As one of the leading pan-European leagues, EIT digital challenge aims to identify the best European deep tech entrepreneurs and help them scale internationally. Since its launch in 2014, the competition has attracted thousands of entries from more than 33 European countries. EIT Digital Challenge is back for its ninth edition, looking for fast-growing companies with a differentiated product offering in Digital Tech, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing & Digital Finance. Many of the previous winning scale-ups have grown into internationally successful companies.
Discover SidekickHealth – a digital success story from EIT
In 2019, Nordic Digital Therapeutics (DTx) innovator SidekickHealth participated in the EIT Digital Challenge and was selected from a field of hundreds of candidates as a finalist in the Digital Wellbeing category.
From January 2020, Sidekick was actively supported by the fundraising experts in the Access to Finance team of EIT Digital Accelerator. The team’s experts helped Sidekick launch and coordinate a round that ended at $20 million. The round was led by Wellington Partners (Germany) and ASABYS Partners (Spain), with the participation of existing investors Novator (UK) and Frumtak Ventures (Iceland).
“The EIT Digital Accelerator team provided critical support throughout this process and was key to completing our fundraising successfully: in addition to providing valuable feedback and advice, their systematic management of the process and coordinated efforts enabled us to to meet investors from all over Europe in a very short time,” says Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, CEO and co-founder of SidekickHealth.
Learn more from EIT Digital’s fundraising specialists
We spoke with Francisco Ibañez Diez & Daniel Auriel, fundraising specialists of the Access-to-Finance Team at EIT Digital, to learn more about the prize – participation in the EIT Digital Accelerator worth €50 thousand – and the EIT Digital Challenge.
The success of SidekickHealth is inspiring. What do you think are the key factors that enable scale-ups to get the most out of a partnership with the EIT Digital Accelerator program?
Sidekick Health was indeed a great story. The credit is theirs. They’re one of the best teams we’ve worked with in the program: they were so fast and efficient we could hardly keep up with them, to be honest.
In general, scale-ups get the most value from participating in the EIT Digital Accelerator if they are well prepared but still eager to learn. The founders who have paid close attention to the details of their business are in a prime position to act on the expert advice the EIT Digital access to finance team can provide.
In your experience, why do you believe that EIT Digital is ideally positioned to help startups and scale-ups raise funds and accelerate their business?
Our team of technology finance specialists know what it takes for digital ventures to obtain financing from professional venture capital investors. Our knowledge of the financing process and in-depth understanding of the exacting requirements of investors make all the difference to your financing success.
Leveraging a network of more than 1000 investors, EIT Digital Accelerator has directly facilitated more than €130 million in investments for its portfolio companies. In total, the portfolio and alumni scale-ups have raised almost €1 billion.
Moreover, one of the challenges of fundraising startups is getting the attention of investors, as we all know. Being able to have warm introductions through our extensive “live” network really makes all the difference. Not only that, but we can also leverage our place in the EU Commission’s ecosystem as we ‘cold-reach’ investors outside of our original network, while continuously exploring potential matches for our portfolio companies.
The EU Commission brand is known to almost everyone and 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 fail to respond to cold outreach efforts.
Can you introduce our readers to the EIT Digital Access-to-Finance team? What are the features and how can scale-ups benefit from interacting with them?
The Access-to-Finance team consists of very senior individuals from diverse and complementary backgrounds. They all have direct start-up and/or venture capital experience, ie 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 tens, even hundreds of investors.
Each company participating in the program is mentored and supported by one of them personally, and by the entire team collectively, while each company’s progress and challenges are discussed in weekly team meetings. It covers everything 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 advanced and we adapt the way we support them as needed, all the way until the investment is signed and wired.
The process by which this support is provided is characterized by two phases:
- Investment readiness (phase 1): The EIT Digital Accelerator will review and discuss the scale-ups regarding fundraising materials and help them accurately present their activity in business terms and a structure known to financial investors. The fundraising material includes a clear Two-Liner, a One-Page Teaser and a Pitch Deck. In addition, the Accelerator will coach the management and founders of the scale-ups through individual and group training to professionalize presentation techniques and skills to make the best impression and selling point for 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 scale-ups. The purpose of these introductions is to generate interest from potential investors who can request follow-up meetings and discussions.
What can the EIT Digital Challenge finalists expect from the exclusive closed-door event?
Each of the 20 selected finalists will receive a fully paid trip to Brussels for the closing event. During this exclusive event, finalists will have private access to dozens of VCs. And of course they do so in the company of other high-performing scale-ups from all over Europe. The highlight of the day is a pitch competition where each finalist can argue why they will be Europe’s next digital unicorn.
The day will conclude with a VIP dinner where all finalists will have another chance to have direct conversations with VCs. While the five winners will take home a spot in the EIT Digital Accelerator programme, all 20 finalists will receive a free marketing promotion from EIT Digital, recognizing their prominence among Europe’s best deep tech scale-ups.
Are there any additional benefits businesses can expect from accessing the EIT Digital Accelerator program?
In addition to everything mentioned above, the Accelerator will provide a variety of growth and support services to scale-ups to enable them to expand in and potentially beyond Europe. For example:
- EXCLUSIVE INVESTMENT MEETINGS & EVENTS – Targeted connections to the right VCs and corporate venture funds and access to exclusive investor events.
- EXPERTISE ON DEEP TECH SALE-UPS – Our team consists of experts with technical backgrounds who understand the potential of technologies and their related business models.
- MARKET TOOLS – Through the support of a dedicated team of Business Developers, the Accelerator will support scale-ups to prepare to launch their business in one or more European countries or even the US.
- STRATEGIC COACHING – Providing expert coaching and strategic advice to accelerate growth and go-to-market strategies to commercialize mature technologies and innovative solutions.
- ACCESS TO THE MARKET – EIT Digital Accelerator will actively support scale-ups by identifying international prospects and facilitating introductions.
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