How to get a 54,000 EUR startup grant, why should you launch your own ICO project, and what does the Slovenian startup ecosystem have to offer?

Day 14. March 2018 posted Anja Kodra
How innovative startup companies can obtain the startup grant P2 in the amount of 54,000€ and what its pre-selection process from Start:up Slovenia looks like was, already traditionally, presented at Forum 100% Start:up on 5 March 2018 in Technology Park Ljubljana. The event was designed in collaboration with Slovene Enterprise Fund and the Slovenian startup community in such a way that the visitors learned about all the key current public and private programmes for support, financing, mentoring and international networking of startup companies, including this year’s PODIM Conference and hot ICO projects. The event was followed by local roadshow events in Maribor, Nova Gorica, Celje, Velenje and Kranj. In your calendars, you can already mark the deadline for applying to the pre-selection for P2, namely 20 March 2018.


The European Union brings the market together and supports startups

We started the programme of Forum 100% Start:up by presenting different combinations and possibilities for public and private support available to startup companies. The event was also one of 300 events that took place within the European week of entrepreneurship and the Startup Europe Week initiative. Zoran Stančič, head of European Commission Representation in Slovenia, told us that considering the startups’ achievements and successful crowdfunding campaigns, Slovenia is one of the most productive startup environments in Europe, also helped by the European Commission. The EC supports companies mostly by bringing together the market and offering support, including the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus for Entrepreneurs.

The first roundtable was started by Zoran Stančič, head of European Commission Representation in Slovenia,
who took the opportunity of the European week of entrepreneurship to present the way that the
European Commission supports Slovenian entrepreneurship.

Slovenia is becoming a startup-friendly country

Jernej Tovšak, acting director of the Directorate for Internationalization, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, added that on the level of the Republic of Slovenia, the ministry is consistently and actively carrying out solutions accepted within the action plan Slovenia – the land of startups. The first concrete steps in this direction include accepting an act for encouraging investments with registers for high-tech companies and startups, which will ensure that companies get the support that they need due to the nature of startup companies, from an e-notary to the arrangement of optional rewards. Until the end of this year, measures for easier employment of highly qualified staff, and an act for employment of foreign citizens will follow. The event’s attendees were also introduced to the rich offer for startups from Technology Park Ljubljana and the SIO network, the ABC Accelerator, CEED Slovenia, KATAPULT and Business Angels of Slovenia Club.
Jernej Tovšak, acting director of the Directorate for Internationalization, Entrepreneurship and Technology
at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, summarized the key activities
they’re preparing in order to implement the action plan Slovenia – the land of startups.

Slovene Enterprise Fund and public startup support in 2018

Mag. Maja Tomanič Vidovič, director of Slovene Enterprise Fund, said that in the first half of 2018, the Slovene Enterprise Fund (SEF) is preparing the P2 tender, within which startups can obtain 54.000 EUR of startup resources. The forum attendees were informed about the conditions of the tender and who they can turn to for help. P2 is intended for young companies (founded between 1. 1. 2017 and 15. 3. 2018) developing high-tech solutions with potential for global growth. From the first tender in 2006, already 656 innovative companies with growth potential have been supported.
Mag. Maja Tomanič Vidovič, director of Slovene Enterprise Fund, talked
to forum attendees about what SEF is offering to Slovenian startups this year.


Will your idea be the Start:up of the Year? 

Within P2, companies receive startup financial resources as well as content support. A special part includes applying to the pre-selection process for the Start:up of the Year, which is how the company receives additional points for the tender. The P2 tender will be posted on 16. 3. 2018 on the Fund’s website and in the official journal. The application deadline will be 20.3. 2018. After being accepted to the programme, every entrepreneur selects their own mentor and joins the programme that allows them to obtain all the necessary knowledge they need to completely implement their product or idea and embark on the journey towards a market performance. 
The attendees, who filled the hall to the very last corner, gained all the information connected to
public and private forms of financing that are available in Slovenia.
Of course, we couldn’t ignore the ICO-mania that took over Slovenia.

Those that apply to the pre-selection for Start:up of the Year will take part in Demo Days on 5 and 6 April 2018, where they will make a personal pitch to the expert jury of mentors, business angels and others who will evaluate the potential of the business idea and give invaluable feedback regarding the state of the business project. It’s important that you thoroughly assess the stage of your startup, because that is how the financial resources and content support are adapted to your needs. Before applying through the central system, drop by the representatives of the innovative environment who will help you prepare your application form for the pre-selection process and P2.

PODIM Conference and collaboration between startups and corporations 

This year’s PODIM Conference will be strengthened to include altogether four days of activities, more than 100 regional investors, 150 corporate representatives and an unforgettable programme. The PODIM Challenge competition has been strengthened with 10 blue-chip partners and a strong international networking programme. That is why we dedicated the second part of the Forum’s programme to presenting Slovenian corporations that are looking for startups from different fields and offering various forms of support, from access to markets to concrete investments.
At the roundtable entitled “How established companies collaborate with startups” several companies presented their programmes and plans, including Mateja Lavrič, director, KOLEKTOR VENTURES, Damijan Slapar, executive director for products and generic solutions, Iskratel, Robert Sraka, director of new generation services, Zavarovalnica Sava, Suzana Leben, strategy and regulation director, Telekom Slovenije, Kristjan Perčič, IT business model development adviser, Pošta Slovenije, and Miha Valentinčič, director of innovative business models and digitalization, PETROL.
Kolektor is an industrial corporation with 35 manufacturing companies across the world and annual revenue that exceeds 700 million EUR. In the past year and a half, they’ve become better known in the startup world because of their Venture fund, with which they wished to combine their own domain knowledge with solutions for the industrial field and new tech brought by startups. They wish to invest into startups with knowledge and solutions from the fields of sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence and other industrially-applicable technologies. Their new project is the industrial accelerator Kolektor Labs, opening its doors in April. An independent unit will work in a startup way, and Kolektor will provide the resources, domain knowledge and access to industrial markets.
Iskratel, which celebrated its 70th birthday last year, has spent the past few years focusing on new segments such as smart and safe cities, transport and energy. For this purpose, they designed a 5-million-euro strong startup programme through which they invested into 4 startups so far. The startups that should address them are those that develop various solutions with machine components and are already present on the market or valued at up to 1 million EUR. They can obtain an investment worth between 50,000 and 250,000 EUR thanks to a sales network in 30 countries across the world, because Iskratel can also help them with business connections and domain knowledge aimed at further designing the product and obtaining investments.

