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EU|BIC Excellence Awards: Meet the Semi-Finalists contending for Most Impactful Programme

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Celebrating the EBN’s 40 year anniversary

The European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN) proudly marks its 40-year anniversary. Since its inception, the EBN has been dedicated to supporting EU|BICs (European Business and Innovation Centres) across the continent. As we enter 2024, the EBN is resharpening its mission to identify, commemorate, share, and showcase the most effective practices within the EU|BIC community. To achieve this, the EU|BIC Excellence Awards have been established.

The EU|BIC Excellence Awards will recognise outstanding contributions by EU|BICs. The winner will be decided by attendees and announced during the EBN Congress 2024 in Nantes, which is jointly organised with EU|BIC Atlanpole.

Without further ado, let’s introduce the EU|BICs contending for the title of Most Impactful Programme in the EBN Excellence Awards 2024.

Prishtina REA – ICT for Kosovos Growth

prishtina rea european business and innovation centre

The project is designed to address the lack of skilled workforce in Kosovo ICT sector by providing advanced ICT training for students, graduated students from computer sciences, engineering, programming, and mathematics, even for staff from ICT companies, start-ups, and freelancers. The project seeks to improve the digital knowledge and skills of young people to enable them to secure their employment and future careers in ICT sector, start their own businesses as start-ups in existing Kosovo innovation or incubation centres, or to become an ICT freelancer/consultant. The project also contributes to increasing the business skills of ICT companies and promoting their products through the organisation of targeted business and management training, B2B events in EU countries.

More about the EU|BIC — More about the programme

Laval Mayenne Technopole – Challenge Compétences

Organized since 2011, this program created by Laval Mayenne Technopole and Laval’s Ecole des Arts et Métiers enables companies in Mayenne to mobilize the skills and know-how of students from the department’s higher education establishments to generate new innovation projects. Over the course of a week, a team of 4 or 5 students visits the company, then takes part in a creativity session to generate new ideas based on their skills, and chooses with the company to develop an idea to the model stage. The only instruction given to the companies is that they must not submit a work topic to the students, but rather let their fresh eyes and skills generate new ideas. The challenge has a number of objectives, with the aim of bringing together students and companies from Mayenne to promote development and innovation: – Promote the skills available in MayenneRaise students’ awareness of creativity and innovationPromote Mayenne companies and their innovationsInitiate projects within Mayenne companies.

laya mayenne european business and innovation centre

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Bilisim Vadisi – Digiage

bilisim vadisi european business and innovation centre

DIGIAGE (Digital Game and Animation Center) program, which was designed to prevent inequality of opportunity in technology, to reach young talents in the digital gaming industry and to bring the discovered talent to a level that turns it into business, started its activities as a game cluster center in Bilisim Vadisi in 2019. Aiming to contribute to the game development ecosystem and enable young people to benefit more from the global digital economy, DIGIAGE organizes workshops, camps and trainings on a sector basis. It continues to organize two game development camps every year, summer and winter, since 2019. A total of 18000+ applications were made to these camps from 71 different cities and 30 different countries. 3200+ online and 1440+ physical people attended the camps. 250+ games developed. With the knowledge and experience it gained, DIGIAGE became the spin-off company of Bilisim Vadisi and started working as an incorporated company in January 2023. To entrepreneurs; it provides support on issues such as legal, accounting, team, training and investor negotiations, from company establishment to series A investment processes.

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CEEIM – La Innoteca

INNOTECA – The Young Inventors contest of the Region of Murcia (South-East of Spain) rewards the most innovative technical idea (multi-field/sectorial) with the aim of promoting creativity, innovation, and collaboration among young students, encouraging the generation of disruptive ideas and inventions with a high potential impact. This initiative targets students (individual or small groups) enrolled in secondary schools from Murcia (third/fourth year of the secondary school, Baccalaureate, and vocational training). The goal is for students to present proposals, that can be real or potential, which in the future could be the object of business development and become marketable. The reward of the contest consists in the support, by a technical consulting company specialized in Intellectual Property, to patent the product/service… To the date, 4 utility models have been officially registered out of the 154 inventive projects presented to the contest.

ceeim european business and innovation centre

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CEEI Castellón – CV Innova

ceei castellon european business and innovation centre

CV Innova is a pioneering program dedicated to fostering international collaboration and addressing the innovation needs of Valencian companies. Through open innovation principles and strategic partnerships, CV Innova connects local businesses with global expertise and resources to develop transformative solutions. By facilitating knowledge transfer and technology exchange, the program enables Valencian companies to access cutting-edge solutions and stay competitive in the global market. CV Innova’s collaborative approach brings together corporates, startups, and research institutions, driving impactful innovation that benefits both local industries and the broader international community. With a focus on real-world application and measurable outcomes, CV Innova serves as a catalyst for growth and advancement, positioning Valencian companies as leaders in innovation on the global stage.

