How to become a European scaleup according to EIT Digital Challenge’s Dominik Krabbe

How to become a European scaleup according to EIT Digital Challenge’s Dominik Krabbe

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Scale-ups should be on the look out, as EIT Digital organizes the EIT Digital Challenge 2017 – a pan-European innovation contest which aims to reach out, identify, and support the best digital technology scaleups in Europe. The contest will select five companies which will win an international growth package and a cash prize of €50,000. Dominik Krabbe, the EIT Digital Challenge Lead, emphasizes the importance of having an international strategy from the early beginning of your startup.

Pitfalls in the European scale-up ecosystem

According to Dominik Krabbe, there are a lot of programmes which focus on helping startups in the early stage. Developing a scalable business model, making the first pilot, and getting the first investments are common issues in these programmes. Yet, there is a clear lack of programmes helping international scale-ups. Krabbe elaborated further: “Such programmes usually happen at a local level but for scale-ups this is irrelevant since they already have big teams. They want to access bigger markets, and they do not need to relocate their operation”.

EIT Digital Accelerator

This is what the EIT Digital Accelerator provides in Europe since a few years. The EIT Digital Accelerator supports European digital ventures to scale up their business in Europe and beyond. The goal is to accelerate the growth of promising digital technology startups and scaleups by helping them secure target customers (Access to Market) and raise capital (Access to Finance). Now the EIT Digital Accelerator organises a challenge: the opportunity for scale-ups to meet investors, have expert coaching, matchmaking, a direct market approach and an understanding of the international market.

“It’s all about speed”

Krabbe also pinpointed common issues with acceleration: “When it comes to scale-ups, it is all about speed. They need to scale fast before someone else takes over. Speed issues are also the result of the fragmented market, as it takes longer to enter a particular market.” On top of that, there is the money pitfall: “Scale-ups require a lot of money and external investments. When it comes to round A, or round B, or a bigger investment round, it is very difficult for the companies.”


Krabbe provides scale-ups with a solution: “With our EIT Digital Accelerator we are helping these scale-ups to gain bigger footprint, gain bigger investments, access a huge network which in turn can lead to future clients, be coached by brilliant experts, speed up their internalization, and find the capital they need. The EIT Digital Challenge is the entry ticket into this program, and will also get the companies a lot of visibility, which is very important because people need to know about you.”

International strategy from the very beginning

He also gave two essential tips for scale-ups that are focused on fast growth in Europe and worldwide. “Scale-ups need to have an international strategy from the very beginning. They also need to develop a product which is not aimed at the local niche. Secondly, they need to address a problem that is relevant – something that people need. A customer-oriented approach is also vital to building a successful scale-up”. Concluding, Krabbe is certain that if a good technology is at hand and it is backed up by an international ambition, the scale-up has a much higher chance to scale internationally.

EIT Digital Challenge

With the EIT Digital Challenge, the team of EIT Digital hopes to support the next European success stories. The aim of the contest is to reach out to the best digital technology startups in Europe which want to grow their business internationally. There are five categories: Digital Industry, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing, Digital Infrastructure, and Digital Finance. Following an evaluation of the companies, EIT Digital will invite five companies per category to pitch their business.

Growth package

In the end, five winning companies will receive an international growth package worth €100,000 in total. This growth package consists of 12 months of dedicated support services including working with business developers and financing specialists, pitching to potential investors and clients, networking, individual lead creation support, corporate matchmaking, and personal introductions to international customers and investors. On top of that, they will also receive a cash prize of €50,000.

Krabbe invites scale-ups to participate, as it is EIT Digital’s ultimate goal to find the next European success story. He also stated the following: “We want to be the driving source of Europe’s digital transformation.”

The EIT Digital Challenge 2017 is now open for applications. You can apply here until 8 October 2017.

Read the previous articles in our series about EIT Digital Challenge:

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