Overview on accelerators and startups programs (January to July 2020)

In this overview article we have shortlisted 30 news related to startup programs and accelerators for the period of January to July of 2020. Although strongly impacted by the social distancing crisis, most accelerators and programs in our startup ecosystem, managed to move their activities online.

In last month's overview article we focused on venture capital and fundraising news, so in this one we shortlisted the news related to startup programs and accelerators for the period of January to July of 2020.

We found more than 20 programs conducted during this period, involving probably more than 300 startups in their activities. Although strongly impacted by the social distancing crisis, most accelerators, hubs and programs in our startup ecosystem, managed to move their activities online.

Most of the programs and activities are organised from Bucharest, but as location didn't matter anymore, the on-line gave the chance to startups to participate from wherever they are, in the same conditions as the local ones.


1. During the first months of the health crisis we saw a huge effort coming from various ecosystem actors and startups, willing to support through making their products or resources available for businesses and consumers for free or at a discount price. Start-up.ro and Techcelerator monitored the offerings and clustered them for everyone to see.


2. In order to help the hospitality industry recover from the current crisis, Tech’n Trade, Metro Systems and Metro Cash & Carry launched the #rebootHoReCa program. The program will help selected startups with go-to-market strategies, feedback on the product and connections with potential clients (link with details).

3. Rubik Hub organised the second edition of Rubik Garage pre-acceleration program, supported by Orange Fab. The purpose of the Rubik Garage program is to support entrepreneurs with early-stage startups to develop their idea into a sustainable business.


4. 45 entrepreneurs signed up to develop business ideas in the agri-food sector in the Empowering Women in Agrifood program. The program developed by EIT Food and implemented by Impact Hub Bucharest offers the 10 participants personalized mentoring, networking sessions and the possibility to receive funding of up to €10K (link).


5. Part of the KPMG Startup Grow Pad, KPMG Romania together with Spherik organised a series of webinars on topics like protection of IP portfolio management, contract management, human resources, remote work, having as speakers various active startup founders and experts in KPMG Romania.

6. Techhub Bucharest in partnership with Google for Startups launched the call for application for the second batch of StepFWD, the 8-week pre-accelerator for tech startups with gender-balanced teams. Startup can apply until August 30th while the program will take place during October and November 2020.


7. Commons Accel kicked-off the new program with the second batch of startups selected (focused on three verticals: education, sustainable cities and responsible business). During the acceleration period they will provide mentoring, free consultancy, workshops and access to early-stage investors (link).

8. Innovation Labs hackathons and follow-on programs took place in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Timisoara and Sibiu. Innovation Labs is the oldest and most extended a pre-acceleration program in Romania, focused on students, this year reached the 8th edition (link).


9. In the 3rd edition of Future Makers, organised by Social Innovation Solutions together with Coca-Cola Romania selected 50 startup ideas which they will incubate over a period of 4 months, while the best selected projects in the end of the programs will win prizes of €20K.


10. While shifting all activities online during the spring, Techcelerator ran its fourth cohort of startups, with 9 startups selected into the program out of 250 applications.

11. Culturepreneurs has launched the call for the third program, welcoming 80 professionals in the cultural and creative sectors, that are open to technology and entrepreneurship and are interested in developing sustainable projectsThe program is part of the component focusing on the work in the cultural and creative sectors within “Cluj Future of Work”, the first project in Eastern Europe funded by Urban Innovative Actions. 

12. A new program, HoReCa Business Accelerator was launched focused on startups with a business model or ideas in food and beverage serving concepts, products dedicated to the hospitality sector and applicable digital products. The accelerator is a non-equity type and is open to both already created companies and to future talented entrepreneurs who have a business idea with growth potential.(link)

13. Founder Institute Bucharest, idea-level incubation program, started a new edition for its program, with 44 entrepreneurs, which participated in various workshops and mentoring sessions over a period of 6 months (link with details).


14. How to Web shifted successfully the demonight events in the on-line and in the end of June the team organised a new conference focused on remote work; the new event called “RemoteCon” has gathered many international speakers from well known startups and is sponsored by  KPMG in Romania and Google for Startups.

15. The second edition of the InnoEnergy PRIMER pre-acceleration program took place in February. In this program are welcomed startups with innovative ideas in the field of energy, mobility, smart city and related fields, and they benefited from business guidance sessions to subsequently apply in the acceleration programs of EIT InnoEnergy (link with details).

16. Chisinau-based Upcelerator program, organised by Dreamups, is running its first on-line edition with 20 very early-stage startups from Moldova and Romania. The startup teams are involved in weekly webinars, mentoring sessions and support offered and networking opportunities.

17. BCR-InnovX, the technology business acceleration program, announced the 24 companies that have joined the Grinders Group's 2020 incubation program (13-24 July). The businesses with a turnover or financing of up to €100K, which develop innovative solutions and products through technology are the ones that got accepted in the program. After the incubation weeks, the best startups will be selected to enter the acceleration phase (link).