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CyRIC – Gravity Venture Building

Gravity is a cutting-edge venture-building incubator that fosters and propels innovation to our local ecosystem and beyond. Through constant and custom interaction, we empower founders to make a real impact and shape the entrepreneurial community of tomorrow. Our approach focuses on building startups from early-stage to mature ventures by assisting them in all the necessary steps and being with them throughout their journey. Gravity is not a fly by, we stay with founders for the long haul and help them grow.

cyric european business and innovation centre

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CEIN – CEIN Health

cein european business and innovation centre

CEIN HEALTH is a regional annual based programme that offers an integrated itinerary to support, promote and accelerate innovative business projects and startups/scaleups in the health field in Navarra, setting up their business, their market launch and their commercial development with its first-class services and professionals. It acts in all the phases of the business creation process involving the main stakeholders of the ecosystem. CEIN HEALTH works mainly in 3 areas: MEDICAL DEVICES (MedTech), DIGITAL HEALTH (e-Health) and BIOTECH. It is aimed at entrepreneurs, startups/scaleups, health professionals and researchers with innovative ideas or projects related to the health sector that are located in Navarra. Its itinerary offers 7 services: o Project acceleration to help structure and launch health startups o Startup scaling to develop startups o Masterclass and trends o Health innovation Academy o International development and projection o Access and connections with Navarra Health Ecosystem o Business incubation center services.

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BIC Gipuzkoa – Bio Experience

The strategic commitment of the Basque Country to the development of new business activities in the biosciences and health sector has prompted BIC Gipuzkoa to create an advanced, competitive and global Bio Experience Programme which promotes the development and consolidation of the biotechnology sector. The objectives are:

  • Promote new business projects
  • Support and specialized services throughout the entire process, accelerating the transformation of ideas into entrepreneurial projects
  • Valorization of projects
  • Specialized training
    The programme starts with valorization and selection of the projects, where we provide technical and expert services for the validation and commercialisation of advanced technologies. In the pre-incubation phase we provide support in IP strategy, business and financial strategy and business plan. In the Incubation phase, apart from physical space and shared laboratories, we offer scientific and technological services of technical and business consultancy. During the programme we offer training, specific finance and networking.
bic gipuzkoa european business and innovation centre

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Berytech – Act Smart Innovation Hub

berytech european business and innovation centre

The ACT (Agrifood Clean Tech) Smart Innovation Hub takes a sector-wide approach for economic growth by stimulating innovators to put their creativity at the service of the agrifood and cleantech sectors, encouraging them to develop solutions to the challenges faced by Lebanon and the globe through:

  1. Sector specific Accelerators: Agrytech and Clyntech accelerators, nurturing innovations in agrifood and clean technology.
  2. Business & innovation Clusters: Berytech launched QOOT cluster to enhance Lebanon’s agrifood sector and is establishing Two New clusters in waste valorization and renewable energy. These clusters aim to foster innovation, competitiveness, and market access, focusing on governance and sustainability.
  3. Growth Accelerator: The ScaleSmart Accelerator assists startups in scaling and securing funding, emphasizing investment readiness.
  4. EcoSystem Partner Development: capacitates and supports five Lebanese regional to nurture entrepreneurs in the abovementioned sectors, guiding them towards accelerator programs. The Program was launched in 2019 and revamped in 2023 for 4 additional years.

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Sploro – Empowomen

EmpoWomen is a 2-year programme aiming to tackle the underrepresentation of women in the deep-tech sector in the Widening Area Countries. 25 women-led companies will participate in a unique acceleration programme and get services, awards and 45,000 euros in equity-free funding per startup in two different open calls.

sploro european business and innovation centre

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Valmiera – Vidzeme innovation programme for students

A sustainable support system which:

  • within the study or education process strengthens the innovation literacy and entrepreneurship spirit of Vidzeme’s youth,
  • has promoted the strong cooperation of Vidzeme university and students with industry and entrepreneurs, and
  • has enabled the development of practical solutions to the challenges offered by industry.
    A complex and multifaceted support mechanism was introduced, which promoted and strengthened mutual cooperation between students, the industry and municipalities, providing the opportunity to engage in two different activities: Innovation Laboratory (solutions for industry) and Business Laboratory (support for new business ideas). The project was implemented in strategic cooperation between Vidzeme University, Valmiera Development Agency and Ventspils University, also involving Vidzeme University Student Board, LIAA Valmiera Business Incubator, Vidzeme University Foundation and industry associations matching the profile of Vidzeme University.

