Reaching New Heights with Vertical Accelerator Programs

Day 30. January 2023 posted Anemari Pediček

Startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs operating in different sectors, industries or niche markets face very different challenges when it comes to designing, creating efficient and scalable business models, developing production, sales and marketing of products or services. This is where the Slovene Enterprise Fund sees the challenge, agreeing that generic accelerators are no longer enough for start-ups that want to maximize their potential and improve their business model and products. The Fund is working to enable entrepreneurs to grow, develop, network with established companies and receive group courses through specialized vertical accelerators. Find out below why vertical accelerators are important, which ones are currently running and what the future holds.


HardwareSTART: The key to success for Slovenian hardware startups

Hardware Start

300 hours of mentoring | 9 experts for the development of hardware companies  | access to knowledge, experience and supply chains

The aim of the program is to provide hardware startups with the right help at the stage of product testing, prototyping, prototype refinement or mass production launch. The program is the result of a consortium of partners Katapult, DEWESoft and Zavod mladi podjetnik (The Young Entrepreneur Institute). Participants in the program have access to 24 machines to help them develop their products.


Did you know that the hardwarestart program was voted as the most useful of all the programs of the Slovene enterprise fund?


The program consists of:

  • International conference HardwareSTART,
  • Vertical acceleration program,
  • Individual consulting for enterprises,
  • Informal community meetings.


Access to top mentors

HardwareSTART also offers one-on-one expert mentoring, where hardware experts help startups with prototyping, product completion, market entry, marketing and sales strategy and other key areas of building a business in the industry.


Meet 9 top experts.

-        Jure Knez, DEWESoft    

-        Andrej Orožen, DEWESoft

-        Mihael Gornik, DEWESoft

-        Vid Selič, DEWESoft

-        Jaka Ogorevc, DEWESoft    

-        Andrej Pangeršič, DEWESoft

-        Miloš Dimitrijević, DEWESoft

-        Dejan Črnila, DEWESoft

-        Jernej Ženko, Katapult



Gridtech, a startup that has developed ElderOn, a scalable emergency system for the elderly, also took part in the program.

Want to know more about HardwareSTART? Click here. 


Promotional hydrogen accelerator: discover the potential of hydrogen as a clean energy source

Did you know that startups are one of the most important potential drivers of new solutions in hydrogen technologies? Therefore, in line with the European Commission's guidelines for the development of hydrogen technologies and its own successful model of "vertical accelerators", the Fund will first identify various initiatives and projects and young high-tech SMEs that are focused on hydrogen or have the potential to commercialize their business ideas.


At the same time, the Fund also aims to carry out various highly specialized educational and promotional activities in order to promote entrepreneurship focused on hydrogen and the Fund's offer to startups, scaleups and other stakeholders in this vertical. The promotional vertical accelerator is implemented by the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with Technology Park Ljubljana.


The program consists of:

  • Market analysis and preparation of an expert report on the state of entrepreneurship in hydrogen technologies;
  • Educational and promotional events in the field of hydrogen technologies;
  • International promotional hydrogen conference.

Web 3.0: A new era of innovation

Up to 30 hours of individual mentoring | 3 strands  | access to knowledge, experience and web 3.0 technologies

There are also many opportunities for startups in Web 3.0, the third generation of the internet, where websites and applications will be able to process information intelligently in a human-like way using technologies such as machine learning, big data, edge computing, VR/AR, blockchain and metaverse.


The program is made possible by the Slovene Enterprise Fund and implemented by the high-tech company Arctur together with Blockchain Alliance Europe z.o.o. Tecos, Razvojni center orodjarstva Slovenije, Yotta Advanced Computing d.o.o. and Dr. Urška Starc Peceny.


The program provides companies with knowledge on how to optimize workflow and save time by using Web3 technologies, introduce them to the use of Web3 technologies in a simple and easy-to-understand way, offers them expert mentoring in the field of implementation of Web3 technologies in business models, as well as gives them opportunities to network and make new connections.


The program consists of:

Six workshops on Web3 technologies for Fund’s recipients and all early growth stage companies;

Three meetings for Fund portfolio companies and an informal networking session after the event;

  • One-to-one mentoring for innovative SMEs.


web3 delavnica

Web3 workshops


Achieving new breakthroughs with vertical accelerators

Vertical accelerators offer a range of benefits, enabling startups to solve specific challenges they face in developing, manufacturing, selling or marketing their innovative products by working with the most successful companies in the industry and specialized support institutions and by sharing knowledge and experience with other startups.


In addition to vertical accelerators, a number of Startup Plus programs are available to recipients of financial incentives

The Slovene Enterprise Fund also organizes a number of other innovative entrepreneurship programs for portfolio companies, such as the Sales Accelerator, Startup Clinic, SK GROWTH, Podim Conference, HardwareSTART and many others. These content programs effectively complement the P2, SK75 and SI-SK financial products, which provide between EUR 54,000 and EUR 600,000 in startup incentives to Slovenian startups.


other programs





The program is co-financed from the Slovene Enterprise Fund and the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund. This is implemented on the basis of the Content Support for Funds Recipients (SMEs) Programme in the 2018-2023 period, under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of the European Cohesion Policy 2014-2020.


Slovene Enterprise Fund Ministry of Economic Development and Technology European Regional Development Fund Fund of Funds Startup Plus
Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.