EBRD launches regional accelerator initiative to support development of CEE fintech ecosystem

By Vanora Bennett

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  • EBRD and Startup Wise Guys to host regional fintech accelerator partnership
  • “Fintech 5” programme includes on-site training, advisory support in Bucharest
  • Programme supported by TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is continuing its partnership with Startup Wise Guys (SWG), one of the leading start-up accelerators in Europe, with the launch of a new programme named “Fintech 5”. It will be organised as a five-month intensive accelerator in Bucharest, Romania, in which start-ups work with the SWG team, EBRD staff and fintech experts.

Fintech startups from across Central and Eastern Europe are invited to apply for this international accelerator programme, the fifth organised by SWG and the second collaboration with the EBRD.

Fintech 5 will feature on-site training and advice on company building and sales in Bucharest, home to a multitude of active start-ups, venture capital investors and incubator and accelerator programmes. This will allow start-ups from across the Baltics and Central and Eastern Europe to benefit from the city’s critical mass of existing start-ups and investors.

The EBRD also recently launched its Star Venture programme in Romania, leveraging a network of mentors and advisors to channel bespoke advisory services and industry best practices to start-ups.

The Fintech 5 programme is supported by TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund.

It is a full-time programme, with selected start-ups participating in a mix of online and in-person modules, product sprints and one-to-one mentoring sessions. Applications close on 2 June, and the programme will start on 27 June and run until November 2022. Up to 10 selected start-ups will then receive up to €90,000 investment with a potential follow-on investment.

The EBRD actively supports governments in central and eastern Europe to improve the fintech regulatory landscape, whether by building regulatory sandboxes where new fintech solutions can be tested in the existing regulatory environment, or designing roadmaps and engaging in other policy activities. This partnership represents another way to support the regional fintech ecosystem.

This partnership between the EBRD and Startup Wise Guys follows the success of the Fintech 4 programme in 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Several start-ups which completed that programme also achieved sizeable additional external funding following investment by SWG.

“We are delighted to continue our cooperation with SWG on developing the fintech ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe. The support of the TaiwanBusiness - EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund has been key for enabling the deployment of new technologies, driving innovation and growth in EBRD countries of operation. Supporting the digital transition is a key part of EBRD’s long-term strategy. Therefore, we are pleased to be scaling up our activities in Bucharest through our partnerships and EBRD’s Star Venture Programme, launched in Romania last month,” said Alex Pivovarsky, Director of EBRD Capital and Financial Markets Development Team.

“Having invested in close to 50 fintech startups, we have witnessed amazing talent from the region and the impact these startups can make to the digital economy. This is backed by the high appetite of investors - already, we have already seen two exits from fintech startups in our portfolio and a number of series A and B rounds. We chose Romania for our fifth fintech programme because it is a country we believe is poised for hyper growth in the startup space in the coming decade. We are doing this in a new partnership with EBRD after a successful collaboration in the last fintech programme in Vilnius, Lithuania,” commented Cristobal Alonso, Global CEO at Startup Wise Guys.

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