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Lappeenranta – South Karelia Growth Builders

The Southern Karelia Growth Builders is an eight-month initiative aimed at accelerating the growth of companies. It provides tailored support and tools to 10 SMEs in Southern Karelia, focusing on businesses employing 10-49 individuals. During the program, participants collaborate with experts to create a growth roadmap and receive support for its implementation. The program includes workshops and Growth Board meetings, fostering cross-pollination of ideas among growth-oriented companies. Encounters between like-minded companies and students can lead to new activities such as investments and job creation. The program operates ecosystemically, emphasizing networking impact. Additionally, portfolio entrepreneurship benefits both small businesses and those in the Mittelstand category, including large subcontractors and leading companies.

lappeenranta european business and innovation centre

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Inkubator Sezana – Kreative Startup Programme

inkubato sezana european business and innovation centre

The Creative Start-up program: Entrepreneurial School for People with Hearing Loss was established to enhance social inclusion for individuals with hearing loss in entrepreneurial skills. It aimed to provide practical knowledge in soft entrepreneurial skills, promote lifelong learning, and facilitate integration into the labor market. Key activities included developing a tailored curriculum, conducting creative thinking training, and implementing entrepreneurial ideas. Implemented by Incubator Sežana in 2022 and 2023, it’s the first school in Slovenia and Europe for varying degrees of hearing loss. Participants developed entrepreneurial ideas, learned company establishment, and utilized lean entrepreneurship tools for disabled individuals. Mentorship enabled Slovenian participants to embark on independent entrepreneurial journeys.

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A 4-week programme, organised in person at IPN in Coimbra. It’s designed for entrepreneurs, researchers, and startups aiming to validate early-stage technology-based business ideas or advanced services. Participants benefit from structured workshops, networking opportunities, and mentorship sessions led by experienced professionals. The programme covers four modules: Innovation and Business Models, Marketing for Startups, Business Planning and Funding, and Pitching Skills. By the end, participants are expected to have refined their business ideas, expanded their networks, and identified funding sources. The culmination of the programme is a Demo Day, where participants showcase their ideas to an audience of investment funds, companies, and relevant entities. The emphasis on practical skills, networking, and exposure to potential investors makes INEO START a valuable resource for those seeking to develop and grow their tech startups. IPN organizes INEO START since 2010, being the oldest acceleration programme in Portugal.

ipn european business and innovation centre

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Valmiera – Zile

valmiera european business and innovation centre

The business support programme provides support – funding, advice, information, education, consultancy, expertise – to existing companies, start-ups, and freelancers to encourage innovations, development, export, the creation of new jobs, public and private partnerships, and social entrepreneurship. The gaps in the innovation support ecosystem and the need for more innovations and innovative companies in the region inspired Valmiera Development Agency to develop a business support programme ZILE with the local municipality and other stakeholders. The programme’s support has allowed its participants to develop. Two-thirds of the companies have increased turnover and profit. An increase in turnover means higher taxes paid, which brings more funds for development to the municipal budget. During the six-year period of the programme, 68 new jobs were created, which is an essential contribution for such a small support programme and a small municipality. Within the programme, enterprises have created 37 innovative products services or prototypes.

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Fundingbox – Seeds of Bravery

Based on a detailed analysis of the situation of UA Innovation Ecosystem after Russian invasion, the programme aims to provide support to counteract the harm done to Ukrainian startups and deep tech SMEs, increasing the role of innovators and the deep tech industry in driving growth. This will be achieved through a comprehensive portfolio of support services that combine cascade funding (10k-25k-50k grants), access to finance actions (connecting to public funds and private investors, training on EIC, EIT and other cascading opportunities etc.), deep-tech-focused incubation and acceleration programmes, and market access. Pan-European will also be a key component of this project. At least 400 innovators, start-ups and deep tech SMEs located in UA or created by Ukrainian citizens in other EU countries after 24.02.2022 will benefit from said support, with many others expected to access non-financial support while seeking other sources of funding.

fundingox european business and innovation centre

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