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EIT Digital Accelerator - Accelerator of the month
02 March 2021·6 min read

Magdalena Balcerzak

Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - EIT Digital Accelerator

Powered by an unrivaled pan-European network of corporates and investors, EIT Digital Accelerator helps fast-growing, ambitious digital companies raise €3-20M funding, find customers and scale up internationally. The accelerator focuses on growth-stage startups and scaleups with digital technology solutions in the areas of finance, wellbeing, cybersecurity, mobility, cities, manufacturing, retail, and logistics.

EIT Digital Accelerator team of business and financial experts has strong industry expertise across multiple digital areas (SaaS, AI, Deep Tech, etc.) and tracks record of success, having raised over €130 million for its portfolio companies.  Examples of recent successful funding rounds include SidekickHealth – €17 million raised for this Nordic digital therapeutics company and  CashDirector - €3 million raised for this AI-enabled Digital CFO for SMEs.

EIT Digital Accelerator operates across Europe with offices in Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Hungary. As a trusted body of the European Commission, EIT Digital’s mission is to support the best European ventures to become digital champions.

Accelerator Strategy Overview 


Geography: EU-27 countries, UK, Horizon 2020 Associated countries
Preferred industries: Digital tech-based solutions with use cases in fields such as manufacturing, logistics, retail, financial and insurance services, mobility, cities, wellbeing.
Company stage: growth stage (post-seed stage, Pre-series A, Series A)
Product stage: product on the market, solid traction
Product type: B2B, B2C, B2B2C
Revenues: Yes, min €80k


Duration: 1 year active, 2 year follow up
Participation fee:  Fixed fee plus success fees on commercial and fundraising deals facilitated by the program. Equity-free model. 
Equity Investment: No 
Grant: No 
No of batches per year: No batches, rolling admission
No of startups in a cohort: 40-50 companies admitted annually. Supported in total over 370 companies.

Q&A with Shehryar Piracha, Head of EIT Digital Accelerator

What are the 5 most important things you look for in a startup applying to your acceleration program?

There are few aspects of startups that we really pay attention to while looking for ones suitable for our acceleration program. Those that we want to highlight are:

  • Having innovative and scalable product or service based on digital technologies (software or hardware) and a solid USP
  • €800k ARR or €4M total funding already raised
  • Looking to raise €3-20M funding (Series A and B) in the next 12 months from European investors
  • Looking to expand to other geographical markets in Europe from a strong home country position
  • Sizable and balanced team (10+ people)

What startups should take into account before applying to your acceleration program? 

Startup willing to apply to our acceleration program should necessarily consider two things:

  • If a startup plans to raise Series A or B funding and engage in international expansion in the next 12 months.
  • If a startup commits sufficient team resources to follow up corporate customer leads.

When both of the mentioned aspects are met the company is welcome to join us.

Can you share some of the red flags that can disqualify a startup from joining your accelerator?

As mentioned before, we set up some admission criteria like raising Series A or B, planning to engage in international expansion and committing sufficient resources, for startups who want to develop their business under our wings. Any of those aspects missing should be considered as a red flag warning for companies that want to be considered to be a part of our network.

What are the most valuable skills that selected startups can develop thanks to your program?

We provide services rather than specific mentoring or training in our acceleration program. However, our team is made of senior professionals with vast experience in business development and venture capital, who advise and prepare the startups on how to be more effective in closing deals with potential customers, strategic partners or investors.

How does your accelerator support portfolio companies during and after the program?

During the active support period (12 months), we provide customized support, including Access to Finance and Access to Market services. 

Our Access-to-Finance fundraising team helps startups and scaleups raise Series A and B rounds from €3-20M, putting the focus on International VCs and Corporate Venture funds.

Access to Finance (A2F) services include: 

  1. Helping maximize investment conditions, creating competition and momentum
  2. Preparing the necessary materials (teaser, pitch deck, etc.)
  3. Coaching and refining the investor pitch and business plan
  4. Making introductions to European investors (VCs, CVCs, National Funds, Family Offices)

Our Access-to-Market business development team supports our portfolio companies with their European expansion by connecting them to corporate buyers.  

Access to Market (A2M) services include:

  1. Helping define go-to-market strategy per geographical market/vertical
  2. Refining the pitch and sales materials
  3. Defining target lists per market/vertical
  4. Generating qualified leads/introductions with corporate customers

Among other benefits, companies can get access to EIT Digital’s pan-European ecosystem of corporate, research, and academic partners, and  talent pool from EIT Digital’s education programs 

After the active period, we have a follow-up period of up to 24 months, where we:

  • Support in the follow up of leads generated during the active period
  • Generate additional qualified leads and introductions to investors on an opportunistic basis

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio? 

Some notable examples of companies in our portfolio include:

  • Konux (Germany) – raised a total of €110M in multiple funding rounds
  • Metron (France) – raised a total of €22M in multiple funding rounds,
  • Sidekick Health (Iceland) – raised €17M through our support,
  • Synerise (Poland) – first corporate customers in Spain and France through our program,
  • CheckpointCardio (Bulgaria) – closed a 6 figure deal through our support.

What key lessons have you learned from projects that didn’t work out the way you expected?

From our experience, the main reason why some companies struggled to realize their full potential and take the most from our support include: 

  • Lack of proper resources allocated by the startup what affected its capabilities to convert leads to deals.
  • Niche verticals targeted
  • Narrow use cases
  • Wrong timing for scaleups to raise capital (too early)
  • Value proposition not differentiated

Why, in your opinion, accelerators are becoming more popular nowadays?

Accelerators like EIT Digital help bridge a void for companies looking to scale internationally, by providing access to first customers and partners in new markets and international investors, acting as validators for the corporates and investors.

What are the hottest markets you currently look at as an accelerator and where do you see the biggest hype?

Besides the more active hubs in Europe for digital startups (London / UK, Paris / France, Berlin / Germany, Tel Aviv / Israel) we see great developments in markets like Poland, with a great base of talent, increased access to funding at all levels, and an ecosystem of enterprises willing to onboard innovative tech.

Do you have any predictions about the key trends that will shape the European accelerator scene in the near future?

Accelerators will become more specialized and outcome-driven. Corporate accelerators will evolve into venture client programs, focusing on business challenges and pilots with scaleups with a clear potential of implementation at scale.



Related Posts: 

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Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Elevator Lab (by Magdalena Balcerzak, Manager, Vestbee)

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - ABC Accelerator (by Magdalena Balcerzak, Manager, Vestbee)

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