The colourful opportunities of startups in the Visegrad region
Recently, the press and politicians all over the world applauded the fact that the Visegrad Four collaboration is now celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The Visegrad Group was formed on 15th February 1991, the historical meeting was in the picturesque city of Visegrad in Hungary. Ever since this political agreement created an imaginary historical arch linking the idea of this meeting to the idea of a similar one, that took place there in 1335 with the attendance of Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland, the collaboration focused on mutual cooperation and friendship between these four CEE countries, even after the disintegration of Czechoslovakia in 1993. The four countries also work together towards their common interest of all-European integration.
Thirty years after they joined the EU, it is clear now that the four “Visegrad” states of central Europe can be proud of their economic achievements, as 5 years ago the journalist of The Economist put it in a piece. Some even state – well, non-other than the authors of the Visegrad Startup Report – that the startup ecosystem of the V4 region is expanding rapidly. „What makes the Visegrad region stand out is the number of STEM graduates.”
A lot of startup founders of the V4 region agree on this: Eastern European markets offer a lot of potential for growth. Let’s take a closer look at the thriving and colorful ecosystem of the four countries, where there are a total of 31 incubators, 62 accelerators, 163 VCs, 165 business angels, and approximately 1097 startups (although this number is always flexible due to the nature of startups).
Design Terminal is one of Central Europe’s leading innovation agencies, that builds ‘Innovation Champions’ through corporate partnerships and talent acceleration. They give corporate leaders and startup founders the knowledge and access they need to catalyze innovations across any organization. Their incubation programs are up and running in twelve countries, and since 2014 the organization has worked with more than 1000 startups and several leading corporations.
Hiventures is a founding partner of the Hungarian companies. Their venture capital investment programmes provide new funding opportunities for early-stage, innovative and traditional SMEs and large enterprises.
Last year Startup Hungary was founded to operate as an independent, entrepreneur-led organization and supercharge the startup community, and to support the birth and development of more high-growth potential tech companies in Hungary. They will provide an annual startup report from now on about the country’s ecosystem.
With more than 30 years of professional background, K&H Bank provides Hungarian startups with the assistance that can make the most of them at the most critical moment. In addition to the free office infrastructure and inspiring environment, the Start it @ K & H incubator offers continuous training, dedicated industry mentors, and an international network of people tailored to the needs of startups, thinking with them.
Besides the capital city there are other opportunities: the main aim of Start it Up Győr is to create an inspiring environment for future generations to build businesses with the right support locally, in the city of Győr. They organize community-building events, provide programs, training, incubation, and go-to-market support for local entrepreneurs, and connect the startup ecosystem in Győr with international hubs.
Startup Yard is a platform for connecting Central European startups, mentors, investors, and corporates. Since 2011, they have dedicated themselves to helping startup founders move fast. Lighthouse Ventures is an early-stage and acceleration venture capital-focused on technology projects with a global vision. Their mission is to nurture inspiring ideas throughout their critical early stage, financially as well as professionally, with an international team of partners bringing together expertise in entrepreneurship, startup mentoring, mergers, and acquisitions, media and marketing, technology and operations, as well as a strong business network in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Credo Ventures is a venture capital company focused on early-stage investments in Central and Eastern Europe. They partner with outstanding technology founders to realize their global ambitions.
Depo Ventures is a unique investment platform that manages seed investment funds, a network of business angels, and provides M&A advisory services. DEPO team identifies quality startups and simplifies the investment process in order to mitigate the investment risk for both the startups and the investors.
Space3ac provides an acceleration program for startups, young technology companies, programmers, and scientific teams and help corporations design, create & manage innovation programs. They have experience in connecting startups and corporations with creating maximum value from their cooperation. Their traditional focus is downstream space technologies.
COBIN Angels is the largest professional club of business angels in Poland. Since 2015, COBIN has supported private investors in making investments in young, fast-growing technology companies from Poland and the Central European region. COBIN brings together business owners, board members, and top managers.
MCI Capital is one of Poland’s leading venture capital and private equity companies. MCI does early-stage venture, later-stage venture, and private equity investments in CEE Region, Germany, and Austria, in former Soviet Republics countries, and in Turkey.
Each year Uplift – the leading Slovak startup accelerator – supports dozens of the most innovative and promising startups from the CEE region. They work with founders on growing their business and increasing the value of their company. They offer a 4-month acceleration program, investment for selected startups, workshops, business coaching, office space.
Neulogy Ventures was founded to finance and develop talented entrepreneurs and help their companies succeed in the global market. They know both sides of the early-stage investment world and offer their portfolio companies unique expertise based on their past experience as entrepreneurs, investors, and transaction managers.
Progress Bar is a coworking, community space in Bratislava with meeting rooms, private call rooms, package handling, space for collaborative or focused work. Campus Cowork offers the same, also in Bratislava. Their spaces offer multiple options: be it a flexible hotdesk, your very own fix desk or an office.
Startup Safari is not a boring ordinary conference, they turn the city into a gigantic two-days startup jamboree. Every April – when our lives are not hit by a global pandemic – people can have a peek into the offices of the most exciting startups and tech companies in Budapest. Breakfasts, office tours, workshops, hackathons, meetups, trainings, and professional lectures will give a taste of the startup ecosystem.
