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All About the New EIC-Funded Venture Building Studio for CEE Deep Tech Startups

The Wolves Summit Team


  • Ventures Thrive is a new pan-European venture building studio that aims to accelerate deep tech startups with equity-free funding and a growth programme. 


  • The program will select 32 deep tech startups from Central and Eastern Europe and widening countries (such as Malta, Portugal, and Georgia) and invest up to €1.5M in total.


The deep tech vertical is still emerging in Europe. Among the key challenges that deep tech founders face are access to funding and commercialization barriers due to the cultural, economic, and legal fragmentation of the European market compared to the US or China. Europe lags behind in terms of research-backed startups and unicorns compared to these other markets. 

The Central and Eastern Europe deep tech and climate tech startup ecosystem, in particular, is in its early days.

“The region has amazing drive, amazing ITs, and amazing tech expertise coming from scientific backgrounds. However, deep tech European founders face multiple barriers to scaling and commercialisation,” Michael Chaffe, CEO of Wolves Summit, tells The Recursive.

He continues by summarizing three key barriers for deep tech scalability in CEE that Ventures Thrive is looking to address:  

•   Europe has a lack of lead investors backing deep tech startups. Investors prefer to invest in low-capex B2B SaaS companies with a short path to liquidity. Deep tech startups require significantly more capital to get started and even more to scale.

•   Although we have amazing IT talent, very often founders tend to obsess about technology and lose sight of commercialisation.

•   In Western markets, corporations play a crucial role in taking deep tech solutions to market using their sheer number of resources and expertise to validate early-stage businesses. This is something that we really need to change – the way they interact with scaleups in CEE – because they are so crucial.

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Through its 8-month programme, Ventures Thrive aims to address this funding shortage, but also growth challenges for deep tech startups in Central and Eastern Europe. They also want to raise an additional €7.5M in equity funding, €10M in public funding and over €1M in procurement opportunities. 

Companies in the programme are eligible for up to €100,000 equity free funding (in cash and services), subject to completing the programme milestones. They will also be matched with investors and strategic corporate partners to accelerate their commercialization and decrease the chance of failure.

In addition, participants will receive hands-on support and masterclasses in relevant areas, such as go-to-market, legal, and applying for R&D grants.

The programme will culminate with a Demo Day event where startups can present their achievements in front of 1000+ investors, mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, company managers, and the press.

Who can apply?

In addition to the regional focus, Ventures Thrive is looking for companies with deep tech solutions such as blockchain/DLT, AI/ML, and nanotech, and that are solving challenges for the energy, food and agriculture, waste, mobility, and finance sectors, among others. Applicants need to have reached the growth-stage (TRL Level 6 and beyond). Both privately and publicly funded ventures can apply, including portfolio companies in the EIC accelerators or other deep tech programs.

Applications will open in January 2023. You can submit your interest here. And if you are an investor looking to participate in the program, reach out to [email protected] to find out more about how you can get involved.

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Antoanela is a Sustainability Communications Specialist and Deputy Editor at The Recursive media. From these roles, she is helping organizations communicate their latest sustainability goals, strategies, and technologies. She writes about climate tech, ESG, impact investment, sustainability regulation, and related topics.