Launched in May, the EstLat-Accelerate project aims to carry out three pre-acceleration programs with an ICT focus to support entrepreneurship in Estonia and Latvia. The project is coordinated by BIA and funded by the Interreg Estonia-Latvia program.
Program: Interreg Estonia-Latvia
Project: EstLat-Accelerate (Pre-accelerator program for boosting Estonian-Latvian startups)
Duration: 1 May 2017 – 28 February 2019
Total ERDF funding: 454,920 €
The main aim of EstLat-Accelerate is to prepare and carry out three pre-acceleration programs that are jointly organized in Tartu and Riga. Each round of pre-acceleration takes about four months and has a specific ICT focus that varies from program to program. Participants apply for the program on an individual basis, but will form (cross-border) teams with complementary skills during the first phase of the program, followed by developing their initial idea concepts into technically and commercially feasible business ideas and graduating from the program. As such, the project’s objectives are to attract ambitious (first-time) entrepreneurs to the program and to support them in team-building and idea validation so to prepare high-quality startup teams who are ready for pre-seed financing.
Each round of the pre-acceleration program has four distinct phases – involvement, hackathons, mentoring and graduation. In the involvement phase, efforts are focused on engaging potential entrepreneurs from both Estonia and Latvia in the program and selecting participants for the next phase. The hackathon phase, starting with ideation workshops for idea improvement, is designed to encourage cross-border team creation and to narrow down the circle of participants to teams with the most promising ideas. The teams who pass the hackathon phase are admitted to the mentoring program, which is a series of individual meetings and joint events with highly experienced entrepreneurs and business coaches. After getting feedback to their business ideas and advancing their business models with the help of mentors, the startup teams graduate from the program by pitching their work to potential investors at graduation days. All in all, the pre-acceleration program will lead to the creation of about ten new companies by the end of the project.
The EstLat-Accelerate project will be realized by three Estonian and two Latvian partners:
1. Baltic Innovation Agency – project management, overall coordination, monitoring and analysis
2. TechHub Riga – coordinating the pre-acceleration programs and communication
3. University of Tartu – carrying out the mentoring programs in Estonia
4. Garage48 – organizing ideation workshops and hackathons in Estonia and Latvia
5. Latvian Startup Association – carrying out the mentoring programs in Latvia