The second batch of the Idea Challenge startup competition has attracted a whopping 479 applications, up by 54 percent on the first round, for a total of 790. Those 479 teams will now be sweating it out hoping to make it to the four topic finals which will be held in different cities around Europe in October and November.
For the second half of the Idea Challenge, those topics include smart energy systems, the Internet of Things, cyber security and privacy and urban life and mobility.
The contest – run by EIT ICT Labs – has seen startups and entrepreneurial teams with the drive to found an ICT-driven business compete in eight categories in total, with finals in different European cities which play host to an EIT presence. Three winners are picked from each final, receiving €40,000, €25,000 and €15,000 respectively as well as coaching and mentoring from business development experts, integration into future EIT activities and office space for six months. There is also access to some of the world’s leading universities, research institutes and companies, such as Siemens, SAP, IBM, Intel and Philips.
The hope is that the contest can help break down the barriers to true innovation within Europe a little, especially given that EIT ICT Labs – which is partly financed by the EU – won’t take any equity from the winners and therefore does not measure success in terms of seeing the startups exit for a huge profit, but rather by factors such as job creation.
In the first round of the Idea Challenge, 12 startups in the health and wellbeing, cyber-physical systems, smart spaces and future cloud categories won a total of €320,000, and are already working closely with the EIT ICT Labs Business Accelerator to further develop their ideas.
Now the 479 new entries of the latest batch will be hoping for more of the same – and they are certainly a varied bunch. There were registrations from teams in 27 European Union member states, and actual entries from all but one country. Italy had the most with 100, followed by Germany with 86, the UK with 55 and France with 53.
Smart energy systems (final in Berlin on October 31) saw 62 submissions, Internet of Things (Stockholm on November 13) 163, cyber security and privacy (Trento on November 13) 67 and urban life and mobility (London on November 20) 187.
A jury made up of industry experts, investors, entrepreneurs and business accelerators will now review the entries to select the most innovative ideas for the finals. Depending on the topic, between eight and 12 teams will be invited to pitch their ideas.
Willem Jonker, CEO of EIT ICT Labs, said the organisation’s mission is to bring innovation to life: “The Idea Challenge is very important to us, because it helps us finding these innovations across Europe. The Idea Challenge is really about scouting technologies, ideas, opportunities and mak[ing] sure they make it to the market.”