As one of the leading pan-European competitions, EIT Digital Challenge aims to identify the best European deep tech entrepreneurs and help them scale up internationally. Since its launch in 2014, the competition has attracted thousands of applications from more than 33 European countries. Back for its Ninth Edition, EIT Digital Challenge seeks fast-growing companies with a differentiated product offering across Digital Tech, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing & Digital Finance. Many of the previous winning scaleups have moved on to become internationally successful companies.
Discover SidekickHealth – an EIT Digital Success Story
In 2019, Nordic digital therapeutics (DTx) innovator SidekickHealth competed in the EIT Digital Challenge and from a field of hundreds of applicants was selected as a finalist in the Digital Wellbeing category.
Starting in January 2020, Sidekick was actively supported by the fundraising experts in EIT Digital Accelerator’s Access to Finance team. The team’s experts helped Sidekick launch and coordinate a round that closed at USD 20 million. The round was led by Wellington Partners (Germany) and ASABYS Partners (Spain), with participation by existing investors Novator (UK) and Frumtak Ventures (Iceland).
“The EIT Digital Accelerator team delivered critical support during this process and was key in the successful closing of our fundraising: in addition to providing invaluable feedback and advice, their systematic management of the process and coordinated efforts allowed us to meet with all the right investors from across Europe in a very short period of time.”, says Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, CEO & Co-Founder of SidekickHealth.
Learn more from EIT Digital’s Fundraising Specialists
We spoke to Francisco Ibañez Diez & Daniel Auriel, Fundraising Specialists from EIT Digital’s Access-to-Finance Team to learn more about the prize – entry into the EIT Digital Accelerator worth € 50 thousand – as well as about the EIT Digital Challenge.
The success of SidekickHealth is inspiring – what are the key factors that, in your opinion, allow scaleups to get the most out of a collaboration with the EIT Digital Accelerator program?
Sidekick Health was indeed a great story. The credit belongs to them. They are one of the best teams we have worked with in the program: they were so fast and efficient that we could almost barely keep up with them, to be honest.
In general, scaleups get the most value out of participation in the EIT Digital accelerator when they come well prepared but are still eager to learn. Those founders that have given a lot of thought to the details of their business will be in a great position to act on the expert advice EIT Digital’s access to finance team can provide.
In your experience, why do you believe EIT Digital is ideally positioned to help startups & scaleups raise funds and accelerate their business?
Our team of technology financing specialists knows what it takes for digital ventures to secure funding from professional venture capital investors. Our knowledge of the funding process and deep understanding of investors’ exacting requirements make all the difference to your funding success.
Leveraging a network of 1000+ investors, EIT Digital Accelerator has directly facilitated over €130 million in investment for its portfolio companies. In total, the portfolio and alumni scaleups have raised close to €1 billion.
Additionally, one of the challenges of fundraising startups is getting investor attention, as we all know. Being able to have warm introductions through our extensive “live” network makes a real difference. Not only that, but we can also leverage our place in the EU-Commission ecosystem when we “cold-reach” investors outside our original network as we continuously explore potential matches for our portfolio companies.
The EU-Commission brand is known by pretty much everyone, everywhere, and it is recognized that players belonging to this ecosystem are serious, credible, and professional. This allows us to open many doors that would otherwise not react to cold outreach efforts.
Can you introduce our readers to the EIT Digital Access-to-Finance team? What are its functions and how can scaleups benefit from interacting with them?
The Access-to-Finance team is made up of very senior individuals with diverse and complementary backgrounds. They all have a direct startup and/or venture capital experience, i.e. they have all been on one or both sides of the fundraising/investment fence. They each closely cover a region where they maintain direct personal contacts with dozens, even hundreds, of investors.
Each company that joins the program is mentored and supported by one of them personally, and by the whole team collectively as the progress and challenges of each company are debated in weekly team meetings. Here, everything relevant is addressed, from fundraising strategy and investor targeting to data room and documentation, from presentation skills to due diligence – it’s all covered. Each entrepreneur is uniquely sophisticated, and we adjust how we support them as needed, all the way until the investment is signed and wired.
The process by which this support is given is characterized by two phases:
- Investment Readiness (Phase 1): The EIT Digital Accelerator will review and discuss with the scaleups regarding fundraising material and help them to present their activity accurately in business terms and a structure familiar to financial investors. The fundraising material includes a crisp Two-Liner, a One-page Teaser, and a Pitch Deck. In addition, the Accelerator will coach the management and founders of the scaleups via individual and group training to professionalize presentation techniques and skills in order to make the best impression and selling point to potential investors.
- Meeting Investors (Phase 2): After successfully completing the first phase of the Access to Finance Program, the Accelerator will introduce potential investors from its ecosystem to the scaleups. The objective of these introductions is to trigger interest from potential investors who may request follow-up meetings and discussions.
What can the finalists of the EIT Digital Challenge expect from the exclusive closed-door event?
Each of the 20 selected finalists will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Brussels for the final event. At this exclusive event, finalists will have private access to dozens of VCs. And of course, they’ll do so in the company of other high-performing scaleups from across Europe. The highlight of the day will be a pitch competition where each finalist can make the case for why they will be Europe’s next digital unicorn.
The day will wrap up with a VIP dinner where all finalists will have yet another chance to hold direct conversations with VCs. While the five winners will walk away with a spot in the EIT Digital Accelerator program, all 20 finalists will receive free marketing promotion by EIT Digital, acknowledging their prominent place amongst Europe’s best deep tech scaleups.
Are there any additional benefits companies should expect by accessing the EIT Digital Accelerator program?
Besides everything mentioned above, the Accelerator will provide a variety of growth and support services to scaleups to allow them to expand throughout and possibly beyond Europe. For example:
- EXCLUSIVE INVESTOR MEETINGS & EVENTS – Targeted connections to the right VCs and corporate venture funds & access to exclusive investor events.
- EXPERTISE ON DEEP TECH SCALEUPS – Our team is composed of experts with engineering backgrounds that understand well the potential of technologies and their related business models.
- MARKET READINESS – Via the support of a dedicated team of Business Developers, the Accelerator will provide support to scaleups to get ready to launch their business in one or more European countries or even the US.
- STRATEGIC COACHING – Provisioning of expert coaching and strategic advice to accelerate growth & go-to-market strategies to commercialize mature technologies and innovative solutions.
- ACCESS TO MARKET – EIT Digital Accelerator will actively support scaleups by identifying international prospects and facilitating introductions.
Ready to scale your business with EIT? Apply for the EIT Digital Challenge today!
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