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StartupsVsCovid19: Further Details On This Hackathon

The Ministry of Economy, in collaboration with Luxinnovation and their partners [editor’s note: Technoport, House of Startups, LHOFT and Luxembourg City Incubator] have decided to launch a call for projects ‘StartupsVsCovid19‘. We asked Mario Grotz, Chairman and Management Board Member of Luxinnovation to give us more details on what they’re looking for. You will have ten days, between 20th and 30th April, to propose your ideas. The first selection phase will take place at the beginning of May. And, the announcement of twenty winners will take place in mid-May.
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
photo: Luxinnovation
featured: Mario Grotz

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What do you expect from this contest?

“First of all, this must be placed in the context of a crisis the Luxembourg economy has never experienced before. All economic activities have been heavily impacted. Startups, in particular, are suffering from the freeze on venture capital and the postponement of projects.

However, the hackathon is meant to encourage startups continue to prove their ability to reinvent themselves and develop new ideas in record time. Our ambition is twofold: firstly, we want to support young innovative startups that can contribute to the fight against the economic, health and societal impacts caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Secondly, we want to stimulate the development of technological products and services that serve in this this fight.

What types of projects will be accepted?

“This call for projects concerns all startups established in Luxembourg, without favouring one or the other sector of activity. We expect to receive projects that help improve working conditions and create business opportunities for companies, or proposals concerning better protection of people most vulnerable to the risk of infection (hospital employees, supermarket staff, etc).

Expected projects may also consist of solutions that improve the quality of life of citizens during confinement. This societal aspect is, in our view, as important as the economic or health aspects.

“The members of the jury will base their decisions on the relevance of the idea, quality of its implementation, potential impact as well as its viability to deliver within an implementable budget.”

How will you support the selected projects?

“We will provide funding of up to 150,000 euros which, in itself, is a great first in Luxembourg. The 20 startups that will be selected will therefore have a certain amount of confidence to develop their projects and we will obviously there to guide and advise them. (See our article “Startups called help with the Covid-19 Crisis in Luxembourg“)

I would like to say that we will also be very involved alongside those who will not have been selected or will not have been eligible for this competition. There is no question of concentrating our efforts only on the 20 projects selected.

For all the other startups who don’t make it to the Top 20, we are going to look at the range of existing aid to which they are entitled. If necessary, we will direct them towards economic or financial solutions that specifically meet their needs.

Have you established the selection criteria?

“The members of the jury, which is composed of representatives of the Ministry of Economy, Luxinnovation and their partners, will base their decisions on the relevance of the idea, quality of its implementation, potential impact as well as its viability to deliver within an implementable budget.

These criteria include the interest and relevance of the project in the Luxembourg economic and societal context of the COVID-19 crisis; the consistency of the products, services or technologies proposed or their innovative approach; or the skills and experience of the team in charge of carrying out the project. In addition, the ability to deliver the project within a few months and a realistic and implementable budget proposal.

It goes without saying that the jury members will be free to call upon sector experts in very specific fields, if the need arises.

“There will be a ‘HealthTech’ vertical for this edition [Fit 4 Start Autumn’s edition] and it is likely that the COVID-19 theme will be included in one form or another.”

Is this an evolution of the Fit 4 Start programme that will continue?

“No. It should be kept in mind that this call is in response to an exceptional emergency situation. There is no link with the Fit 4 Start programme as such.

After cancelling the spring edition of Fit 4 Start, we obviously hope for a quick return to normal, which will allow us to launch the call for applications for our autumn edition of this acceleration programme.

There will be a ‘HealthTech’ vertical for this edition and it is likely that the COVID-19 theme will be included in one form or another. Nevertheless, this is not yet a reality…

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