally, the winner in each category will also receive a cash prize of €50,000. "With ten companies joining the Accelerator programme and cash prizes of €250,000, the EIT Digital Challenge 2018 offers the most comprehensive prize package ever," states Dominik Krabbe, EIT Digital Challenge Lead. "We've seen an increased interest from high quality scaleups and are impressed by what they have already achieved."
Since it started in 2014, the EIT Digital Challenge has received more than 1800 entries from all 28 EU countries - a truly pan-European competition. It has grown from a contest for early stage startups to a challenge for successful growth-stage startups - so called scaleups - that are ready to expand their business internationally. On average, the 2018 applicants achieved a revenue of €610,000 last year, have already raised funds of more than €2m and have 21 employees.
To further expand their business in Europe and beyond, the winning teams will receive international growth support from the EIT Digital Accelerator for an entire year. The Accelerator comprises 40 experienced business developers and finance experts operating from 13 cities across Europe as well as a hub in Silicon Valley. Their mission: supporting European digital technology ventures by helping secure target customers and raise capital. Since 2012, the Accelerator has supported more than 270 startups which have raised a total of €400 million in investment, with more than €90 million facilitated by the Accelerator. The programme was ranked 8th among the Top 20 Active Accelerators in the Global Accelerator Report 2016 by Gust.