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Co-opetition, our path for putting the spotlight on Central and Eastern Europe

The partnership between MIT EF CEE Accelerator and InnovX Xelerator can be very well be described as a functional Coopetition (a neologism coined to describe cooperative competition, a portmanteau of cooperation and competition). Even if this is just the start, we are confident that by strengthening this bridge, we will help innovative startups scale faster and establishing CEE as an important hub for innovation and technology in the world.

Please tell us how you cooperate with the MIT Enterprise Forum CEE accelerator?

Under the CEE Accelerator Summit, InnovX Xelerator is happy to have found a leading acceleration program in Central and Eastern Europe that includes complementary elements to the structure of its own. The partnership between MIT EF CEE and InnovX Xelerator is meant to strengthen the added value received by startups entering both programs through the exchange of good practices materialized in the participation of Romanian Startups delegations to MIT EF CEE events and vice-versa. We also have in mind that by combining both markets: Poland #1 in CEE with 581 bn USD GDP in 2019 and Romania, #3 in CEE with 249 BN USD GDP in 2019, startups can access a larger pool of clients, ensuring that way the first step towards regional and international scalability. The results are also interesting: by acquiring new markets, startups have more chances to attract also pan-European VCs and international investors additionally to the national ones, as Poland, Slovenia and Romania have the fastest-growing markets in the region.

Following our first interactions in 2019, we can summarize the following directions of interaction:

  • Gateway to Poland and Romanian markets: startups from Poland and Romania had the chance to interact with representatives of big corporations from various industries in the aim of attracting the lasts as their angel-clients;
  • Creating a unique entry point for international investors interested in startups from Central and Eastern Europe: By having a pipeline that identifies startups from CEE, investors are more likely to access them through our partnership than by scouting each market separately.
  • Startups delegations in CEE events: startups from both programs had the chance to participate at events organized in Poland and Romania but also in Georgia, where they had interacted with their peers, building strong bi-lateral partnerships with the aim of:
    • Offering complimentary products services to their network of clients;
    • Creating international consortia to apply for EU RDI grants;
    • Expending their network through collaboration as a more efficient way of growth.
  • Startups delegation at international tech conferences: both acceleration programs have complimentary participation at international events, for example, MIT CEE Forum in Boston and InnovX in Silicon Valley, with the possibility for selected startups to attend them as a path to international growth.

What do you offer startups under the program?

The InnovX Xelerator is a non-equity program that offers to the selected startups a rigorous framework for acquiring the necessary competences for succeeding in a very competitive and dynamic global tech market. With the help of regional and international mentors, companies refine their product or service, by emphasizing their innovative advantages in an international context. While we do not directly finance the companies, we assist them to develop a functional business model materialized in business plans adapted to the different types of financing: European Grants, Bank Credits and Investments. Only after that stage, we offer them multiple opportunities of interacting with potential clients and finance professionals at specific match-making events conferences and pitch contests in Europe and the US. The results achieved by our 2019 alumni are encouraging for us as many of them won grants from the most competitive RDI program in Europe: Horizon 2020, attracted investments from VC’s and business angels and accessed the marketplaces of large corporations like UiPath, Microsoft and BCR part of Erste Group, Austria, just to name a few.

What do startups from your country gain thanks to your cooperation with the accelerator?

By cooperating with MIT CEE Enterprise Forum, InnovX alumni are participating in many of the events organized in Poland and worldwide. These are good opportunities to find potential partners in the MIT alumni and build strong partnerships for developing new complex innovative products and create international consortia for access to European grants and investments. But the main advantage is access to foreign markets, in our case Poland and Romania, and after that, Central and Eastern Europe. Also, we encourage startups from Romania and especially our alumni to register and participate to the MIT EF CEE acceleration program as we see it as a important step in their sustainable development.

Why was it worth establishing cooperation with MIT Enterprise Forum CEE?

MIT Enterprise Forum CEE is a leading accelerator in CEE that aims at developing high innovative startups scale in Europe and worldwide. While we share the same values, we found complementary activities that might complete the experiences that we can offer to our InnovX alumni. Also, at our last Demo Day in Bucharest, we welcomed MIT alumni to participate in our pitch contest and are happy to announce that two Polish startups won Full Access Tickets to one of the best events for entrepreneurs in the world: the Europe Conference organized by Startup Grind in partnership with Google for Startups in London UK. This interaction can be very well be described as a functional Coopetition (a neologism coined to describe cooperative competition, a portmanteau of cooperation and competition). Even if this is just the start, we are confident that by strengthening this bridge, we will help innovative startups scale faster and establishing CEE as an important hub for innovation and technology in the world.

What program values encourage startups from your country to apply for the MIT Enterprise Forum CEE program?

We found especially valuable the following:

  • Disciplined pathway to the development of business: by using a proven methodology in entrepreneurship, startups are more likely to have a correct and successful launch;
  • The international exposure: it is important for tech companies to have a global aim from their conception in order to ensure potential scalability;
  • The support from, one of the biggest Polish and international organizations and companies in business model refinement;
  • Access to the information, technical and technological resources of the program partners, as well as to key figures responsible for innovation.

Last but not the least, we are looking forward to welcoming MIT Enterprise Forum CEE Alumni to our next InnovX Open Day on the 27 of February 2020 where they will have the chance to see visionary speakers, talk with international investors, meet representatives of corporations from different industries and create partnerships with our innovative alumni. Also, by participating in our fire pitching contest, they might have the chance to win full access tickets to the next Europe – Asia Connect Conference organized by Startup Grind in partnership with Google for Startups in June 2020 in Tbilisi Georgia.