18. Out of over 90 solutions entered in the third edition of the Changeneers competition, a program developed by Impact Hub Bucharest and Samsung Romania, from which 15 teams were selected to participate in the final of the competition which took place on June 25. The selection criteria focused on the impact that the proposed solution can have, the marketing strategy and customer attraction, the operational and financial feasibility, the team's ability to improve and develop the solution, as well as the innovative element brought by technology (link with details)

19. The second edition of the Innovators for Children program, developed by Impact Hub Bucharest, in partnership with the Botnar Foundation and Impact Hub Basel, was launched in March 2020, still in progress with 11 startups that are accelerated and prepared through mentoring sessions, training and review boards to receive funding totalling 100,000 euro.


20. FoodSHIFT Accelerator Lab was launched with the aim to foster a more localised food economy and revive the gastronomic heritage of the region. It focuses on supporting local food product innovation, innovation in procurement, marketing and supply chain management.

21. Ten Romanian startups were chosen for the ScaleOut Accelerator program. The accelerator is dedicated to companies that already do business abroad and want to expand their product through internationalization activities. Through a tailor-made curriculum, adapted to the export expansion objectives of each individual entrepreneur, the accelerator addressed startups that already have a viable business model on the Romanian market (link with details). 

22. Part of the startups involved in the BCR InnovX program participated in Silicon Valley’s Startup Grind Conference, in February 2020, in one of the biggest startups-focused events in the world. The representatives were from startups: Allevo, Setrio Soft, iFactor, DocProcess and Credo.

23. During the EUvsVirus Hackathon, Romania had representative teams in each of the 17 categories. In this hackathon a total of 117 solutions to support recovery from the coronavirus pandemic were selected from 2160 solutions that were registered (link with details).

24. 45 ideas were selected to participate in Startup Weekend Covid Romania and the winners were MediNav (3rd - medical navigation assistant), SusTrack (2nd place - AI predictor for infectious diseases spread) and VirMed (1st place - tool to organize on-line medical events).

25. Food & Agri Tech Challenge program organised by Impact Hub Bucharest and European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) and supporting innovative solutions in agrifood, selected and helped 8 startup teams during the program duration, from February-July 2020.



26. To facilitate the online transition of physical stores affected by the coronavirus pandemic, 17 top companies with experience in online commerce services have laid the foundations of the #VreauOnline program that offers free training and specialized digital transformation. Merchants received support and package discounts for services such as: creating a digital store, promoting online, automated order processing, packaging and delivery of parcels, card payment, billing and all related eCommerce services (link with details).

27. A new startup funding scheme, Innotech Student, was designed by Ministry of European Funds during the past months. This project will facilitate €20M in European funds to support entrepreneurship among students and the formation of education incubators for them. The eligible organizations can submit the projects in the electronic application MySMIS until August 31st. (link with details).

28. Universities supported internal educational programs for students with startup ideas. We can name here: UBB Hacks for Good, UMF Cluj's ASAIH, SAS UTCN, SAS UMFCD organised in-house through the entrepreneurial-focus student NGOs in the universities or with the help of external partners.


29. GirlEsc team, consisting of 5 students from Bucharest, won the Regional Award given to Europe in the international technology competition Technovation Girls. EnGuard, the application developed by the young Romanian women is dedicated to all people who are in an emergency or dangerous situation, through which they can contact, based on signals, the police or a trusted person. (link with details).

30. In March, during the Startup City conference and Innovation Camp event in Cluj, a local informal alliance, between various organisations related to tech and startups, was announced with the purpose of setting a common vision and a set of actions aiming to support the the growth of the local startup ecosystem (link with details).

31. On July 23rd, Tech 4 Oradea was launched, an initiative that aims to bring together developers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, students, and other professionals or companies that are ready to build tech solutions that will solve diverse problems in Oradea’s local community (link with details).

32. The Local Startup Founders Club program, created by Cluj Startups, was moved into on-line, debuting with the series of webinars focused on startup founders needs, which will included mentoring sessions and connections with angel investors also through Transylvania Angels Network.

33. Wello, the platform that teaches parents and children on good nutrition was selected in the Google for Startups accelerator for growing companies. Wello was chosen, along with 5 other European startups (link with details).

34. Romania qualified for the second consecutive year in the international final of the Global Legal Hackathon contest. Our country will be represented by the Legal Surfers team. The solution proposed by the team is Cookie Surf, a DIY privacy solution for the management of cookies on websites (link with details).


For transparency, disclaimer: we're involved in 12 of them as mentors, trainers or in the management team.

If we missed anything (which is very probable), let us know at hello@activize.tech

This being said, we're looking forward for the autumn activities! Enjoy the summer! 😊