To reveal the lucky ones selected, the Ministry of Economy and Luxinnovation have put the little dishes in the big ones and have summoned all the press. Rendez-vous with the Ministry this Thursday, October 15th to discover the official list. The selected startups are active in the fields of ICT, health and space technologies. The Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, and the CEO of Luxinnovation, the national agency for the promotion of innovation, Sasha Baillie, also took the opportunity to take stock of this program, five years after launch.
Photo (from left to right): Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy, Tom Michels, CEO of Salonkee, Kevin Muller, Founder & CEO of Passbolt and Aida Nazari, Co-founder & CMO of LuxAI / Credits © Ministry of the Economy
A few days after the end of the pitches for the 79 finalist startups – out of the 476 applications received – it was time for the final composition of this new “batch” of startups that integrates the prestigious public support and acceleration program.
Initiated in 2015 by the Ministry of Economy, the Fit 4 Start program is implemented by Luxinnovation, in collaboration with Technoport, Luxembourg-City Incubator and Luxembourg Space Agency. It aims to support startups from their startup phase. The program offers startups a financing of 50k euros and coaching adapted to their needs over a period of 4 months. In addition, an additional 100k euros is granted to startups that have successfully completed the entire Fit 4 Start program and succeeded in raising private capital within six months.
“I am delighted with the program’s tremendous development over the past five years. The growing interest of startups worldwide in Fit 4 Start demonstrate its relevance and importance in the startup ecosystem, both nationally and internationally,” said Minister of Economy Franz Fayot.
Out of the 10 editions organized since 2015, 1835 startups have applied, 78 (including 54 from Luxembourg) have been selected and 56 have graduated. Over the same period, the startups have raised more than 15.2 million euros from private investors. And as good news never comes alone, the Passbolt startup, which graduated in the third edition, announced a new fundraising round of 1.1 million euros during the press conference (see our article “Passbolt raises 1.1 million euros“). Its founder and CEO Kevin Muller also took the opportunity to share his niceties: “Fit 4 Start is a catalyst for growth that helps startups steer their launch pad in the right direction: the moon”.
“This program has achieved two objectives: to attract international start-ups to Luxembourg and to be the springboard for Luxembourg-based startups to go global”, commented Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation. “Fit 4 Start allows a real exchange and collaboration between the two, while acting as an effective tool for marketing and branding Luxembourg internationally. »
476 applicants, 79 selected, 20 winners
For the 10th edition of the Fit 4 Start program, 476 startups from 60 countries applied for the call launched this summer. In the end, 79 startups pitched between the end of September and the beginning of October before a jury of experts. In addition to Kevin Muller, Tom Michels, CEO of Salonkee shared his experience following his participation in the 6th edition of Fit 4 Start. “The program challenged all our initial assumptions about growth and market strategy. Shortly afterwards, we closed a €1 million financing round that led us on an unprecedented growth path”. The horizon is also promising for the startup to give itself the means to achieve its ambitions.
What can we also say about the startup LuxAI which, six years after announcing a fund raising of €2 million euros, is taking off commercially. “Fit 4 Start is an incredible program that helps you plan your entrepreneurial roadmap in a strategic way”, testified Aida Nazari, the co-founder and CMO of the winning startup of the 7th edition.
In the end, 20 startups have won their place in this 10th edition: 10 in the field of ICT – CleverYak, Cybavo, EmoHack, iRoboInvest, Kidola, Re(D)scue, SM Cloud, TiQuest, Zetako, 5 in health technologies – Meracle pte Ltd, Myelin H, Organo Therapeutics, PatchAI, Wavy Assistant, and 5 in the space sector – Numer8, OKAPI:Orbits, ReOrbit: AB, SPiN, Vingineers. These companies come from 11 different countries (see the full list of selected startups on Startup Luxembourg).
#Fit4Start 📣 Well done to the 476 #startups from 60 countries who responded to our call for the 10th edition 🙏. We have the pleasure to announce the 20 selected #startups. 🏆Congratulations to them all! Full list available here 👇https://t.co/yBoJLgwTRR#ICT #heathtech #space pic.twitter.com/8soVWCG3PR
— Luxinnovation (@Luxinnovation) October 15, 2020
In tandem with the press conference, the startups were invited to a webinar to get to know the chosen ones. As soon as the announcement was made, several of them shared with us their joy at having been selected.
“We are happy and grateful that Zetako has been selected for the 10th edition of the Fit 4 Start program. Our technology is complex and difficult to comprehend and therefore I want to thank the Jury and the people in F4S for having trust and faith in us and we look forward to making everyone proud of our technology being rolled-out from Luxembourg. Having been selected means a gear change for us as we can immediately start looking to expand our team with experienced Software engineers as well as Data Scientists who would like to work on what will be the standard for Lossless Data Compression for decades to come,” said Claus Rosenberg Gotthard, CEO of Zetako.
Total surprise also for Ben Thinnes, Ceasy‘s CEO. “At the first moment, I couldn’t believe it! My fingers were shaking, when I messaged my friends and family. They are all so happy that I finally succeeded, having spent so much time and energy in this project. It means a lot to me, it is a confirmation that if you believe in yourself and just stay strong and keep going, you can slowly but surely convince more and more people of your business idea. With the help and expertise of the Fit 4 Start programme, we can now not only better shape our business model but help the people during this crisis better organise themselves digitally. In the future, we can support the event industry with our public calendars. We will later help other time aggregators like Salonkee or Doctena to get more traffic on their site.”
The same goes for Kidola’s co-founders Jonathan Kindermans and Quentin de Madre (see our article “Digitalizing nurseries in Luxembourg and beyond with Kidola“). “We’re really happy to have been selected. Firstly, it validates our project and its viability. It’s always reassuring to have external confirmation. Preparing Fit 4 Start pushed us on a few areas. We had to rework our business plan and solidify our figures. We were fortunate to be helped by several experienced entrepreneurs. Their advice helped us in our selection. External advice has been very valuable to us in order to progress. The Fit 4 Start coaching will help us go even further. Being selected for Fit 4 Start will also allow us to accelerate our commercial growth. The support of Fit 4 Start and the financing will allow us to start online advertising. We want to reach more crèches in Luxembourg and France. We need to take it up a notch!”
The stress was also palpable at TiQuest, (see our article “Digitzing paper receipts with TiQuest“) who wrote these words from the heart. “This was our second time participating at the Fit 4 Start competition as we already pitched 1 year ago for the 9th edition. Unfortunately preparation was not good enough, as we only reached a place on the waiting list. This contretemps gave us even more ambition to improve our product and perfect our pitch to make it happen this time! For the 10th edition, the remote pitching provided us with more to help the jury understand and feel the solution we provide at TiQuest.eu, as we could include a live demo with 4 devices connected showcasing the solution in realtime. After hearing the positive result, we are super happy and have renewed energy and confidence to launch our solution and make our vision a reality in Luxembourg. Stay tuned as we have exciting announcements to deliver as Christmas gifts for residents and businesses in Luxembourg.”
In conclusion, let’s not forget to congratulate the 14 graduated startups of the ninth edition: 6 ICT startups – Anote Music, DataCue, Quantego, Rebolet, Symvio, WearHealth, 4 from HealthTech – Cohesys, HuMiX Biosciences, Sanascope (Xscope), ViewMind, and 4 from SpaceTech – GlobeEye, NoHunger, RespectUs, WEO (see the full of graduated startups on Startup Luxembourg).
See you in early 2021 for the next call for entries. Only interested startups will be able to refine their projects and pitch.