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EBRD launches regional start-up initiative

By Axel  Reiserer

  • EBRD and Startup Wise Guys start Fintech accelerator partnership
  • New companies from across EBRD regions invited to apply
  • Programme co-financed by TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund

Start-ups across the regions where the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invests will benefit from a new partnership between the Bank and Startup Wise Guys, a leading start-up accelerator with a presence across the Baltic states.

Companies from the EBRD regions active in Fintech can apply on a dedicated website for a bespoke accelerator programme, which combines the latest Fintech with the Bank’s goals to foster the development of competitive and sustainable economies. This programme is aimed at the broad spectrum of Fintech, including any Fintech solution that can support the post Covid-19 recovery.

Successful candidates will not only participate in a five-month intensive training programme, but also attract investment of up to €100,000, based on their maturity level, from Startup Wise Guys, which could provide the key to their breakthrough. An international pool of mentors will share experience and advice.

The start-up programme will take place in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, starting in October. The programme is co-financed by TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund. It is a full-time programme combining on-site and online modules.

While the programme will take place in Lithuania, there is no geographic restriction for applicants. Start-ups from any of the EBRD regions are strongly encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be placed in a so-called “EBRD Cohort”, focused on developing solutions in accordance with the Bank’s goals.

Startup Wise Guys is one of the leading early-stage accelerators, having launched 19 accelerator programmes since 2012, supported by founders from 45 countries and over 200 international mentors. It has been named among Europe’s top 10 accelerator programmes and as the Top VC fund in central and eastern Europe (CEE) in 2019.

For Startup Wise Guys, this will be the fourth accelerator programme with a Fintech focus and its first time in a partnership with the EBRD. For the EBRD, which has actively been supporting governments in central and eastern Europe, with the aim of improving the Fintech regulatory landscape – for instance by building regulatory sandboxes where new Fintech solutions can be tested in the existing regulatory environment, designing roadmaps and engaging in other policy activities – the partnership represents a further step towards developing the Fintech ecosystem in the Bank’s regions.

Cristobal Alonso, CEO of Startup Wise Guys, said: “The partnership with the EBRD and its TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund is a historic milestone for us. First off, having the EBRD as a partner gives a whole new level of positive impact. But we are even more excited to work with an organisation which, like us, has historically been so deeply involved in markets like the Baltics, Emerging Europe and the former Soviet Union, leaving a positive footprint on the economy and ecosystems. We are looking forward to learning from each other and continuing the positive impact where we can.”

“We are delighted to launch this new cooperation with Startup Wise Guys to grow the Fintech start-up scene in the EBRD regions with the help of the TaiwanBusiness - EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund. As a transition bank, the progress of our economies is what keeps us going and Fintech is an exciting new part of this. The partnership with Startup Wise Guys adds a new dimension to this work, with which we can promote innovative technologies in our regions, as well as attempt to address the overarching strategic objectives of the EBRD”, said Jacek Kubas, EBRD Associate Director, Local Currency and Capital Markets.

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