Startup and World Cup Summit Startup World Cup is a global conference and competition that brings together the top startups, VCs, entrepreneurs and world-class tech CEOs. Combining two premier events of the CEE startup scene (the Startup World Cup and the Startup Summit), the Startup World Cup & Summit is a unique event where visitors from across the entire startup spectrum will be able to come together to connect, find inspiration, and be rewarded.
Wolves Summit is connecting angel investors, VC funds, tech talent, and corporations with the most promising businesses in the CEE region to help ambitious founders scale and foster international economic growth.
TechSummit conference is an open platform, which is focusing on the presentation of actual trends and information from the innovation area of IT with emphasis to the dynamics of large and small business environments, improvement of the public environment, and international know-how exchange.
OpenSlava is a conference for a broader IT community in Slovakia and abroad and one of the largest annual international conferences organized by Accenture in Central Europe.
Prezi is an interactive cloud-based presentation platform that helps users connect with their audience. It was founded in 2008 and now headquartered in San Francisco, California. Prezi's latest offering is Prezi Video with which users can record movies that previously required green-box technology or design rework.
Bitrise – launched in 2014 – is a platform for mobile app development, enabling tens of thousands of developers to automate integration, testing, and deployment. They were the first Hungarian team to enter Y-Combinator, one of the world's most renowned startup incubator programs.
Ustream was founded to provide a live interactive broadcast platform that enables to view and broadcast content. Its clientele and partners included Cisco, Sony, Discovery Communications, Georgetown University, and Samsung. IBM acquired Ustream in 2016. According to press reports, they gave about $130 million for the Hungarian-developed startup.
Balabit’s integrated PAM solution protects organizations in real-time: it helps organizations prevent, detect, and respond to cyberattacks involving privileged accounts, including both insider threats and external attacks using hijacked credentials. Founded in 2000, they were working for companies like Orange, AirFrance, Facebook, or NASA. The biggest startup success story of 2018 was that Balabit was bought by one of the company’s business partners, One Identity.
Twisto, a BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) company based in Prague has just secured €16m in new funding, aimed at expanding its services across eastern Europe; an area the company says shows significant promise for BNPL growth. Twisto is currently active in both Poland and the Czech Republic and plans to expand to Romania. Founded in 2013, 1.6m customers have used the app so far which allows them to defer payments on goods purchased online. (source)
Spaceti is the technology for digitising buildings based on the principles of indoor location. Their mission is to radically redefine how people digitally interact with buildings, increase the well-being, and collaboration of employees, while simultaneously providing effective building management too. They have received a second investment of around €3.5 million from Reflex Capital and Fast Forward, as well as from new investors Lighthouse Ventures and Kamil Vacek. (source)
Founded in 2015, IP Fabric develops network infrastructure visibility and analytics solution to help enterprise network and security teams with network assurance and automation across multi-domain heterogeneous environments. They have secured €3.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Senovo and Presto Ventures.
Brainly is a Polish education tech company based in Kraków, with headquarters in NYC. It provides a peer-to-peer learning platform for students, parents, and teachers to ask and answer homework questions. The platform has elements of gamification in the form of motivational points and ranks. As of November 2020, Brainly reported having 350 million monthly users making it the world's most popular education app. In January 2018, they announced to had acquired the video education start-up, Bask, to bring video technology to the Brainly platform.
Infermedica – founded in 2012 – makes it easier to pre-diagnose, triage, and direct patients to appropriate medical services. They have announced recently a partnership with Microsoft. Infermedica will specifically be working with the Microsoft Healthcare Service Bot, which empowers healthcare organizations to build and deploy AI-powered virtual healthcare assistants at scale.
InoBat is an R&D and battery production company with the long-term objective of serving the European market with new energy solutions. Bratislava-based R&D and battery production company has secured €10 million in a round led by IPM Group, an asset manager focused on infrastructure tech, CEZ Group, Wildcat Discovery Technologies, and other investors. The Slovakian startup also received €5 million in government funding last year. (source)
The Hilbi communication platform is tailored to the needs of physicians and their patients. Hilbi is a tailor-made communication platform for doctors’ and its patients’ needs. The platform is the foundation of systematic changes in the contemporary healthcare management system. They have received €5 Million in Investments recently.
In 2014 the Hungarian Government delegated tasks related to public funding of research and development and innovation primarily to the National Office for Research, Development and Innovation, thus ensuring the supervision of research, development, and innovation based on unified legal practice.
CzechInvest plays a key role in the area of supporting business and investments in its comprehensive form. The agency’s unique combination of regional, central and international operations ensures the integrity of services and the ability to connect global trends with regional conditions in the Czech Republic. Established in 1992, CzechInvest is a state contributory organisation subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.
The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) is involved in the implementation of national and international programmes financed from the EU structural funds, state budget, and multiannual programmes of the European Commission. As a key authority responsible for creating a business-friendly environment in Poland, PARP contributes to the creation and effective implementation of the state policy related to enterprise, innovation, and staff adaptability. Pursuant to the principle “Think Small First”, in all its activities the Agency puts a particular emphasis on the needs of the SME sector.