Zavarovalnica Sava came to existence a year and a half ago with the merger of Zavarovalnica Maribor, Tilia and two Croatian insurance companies. The new name thus combines the knowledge and tradition of its predecessors, which they additionally strengthen as part of the reinsurance Sava Re and Sava pension groups. They’re interested in startups that develop technologies and solutions that would bring insurance services closer to everyday users. Last year, they organized an innovation weekend, and they’re already making arrangements for collaboration with the winning team. They’re looking for startups with solutions in IoT, telemetry and new ways of processing insurance that either already have suitable technology developed or that wish to collaborate on product development. Additionally, Sava Re as a group is interested in investing in startups, also outside the core field of activity, for example in energy.

Telekom Slovenije is best known for their fixed and mobile communications, systems integration and IT services in the cloud, but they also offer digital content and build networks and comprehensive services for telecommunications for individuals and companies. They wish to make their users’ everyday lives easier, which is why they’re looking for startups that develop services that can be included in this framework. At this moment, they are not actively investing but rather offering access to the market, help, equipment and support to startups that develop services in IoT, connected to smart networks, homes, cities, the field of security, comprehensive solutions and services for companies, digitalization of business operations, fifth generation of mobile networks, and data mining. 

Pošta Slovenije also formed a work group last year with the purpose of systematically working on choosing startups. The post company offers many services that we all know well, and they’re becoming increasingly strong in e-services. They’re interested in startups with solutions for logistics, IT services in the entire segment, e-archive services, but they’re also interested in using blockchain technology. They offer startups different ways of collaboration, mostly dependent on the type of product and team, from financing to contracting services.

PETROL is looking for startups from various fields, especially those solving concrete problems of their customers. Their vision for further development focuses on the field of energy, infrastructure, mobility and sustainable development. This includes various technologies and solutions, from smart cities, automatization of heating and energy use, renewable energy sources and similar. The keywords are new technologies and their ‘smart’ use. Models of collaboration with startups differ, from a capital investment to contract forms of collaboration.

Success stories: you can come far with ICO

Due to the success and impact of Slovenian ICO projects, this year’s Forum also touched on this topic. Team members from OriginTrail, InsurPal, Sportify and UNICO shared their concrete experience in financing with ICO. They all decided to use blockchain technology and ICO financing because it’s a solution that solves a certain problem in their field, from entering smart contracts to ensuring uniqueness and trackability. For example, in OriginTrail, they used blockchain to expand and upgrade their primary product, a system for improving the trackability of food origins, starting with dairy and poultry. The protocol OriginTrail came to existence as an open-source solution, meaning that developers will be able to use it freely and upgrade it for their needs. The final purpose is completely open and clear trackability of the food’s origins. 
OriginTrail, InsurPal, Sportify and UNICO introduced themselves at the roundtable of successful ICO projects. 
The guests agreed that the situation surrounding the development of the blockchain technology is similar to the development of the internet. Two decades ago, no one could imagine the ways in which this technology would change the world and our everyday lives, and now we can only guess which fields the blockchain technology will impact. OriginTrail, for example, collected 22.5 million USD through ICO to develop a decentralized supply protocol, InsurPal collected 18 million USD to develop blockchain technology for taking out insurance, Sportify 5 million USD for the development of a platform for crowdfunding young athletic hopefuls, and UNICO 190,000 USD to develop a platform for digital collection. The guests emphasized that before starting a campaign and introducing the blockchain technology into your product, you should think exactly which problem you’re solving with this and why this technology is suitable for you.

ICO-mania: not all that shines is Bitcoin

Because the field of cryptocurrency, tokens and blockchain technology is new and it’s difficult to keep up with everyday changes, Matjaž Slak from familiarized the forum attendees with legal specifications of financing with help of ICO, what this means for the company and how can help them with this. The current model with Utility, supported by the community, functions more for protocols and less so for applications intended for the final user. The field and (of course) the regulations are developing, meaning that new models and ways of designing an ICO project are constantly coming. If you decide for this way of financing, it’s important that you thoroughly study the field and explore why it is suitable for you. Matjaž is warmly advising against the “we’ll manage” principle, because the community is also more and more attentive to inconsistencies after a couple of failure and scams. Two heads are better than one, so tackle this complicated field armed with knowledge and a good team. 

Matjaž Slak,, familiarized the forum attendees with the basic principles of ICO
campaigns, why to launch them and what you should pay attention to.

With this year’s forum, we once again made an annual overview of the state of the ecosystem, making it clear that there are plenty of financing possibilities. Startups and enthusiasts with business ideas should do their homework, design a product that solves an existing problem, form a feasible business plan, and convince investors, in one way or another, that you are the next Slovenian unicorn.

The gallery with impressions from the event can be seen here

We are proud to be part of events organized within Startup Europe Week 2018


Project Assistant Start:up Slovenija
Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.