As one of the leading pan-European competitions, the EIT Digital Challenge aims to identify the best European deep tech entrepreneurs and help them scale internationally. Since its launch in 2014, the contest has attracted thousands of applications from more than 33 European countries. Back for its ninth edition, the EIT Digital Challenge seeks fast-growing companies with a differentiated product offering in Digital Technology, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing and Digital Finance. Many of the previous winning scaleups have gone on to become internationally successful companies.
Discover SidekickHealth: An EIT Digital Success Story
In 2019, Nordic Digital Therapy (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.
As of January 2020, Sidekick has been actively supported by fundraising experts from the EIT Digital Accelerator Access to Finance team. The team’s experts helped Sidekick launch and coordinate a round that closed at $20 million. The round was led by Wellington Partners (Germany) and ASABYS Partners (Spain), with participation from existing investors Novator (UK) and Frumtak Ventures (Iceland).
“The EIT Digital Accelerator team provided critical support throughout this process and were key to the successful closure of our fundraiser: in addition to providing invaluable feedback and advice, their systematic management of the process and coordinated efforts allowed us to meet with all stakeholders. suitable investors. across Europe in a very short period of time,” says Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, CEO and co-founder of SidekickHealth.
Learn more from EIT Digital’s fundraising specialists
We spoke to Francisco Ibañez Diez and Daniel Auriel, fundraising specialists from the EIT Digital Funding Access team to find out more about the prize (entry into the EIT Digital Accelerator worth €50,000) and about the EIT Digital Challenge .
SidekickHealth’s success is inspiring: what are the key factors that, in your opinion, enable growing companies to make the most of a partnership with the EIT Digital Accelerator programme?
Sidekick Health was definitely a great story. The credit is theirs. They are one of the best teams we’ve ever worked with on the show – they were so quick and efficient that, to be honest, we could barely keep up with them.
In general, scaleups get the most value from participating in the EIT Digital accelerator when they come in well prepared but are still eager to learn. Those founders who have put a lot of thought into the details of their business will be in a great position to act with the expert advice that EIT Digital’s finance access team can provide.
Based on your experience, why do you think EIT Digital is ideally placed to help start-ups and expanding companies raise funds and accelerate their businesses?
Our team of technology finance specialists know what it takes for digital businesses to get financing from professional venture capital investors. Our knowledge of the financing process and deep understanding of the demanding requirements of investors make all the difference in the success of your financing.
Leveraging a network of over 1,000 investors, EIT Digital Accelerator has directly facilitated over €130 million in investments for its portfolio companies. In total, the portfolio and alumni scaleups have raised nearly €1 billion.
Also, one of the challenges of fundraising startups is attracting the attention of investors, 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 take advantage of our place in the EU Commission ecosystem when we “cold reach” investors outside of our original network while continually exploring potential matches for our portfolio companies.
The EU Commission brand is known by almost everyone, everywhere, and players belonging to this ecosystem are recognized as serious, credible and professional. This allows us to open many doors that might not otherwise react to cold outreach efforts.
Can you introduce our readers to the EIT Digital finance access team? What are their functions and how can scaleups benefit from interacting with them?
The Access-to-Finance team is comprised of senior individuals with diverse and complementary backgrounds. They all have direct start-up and/or venture capital experience, meaning they have all been on one or both sides of the fundraising/investing fence. Each one closely covers 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 entire team collectively, as each company’s progress and challenges are discussed in weekly team meetings. Everything relevant is covered here, from fundraising strategy and investor selection to data room and documentation, from presentation skills to due diligence – everything is covered. Every entrepreneur is uniquely sophisticated, and we adjust the way we support you as needed, until the investment is signed and transferred.
The process by which this support is given is characterized by two phases:
- Investment Preparation (Phase 1): EIT Digital Accelerator will review and discuss fundraising material with scaleups and help them 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, Accelerator will train scaleup founders and management through individual and group training to professionalize presentation techniques and skills to make the best impression and sales pitch to potential investors.
- Investor meeting (Phase 2): After successfully completing the first phase of the Access to Funding Program, Accelerator will introduce potential investors from its ecosystem to the scaleups. The purpose of these presentations is to spark the interest of potential investors who may request follow-up meetings and discussions.
What can EIT Digital Challenge finalists expect from the exclusive behind closed doors event?
Each of the 20 selected finalists will receive an all-expense paid trip to Brussels for the final event. In this exclusive event, finalists will have private access to dozens of VCs. And, of course, they will do it in the company of other high-performance scaleups from all over Europe. The highlight of the day will be a pitching competition where each finalist will be able to explain why they will be Europe’s next digital unicorn.
The day will conclude with a VIP dinner where all finalists will have another opportunity to have direct conversations with the venture capitalists. While the five winners will earn a place in the EIT Digital Accelerator programme, the 20 finalists will receive a free marketing promotion from EIT Digital, recognizing their prominent place among the best deep tech companies in Europe.
Are there any additional benefits companies should expect from accessing the EIT Digital Accelerator programme?
In addition to all of the above, Accelerator will provide a variety of growth and support services to expanding businesses to enable them to expand across Europe and possibly beyond. For example:
- MEETINGS AND EXCLUSIVE EVENTS FOR INVESTORS – Targeted connections to the right VCs and corporate venture funds and access to exclusive investor events.
- DEEP TECH STAIRS EXPERIENCE – Our team is made up of experts with engineering backgrounds who have a good understanding of the potential of the technologies and their related business models.
- MARKET PREPARATION – Through the support of a dedicated team of Business Developers, Accelerator will support scaleups in preparing to launch their business in one or more European countries or even the US.
- STRATEGIC COACHING – Provision of expert coaching and strategic advice to accelerate growth and go-to-market strategies to commercialize mature technologies and innovative solutions.
- MARKET ACCESS – EIT Digital Accelerator will actively support extensions 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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