The first year of BlockStart has come to an end, and what a successful and busy year it has been.
The project ended 2019 with great momentum, with the launching of its Open Call #1. 20 DLT/blockchain startups were selected to participate at the Ideation Kick-off, from which 10 were selected and entered the Prototype stage of the Accelerator Programme. After 4 intensive months, 10 amazing teams successfully build a prototype assisted by their mentors.
The stakes were high as only 5 teams went to the Pilot phase of BlockStart and had the opportunity to collaborate and test in real life conditions their solution with an SME adopter – congratulations to Datarella, Kedeon, Rexs.io, 2bSmart and Infidia. A Demo Day is scheduled for the end of October, with the 5 teams pitching their solutions to international investors and market players.
We would like to give you a brief overview of the milestones that BlockStart has achieved in its first year:
Open Call #1
In December 2019, the first Open Call was launched. The news about this Acceleration Programme that gives DLT/blockchain startups up to €20,000 and SME adopters up to €4,500, spread to all EU Member States and H2020 Associated Countries. As a result, we managed to receive 90 applications to our first Open Call, from 3o countries (5 of which were from H2020 Associated Countries). We conducted 3 Webinars on Q&A to better inform interested startups on the Open Call and got to know many European Blockchain organizations and startups, establishing a good relationship with them. We also participated in a number of high-level international events where we continued to promote BlockStart.
First Open Call main figures
Let us take a closer look into the participants’ statistic and understand who applied to our programme. The United Kingdom was the country with the highest number of applications. The Netherlands, Lithuania and Italy followed the lead, accompanied closely by Serbia and Portugal. However, the fact that even the biggest contestants do not differentiate that much from the others in terms of total number of applications demonstrates that the BlockStart programme has been successful at bringing this opportunity to startups in a wider net of countries, including Eastern Europe and other H2020 Associated Countries.
Figure 1: BlockStart Open Call #1 – Number of applications per country (*H2020 Associated Countries)
But who are these startups? They seem to be very young companies, with most applicants having been born from 2016 onwards. This can explain the need to apply for an Acceleration Programme such as BlockStart, since 13% of them stated they were still in idea phase and 38% in the beginning of prototype phase of their DLT/blockchain solution development.
Figure 2: BlockStart Open Call #1 – Founding Year of applicant companies
In terms of the market they want to address with their DLT/blockchain solution, applicant startups are clearly more focused on fintech and ICT markets, with 65% of them opting for a B2B business model.
Figure 3: BlockStart Open Call #1 – Market to be addressed by DLT/blockchain solution
Ideation Kick-off event
The first Ideation Kick-off event was held on 26th of March 2020. From the 20 DLT/blockchain startups selected to participate, 10 were selected to enter the Prototype stage of the Accelerator Programme.
10 SME adopters were also invited to participate, to provide their inputs to the startups presentation of the solution they wanted to develop in the upcoming months, and also to engage and connect with the startups.
This online event joined 73 participants, had 30 presentations, and promoted 42 matchmaking meetings between DLT/blockchain startups and end-user SMEs – and all in one day!
On April 2020 the second phase of the programme (the Prototype stage) began. Only the top 10 DLT/blockchain startups were included in this stage. Teams with the continuous support of their mentors from Bright Pixel, CIVITTA and F6S developed their DLT/blockchain prototypes, devoting special attention to the upgrading of their business proposal and fostering future collaborations with SME adopters. In addition, they had the opportunity to belong to a wide network of blockchain stakeholders and be provided with suggestions for conferences, events, and other initiatives of their interest, through their participation in BlockStart’s Slack Community (blockstartconnect.slack.com).
We closed the first year of BlockStart with the delivery of a final report by each of the 10 DLT/blockchain startups: we can say with confidence and enthusiasm that all teams are on the right track to successfully pilot their DLT/blockchain solution and engage with SMEs willing to test and adopt their solutions. The amount of work invested compensated and as before, in the beginning of school year each startup will receive the financial support that corresponds to their journey on Prototype stage.
The first part of BlockStart Acceleration Programme for Open Call #1 applicants has ended quite successfully, with the selected startups constantly providing positive feedback and working hard the achieve their goals with the continued support of their mentors.
After announcing the 5 successful startups, the Pilot stage as just began and startups are expected to test their solution in collaboration with a chosen SME adopter. So, collaboration will be crucial for our teams in the last 2 months of the Acceleration Programme!
But the new year of BlockStart program also brings new challenges as Open Call #2 started on July 28th, with more 20 DLT/blockchain startups to be selected to participate in the 2nd Ideation Kick-off, which is expected to take place online on November 26th. The campaign for Open Call #2 has already started and 2 Webinars on Q&A are scheduled to take place on the 10th and 23rd of September – save your spot here for the 1st one, and here for the 2nd one.
We hope that many great proposals will be submitted for Open Call #2 and we are looking forward to meeting the 20 selected startups! Good luck to all applicants!
Application criteria, more information and how to apply to Open Call #2 here.
 28 EU or H2020 Associated Countries, plus 2 applications from 3 non-EU countries.