EIT Digital Challenge 2021 Just Launched in Search of Europe’s Best Deep Tech Scaleup

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The EIT Digital Challenge, the leading competition for European digital deep tech companies, is now accepting applications. Fast-growing startups with existing customers – so-called scaleups – are invited to apply in one of five thematic areas: Digital Tech, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing, and Digital Finance. The best three companies will receive prizes totaling €250,000 in cash and in kind. The application deadline is 10 May 2021.

Scaling up European Deep Tech Ventures

EIT Digital focuses on building and scaling ventures, and on breeding and up-skilling talents to equip them with both digital and entrepreneurial skills.

“It is our ambition to help companies overcome the fragmented European market and successfully grow across the continent. The EIT Digital Challenge is our key instrument to identify the best European deep tech entrepreneurs and help them, through our Accelerator, to raise funds, access new markets, and scale up internationally. We support them to become leading companies on the global market and enhance Europe’s competitiveness in digital,” says EIT Digital Chief Innovation Officer Chahab Nastar.

The EIT Digital Accelerator provides tailor-made support for high-growth European tech scaleups by helping them secure international customers and raise capital, thanks to a pan-European, distributed team of business developers and fundraising experts. Since 2012, the EIT Digital Accelerator has supported startups and scaleups from 18 countries that have raised over 1 billion Euro in investment.

The EIT Digital Challenge provides international growth support & visibility for deep tech scaleups innovating in five main categories:

  • Digital Tech: Inventing the digital future with core technologies providing secure, robust, responsive, and intelligent communications and computation.
  • Digital Cities: Serving the cities with digital technologies addressing urban mobility, citizen inclusiveness and engagement, and city safety.
  • Digital Industry: The digital transformation of the industry, from production to logistics to retail.
  • Digital Wellbeing: Safeguarding health for the youth, the working professional, and the elderly by analyzing sensor data.
  • Digital Finance: The disruption of digital transactions and institutions with technologies that allow transparency, efficiency, security, and trust.

How the EIT Digital Challenge Benefits your Scaleup

Since its launch in 2014, the EIT Digital Challenge has attracted more than 2,500 entries from all over Europe. Prominent award winners include KONUX, Medicus.AI, or SidekickHealth, digital technology scaleups that have become internationally successful companies. Being awarded by the EIT Digital Challenge represents a significant milestone for scaleups.

In 2021, 20 selected companies will be invited to an exclusive event in autumn, where they will pitch to a jury of high-profile corporates and investors. “A total of 3 winners will be announced during this event, one Challenge winner and two runners-up. They all will receive a full year of tailored support from the EIT Digital Accelerator, valued at €50,000. On top of that, the Challenge winner will receive a cash prize of €100,000,” says Shehryar Piracha, Head of the EIT Digital Accelerator.

Last year, a record number of 403 scaleups from 32 countries applied for the competition. Almost 40% of applicants, 55% of the 20 finalists, and 3 out of 5 winners (that is 60%) feature women as founders or C-level executives. With average revenues of €1.4M, average funding of €7.6M, and average staff of more than 40, the 2020 laureates are the most mature prize winners in the 7-year history of the Challenge. Last November, Europe’s best Deep Tech scaleups were awarded:

  • Deepomatic (FR) – a no-code visual automation platform to support field operations with computer vision applications
  • Icometrix (BE) – helps effectively quantify brain abnormalities through an AI-powered imaging solution
  • SwipeGuide (NL) – intelligent work instructions and procedures via augmented apps to improve productivity on the factory floor
  • Targomo (DE) – location intelligence solution to optimize retail networks, deliver better public services and improve real estate searches
  • Wishibam (FR) – enables the creation of scalable marketplaces based on real-time store inventory

Being awarded by the EIT Digital Challenge represents a significant milestone for scaleups on the verge to grow and expand internationally. The 5 awarded companies joined the EIT Digital Accelerator to receive international growth support to scale up their business internationally.

“Winning the EIT Digital Challenge was a huge recognition for the work of our team and being named by EIT Digital as the best deep tech startup in Europe was really meaningful at this point in time – the beginning of our scaleup stage”, says Augustin Marty, CEO & Co-Founder of Deepomatic, who won the 1st prize of the EIT Digital Challenge in 2020.

Is your scaleup eligible to apply?

Your Deep Tech scaleup is eligible for joining the EIT Digital Challenge 2021 if it meets the following criteria:

  • Nationality: You are incorporated in the EU 27 + Horizon Europe associated countries (full list here)
  • Innovative Product/Service: You have an innovative digital product or service in one of the five Deep Tech thematic areas:
    • Digital Tech, Digital Industry, Digital Finance, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing
    • Additional Information on the Focus Area/Categories here
  • Founding Year: Your company is less than 10 years old (01/01/2011)
  • Maturity: Your business is at the growth stage and ready to scale internationally, to be proven by meeting one of the following criteria:
    • minimum revenue of €300,000 in 2020, or
    • minimum revenue of €300,000 in 2021 until the date of submission, or
    • minimum €2,000,000 of total funding

Now it’s your turn to become the next European success story! To learn more & apply, visit the EIT Digital Challenge website. Applications close on 10 May 2021.



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