Visegrád Countries Making Their Mark on Innovation Ecosystem

Ecosystem

V4 startups are not only thriving domestically but are also making their mark internationally, entering the global innovation scene.

As reported by Vestbee, in the Central and Eastern European landscape, 255 investment rounds totaled EUR 560 million in Q3 2023. Furthermore, Dealroom reports that venture capital investment in CEE has doubled since 2020, breaking its record for venture capital investment and raising EUR 6.2 billion. In the third quarter of 2023, Poland, and Czechia accounted for 95 and 24 funding rounds. Poland leads the region, attracting the majority of investments, followed by the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.

This shows a steady investment volume within the region considering that public funds play a significant role in shaping the region’s entrepreneurial landscape. The top three sectors for funding and growth among V4 startups are fintech, e-commerce, and healthcare. There is also a growing interest in other sectors, such as logistics, travel, and deep technology.

As the startup ecosystem matures, it is now home to many promising startups that are already expanding to each other’s markets.

As mentioned in the report of Startup Hungary, the Hungarian startup ecosystem had some never-before-seen successes in 2022. Local startups raised over EUR 180 mln, a remarkable 60% increase compared to the previous year.

The capital, Budapest is home to many successful companies that have already made their exit. LogMeIn (acq. by Francisco Partners and Evergreen Coast Capital), Tresorit (acq. by Swiss Post), and Ustream (acq. by IBM) are a few of them. There are, however, many rising stars on the Hungarian startup scene. Munch for example, the company that has started its entrepreneurial journey in the Mentoring Program and the V4 Startup Force program of Design Terminal. Its core mission is to revolutionize the way one approaches food waste. Today, Munch has already expanded its markets to Slovakia, Czechia, and Romania. Besides that, they are collaborating with major supermarket chains (i.e. Spar and Penny) where customers can purchase food packages for a discounted price, thus further reducing food waste.

In Poland, DocPlanner has become a leading online healthcare platform operating in over 25 countries (including Poland and Czechia) and got a total funding of EUR 139 mln by September 2021. One of the successful exits of last year was when the Polish Telemedi, one of the biggest telemedical platforms in Central and Eastern Europe (that also operates in Czechia), exited when Mavie, an Austrian based healthcare provider acquired a majority stake of the company from Black Pearls VC.

Meanwhile, the Czech urban logistics company Dodo expanded to Slovakia and Poland in 2018 and secured €66 million in funding by May 2022. Dodo is now operating in all V4 countries as well as Bulgaria, Germany, and Austria.

All in all, with a growing talent pool, supportive government initiatives, and an increasing focus on innovation, the countries of the V4 region are well-positioned to witness even more exciting startups emerge and become global players.

V4 Startup Force Supporting Entrepreneurs in the Region 

The organizers of the initiative have been refining the program since 2018 to help business owners in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland to accelerate their growth as effectively as possible.

The V4 Startup Force program takes place twice a year and not only provides training and business networking opportunities for the many entrepreneurs who apply, but also encourages participants to learn the skills that are essential for international expansion.

"We are delighted to be part of the program for the sixth year running. It is always impressive to see so many enthusiastic entrepreneurs and diverse startup ideas. Founders are always willing to learn and look for ways to improve and that's exactly what we look for in them," highlighted Viktor Stefanak, head of partnerships at Campus.

The community is a key element of the programme, as entrepreneurs recognise that they face similar challenges, build trust and later on ask each other for advice, share experiences or, if necessary, build business relationships.

Applications for the V4 Startup Force Spring Program are open until March 18, after which the top five startups from each country will have the opportunity to participate in a three-day intensive training course held by business, sales, and legal experts.

The best-performing startups will continue their journey to become unicorns in the V4 Startup Force program.

More information: https://v4startupforce.designterminal.org/

The programme is supported by the International Visegrad Fund, led by Design Terminal, and implemented in consortium with Campus Network, Startup Hub Poland and DEX Innovation Centre.

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