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Inside Slovakia’s Ecosystem: Mapping the Country’s Innovation Potential and Thriving Startups

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With a population of nearly 5.5 million, Slovakia represents a relatively smaller but strategically well-positioned and thriving country in the rising CEE region. The Slovak startup ecosystem is quickly becoming a hotbed for startups and innovation, with a growing startup scene attracting entrepreneurs and investors worldwide.

The Slovak innovation hub is still developing, ranking 58th on the Global Startup Ecosystem Index in 2022 and 15th in Eastern Europe. However, the country’s location, strong technology infrastructure, stable economy, and skilled workforce make it an ideal place for Slovak tech startups.

Moreover, Slovakia has been recently recognized among the top 5 countries for launching a startup by Business Name Generator. The contributing factors are favorable tax rates, GDP growth, wages, procedure costs, and quality of life.

 

The growth of Slovak startup ecosystem

Following the collapse of communism in the late 80s and the split of Czechoslovakia in the early 90s, entrepreneurship in Slovakia has been experiencing a boost over the past two decades. Nevertheless, the more startup-oriented initiatives started around 2015.

Sharing a border with the rising ecosystem in the Czech Republic and Austria and with the two large markets of Poland and Ukraine, the Slovak innovation hub has an opportunity to tap into several markets with high potential.

The vibrant community of young Slovak entrepreneurs, major technical universities, and co-working places in Bratislava create a base for the growing ecosystem. Outside of Bratislava, other innovation hubs are primarily located in the growing cities of Košice and Trnava.

Several accelerators and incubators in Slovakia support local startups and help them grow in the competitive market. Other initiatives like SAPIE (Slovak Alliance for Innovation Economy) focus on promoting new businesses with legislation tailored for high-growth companies, tax incentives, educational reforms, and startup visas.

While Slovakia is still waiting for its first unicorn, it is home to many successful tech companies, including cybersecurity ESET, which provides security software in over 200 countries for more than 100M users. A gaming company Pixel Federation or an offline navigation software Sygic represent other successful exits.

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Venture capital in Slovakia

The VC landscape in Slovakia is becoming more available, providing startups with the funding to expand and scale their businesses. However, scaling on a global level still represents a challenge for Slovak startups, according to a report by StartupBlink. Backed by the CEE Startups report, a relatively minor portion of the CEE VC funding (€117M) went to Slovak startups in 2022.

Notable Slovak funds include Zero Gravity Capital, CB Investment ManagementVision Ventures, Slovak-founded ZAKA VC fund in the Czech Republic, and a Luxembourg-based fund focusing on Slovak startups, Neulogy Ventures.

 

10 Slovak startups to follow

Photoneo

Founders: Jan Zizka, Tomas Kovacovsky, Michal Maly

Based: Erlanger, US, office in Slovakia

About: Startup Photoneo empowers warehouses with automation, providing robotic vision sensors and intelligence software, autonomously picking, consolidating, and dispatching orders. Founded in 2013, the company has over 300 employees and accounts for over 5000 technology installations across the US, Asia, and Europe.

Highlights: In January 2023, Photoneo raised $19M in a Series B round led by Taiwania Capital Management Corporation, securing $40M in Series B investments.

 

Tachyum

Founders: Radoslav Danilak, Rodney Mullendore, Ken Wagner, Igor Shevlyakov

Based: California, US, offices in Bratislava, Slovakia

About: Slovak-co-founded Tachyum startup was established in 2016. The company develops a single processor delivering industry performance for data center, AI, and HPC workloads, enabling data centers a low-cost, energy-sufficient universal computing.

Highlights: Tachyum closed a Series B round of an undisclosed amount in 2021. The startup received $42M in a previous Series A round and a grant.

 

GA Drilling

Founders: Igor Kocis, Dusan KocisTomas Kristofic

Based: Trnava, Slovakia

About: The high-tech company GA Drilling develops and commercializes the technology platform PLASMABIT for a carbon-free independent local source of geothermal energy. GA Drilling enables significant time and cost savings compared to existing drilling technologies.

Highlights: In 2022, the company closed a corporate round of $8M from Nabors and a venture round of $12M led by Extantia Capital. The total funding since the company’s establishment in 2008 amounts to over $35M.

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Fuergy

Founders: Branislav Safarik, Radoslav Stompf, Rastislav Kuba, Vladimir Miskovsky, Tomas Demcak, Branislav Kopun

Based: Bratislava, Slovakia

About: Featured in our V4 AI startup map, Fuergy provides solutions for energy optimization. The startup develops its AI-powered software platform and modular battery system, from smart energy storage systems and enhanced utilization of green energy sources to dispatch systems or automated energy trading.

Highlights: The Fuergy team secured a €16M in their first venture round led by Pro Partners Holding earlier in 2023.

 

Powerful Medical

Founders: Martin Herman, Robert Herman, Simon Rovder, Viktor Jurasek

Based: Bratislava, Slovakia

About: Powerful Medical provides AI-powered solutions supporting medical professionals with diagnosis and personalized treatment of cardiovascular disease accurately. The solution is used mostly in Western European countries, Slovakia, and Israel.

Highlights: In 2022, Powerful Medical secured a €6.2M seed round led by Venture to Future Fund.

 

CloudTalk

Founders: Martin Malych, Viktor Vanek

Based: Bratislava, Slovakia

About: Founded in 2018, ClaudTalk is a call center software helping businesses expand internationally to 160 countries. The startup offers native integrations with popular CRMs, helpdesks, and business tools to assist sales and customer service teams.

Highlights: CloudTalk raised a Series A funding of €6M in 2021, backed by henQ as the lead investor.

 

Hilbi

Founders: Patrik Kmec, Roman Kucera

Based: Bratislava, Slovakia

About: An AI-enhanced telemedicine startup Hilbi securely and systematically connects physicians and patients worldwide. The solution uses technology for communication, personal data management, or health monitoring. Currently, the service is available to 1500 doctors in Slovakia.

Highlights: Hilbi received its first funding in 2020, raising €5M in a seed round.

 

MATSUKO

Founders: Maria Vircikova, Matus Kirchmayer

Based: Košice, Slovakia

About: Startup MATSUKO brings realistic holographic communication to companies’ meetings using AR, VR, and XR. Established in 2016, the company empowers organizations’ collaboration and brings people closer using a single camera and a pair of mixed-reality glasses.

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Highlights: In 2019, MATSUKO raised a €2.5M seed round funding.

 

Sensoneo

Founders: Andrea Basilova, Martin Basila

Based: Bratislava, Slovakia

About: Sensoneo provides cities and businesses with enterprise-grade smart waste management solutions. With smart sensors and real-time monitoring software, clients are supported by data-driven decision-making and optimization of waste collection routes, frequencies, and vehicle load. The solution leads to waste collection costs and carbon emission reductions.

Highlights: Sensoneo raised a venture round of €2M in 2021 and currently serves customers in over 60 countries.

 

Glycanostics

Founders: Jan Tkac, Tomas Bertok

Based: Bratislava, Slovakia

About: Biotechnology startup Glycanostics provides a test for an early-stage diagnosis of prostate cancer, developing a validated and affordable, non-invasive liquid biopsy test with an accuracy of up to 90%. The startup was founded in 2017.

Highlights: After a pre-seed round of an undisclosed amount in 2020, the startup received a €2M grant in 2021 from the European Innovation Council.

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