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Zurich-based accelerator programme Kickstart Accelerator has opened applications for the third edition of its programme, which this year will take on a new programme structure.
The Swiss accelerator focuses on later-stage tech startups with solutions in deep technologies — science and engineering driven tech like artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain — as well as in areas like edtech, fintech and smart cities.
The programme also aims to initiate successful partnerships and pilot projects between selected startups and Kickstart’s partner companies and institutions.
Kickstart co-lead Katka Letzing said in a statement today that the accelerator’s first two programmes had resulted in 30 proof-of-concepts and collaborations.
In a subsequent email to Ventureburn today, Kickstart Accelerator communication lead Simone Bächler said international applicants have until 27 May to submit their applications.
New programme structure
“Now in July, for the first time, a jury will decide who makes it into the programme,” Bächler said in a subsequent phone call commenting on the changes in this year’s programme structure.
This year’s four-month programme will kick off with a two-day Selection Bootcamp to be held on 9 and 10 July, which will see the top 60 startups pitch in front of a jury of experts in Zurich.
Kickstart Accelerator programme participants will each receive $10 500 in stipends, access to collaboration workshops as well as support from mentors and experts
She said of the 60 finalists who will be shortlisted and invited to pitch in Zurich, only 30 will be selected to join the programme.
“It’s no longer a 11-week programme,” she pointed out, adding that Kickstart’s acceleration programme will not be run in a three-month block as it has traditionally operated in past editions, but instead has been split up into three separate sprints.
The first, a Collaboration Planning Sprint, will run on 3 and 4 September in Zurich. This block will see selected startups and partner organisations meet to explore ways to collaborate on pilot projects.
This will be followed by a Virtual Sprint later that same month, which will be conducted remotely. It will see programme participants and partners undertake the necessary preparations to carry out joint projects during the Collaboration Sprint.
The Collaboration Sprint which is set to run between 1 October and 9 November will see the programme participants implement their collaborative projects with Kickstart’s partners.
During this stage participants will each receive a stipend of CHF10 000 ($10 500) as well as support from mentors and experts. In addition, programme participants will get the opportunity to participate in collaboration workshops.
Bächler said the changes would see startups have more time to prepare before they start working on their respective collaborations and would ensure that the selected participants will have time to make solutions for their proof-of-concepts that actually work.
She also said that although no spots would specifically be dedicated to African startups, those startups from the continent that meet the programme’s criteria are welcome to apply.
Featured image: Programme participants from Kickstart Accelerator’s 2017 cohort (Supplied)