Slovakia—the possible innovation capital in CEE

Slovakia—the possible innovation capital in CEE

After reading about the flourishing startup ecosystem of Hungary and Poland, you now have the chance to dig deep into another fascinating scene since we continue our series of articles about the Visegrad region. It’s your turn Slovakia! Amaze us.

This should not come as a surprise since Slovaks are traditionally a creative and entrepreneurial nation. The first entrepreneurs started doing their businesses right after the collapse of communism 32 years ago. But what would you expect from a nation that invented the helicopter, artificial human hand and flying cars?

In 2021 a strong community of young entrepreneurs embodies the Slovak startup ecosystem, who have the opportunity to work and develop with a dozen of incubators, accelerators and a lot of serious investors. Not only in the capital, Bratislava, but also in other regional centers typically around tech universities.

Slovakia has a lot of advantages when it comes to a blooming ecosystem. One of them is its size: actors of the startup scene know each other and can easily get in touch. Bratislava has a unique position in Europe, you can reach three major cities from here: Budapest, Brno and Vienna is just a stone’s throw away from the capital. Understandably these ecosystems, therefore, can effortlessly connect. (Talking about the need for programs like the V4 Startup Force, right?) Also, did you know that Slovakia is in the top 10 of the most hardworking countries according to the OECD?

If you possess a computer, you probably have heard about ESET. The software company that develops antivirus software is undoubtedly the most famous and the most valuable Slovak company, founded in 1992. Sygic, the popular offline navigation app and Pixel Federation, a Facebook game among the top 20. According to the startup ecosystem, the biggest challenge is to take Slovak startups to a global level. They have to improve regarding marketing and sales – by the way, this is a central offering in the V4 Startup Force Program. The Slovak startup scene is still waiting for its first unicorn.

A twist in this year’s V4 SUF: the Bootcamp

Like the previous ones, this article is also connected to the V4 Startup Force Program of Design Terminal. Central Europe’s leading innovation agency has organized two semesters of the renowned startup scholarship program each year since 2018. (Except for the year 2020, when Covid-19 put the scheme down to one joint semester.) With the help of the International Visegrad Fund and local partners in the three other countries, the program helps entrepreneurs build their businesses and create a valuable network throughout this region.

This year, in order to ensure that the enterprise development program is available to the greatest number of startups, Design Terminal added another twist to the tried and tested format. Even during the selection process, they furnished 20 startups with valuable business know-how and a network of contacts. Unconventionally 20 shortlisted startups went through a further grading: the V4 SUF Bootcamp. Here, the goal was not only to pick out the four finest ventures who then went on to the entire program but also that the other 16 should extract maximum profit from Bootcamp.

Slovak teams who undertook the V4 Startup Force

The first Slovak team in 2018 was Freya: a startup that helped women and men in family planning by recommending steps that they could take before having children. Apparently, we can not trace the company back right now, but the solution seemed unique. In 2019 Virtual Everything was the team of the Spring semester: the team offers companies solutions using virtual and extended reality, thereby supporting sales, marketing, product development and employee extension training activities. Autumn semester’s hotshot was Minty: the platform that connects graphic artists with potential clients. Their solution simplifies the process of negotiation and administration, in addition to which users can purchase illustrations and visuals on the platform.

In 2020 Sentiner and 21st cf.factory got in the V4 SUF. The previous one is a detection system built into cameras to recognize when someone is not wearing a mask or has a high body temperature. (You can easily figure out that this was the era when we got familiar with the words Covid and pandemia…) The latter uses artificial intelligence to anticipate market changes and provide customized solutions for their clients.

This year AgeVolt made it to the Spring semester’s final four. The startup has found a solution for the renewal of the e-vehicle charging system. Their mission is to help the expansion of e-mobility by making it more convenient and accessible. Autumn semester’s Airlogy Labs analyses indoor air and surfaces to reveal potential microbiological threats. Although you might think that this solution also comes from the appearance of Covid, this is not the case. But let Matej, founder of the startup, tell you all about this in the following video.

If you are interested in the previous pieces, you can find the one about Hungary here and the one on Poland here. What better ways do you know to spend these coming holidays?

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