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Boosting the growth potential of CEE start-ups on a pan-Europen level by creating new opportunities, synergies and opening the GATE of Startup Europe to the Balkans

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MY-GATEWAY (Boosting the growth potential of CEE start-ups on a pan-Europen level by creating new opportunities, synergies and opening the GATE of Startup Europe to the Balkans)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Developed ecosystems can have a cascading effect stimulating businesses, nurture the growth of new sectors, innovations and advancing economic development. In order to achieve this, countries must have the necessary preconditions and supporting mechanisms.Central Eastern Europe (CEE) has great potential to become competitive in the European entrepreneurial landscape. Due to the slower rate of development, the region is constantly challenged to meet the needs of high-tech startups and innovative SMEs and enable them to establish better connections, gain access to funding opportunities, skilled workforce and ensure their success.

MY-GATEWAY project set the following objectives:

- Enhancing the understanding of startups’ needs in the chosen region.
- Creating better connection for startups with European entrepreneurship stakeholders.
- Facilitating access to finance and provide start-ups with better understanding of funding opportunities available, including procurement instruments.
- Providing start-ups with better access to skilled employees.
- Improving the knowledge and skills of startups necessary for business growth and scaling up.
- Connecting selected ecosystems and exploit synergies on a pan-European level.
- Generating awareness and interest in MY-GATEWAY activities and ecosystems.
- Contributing to the joint efforts of decreasing regulatory and administrative barriers for startups.

Over the past two years, MY-GATEWAY has achieved the proposed objectives and beyond. The Consortium has worked to strengthen the connection between Romani, Slovenia and Czech Republic, while making them more visible at EU level. Over 300 entrepreneurs were supported in participating at European tech events and more than 140 startups were trained on public and private funding. Nevertheless, MY-GATEWAY built strategic collaboration with Western Balkan ecosystems, bringing them closer to the more developed ones. With the creation of Startup Europe Networks and Untold Stories Budapest, and with MY-GATEWAY tools for startups and ecosystem builders, partners are committed to make project results live on and continue contributing to the growth of the entire CEE and Western Balkan entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Based on the first period efforts in determining the status, trends and potential of the Slovenian, Romanian and Czech ecosystems, the Consortium implemented a set of targeted actions over the past year.

MY-GATEWAY has made substantial impact in the CEE region by:

-Increasing CEE startups’ exposure to developed European ecosystems, via participation in prominent European startup events, and endorsement of Startup Europe initiatives.
-Increasing regional ecosystem interconnectivity by launching Startup Europe CEE and Startup Europe Western Balkans Networks followed by the hand-over of their Policy Recommendations.
-Paving the way to address challenges CEE and Western Balkan entrepreneurs face at national, regional, and European levels and to unleash the regions’ potential, via a set of country-tailored Policy Recommendations, based on the Startup Europe Networks input and MY-GATEWAY partners’ expertise.
-Equipping CEE universities with tools to establish connections between entrepreneurial students and startups in search of skilled workforce, via MY-GATEWAY Talent Acquisition Model.
-Encouraging a closer cooperation between R&D and startups via MY-GATEWAY Technology Transfer Model, which will assist in transitioning technologies from research stage to industrial development.
-Equipping CEE startups with knowledge and know-how for business growth and scaling up via a comprehensive selection of online courses for entrepreneurial skills.
-Assisting CEE startups to create novel connections with local and international funding suppliers (VCs, business angels, accelerators and other key ecosystem players) via Access2finance workshops organized in the 3 CEE countries.
-Equipping CEE ecosystems with knowledge on available national and European support tools and funding opportunities, via tailored face-to-face training courses on public and private funding.
-Facilitating regional cooperation by providing CEE ecosystems with the tools and knowledge to assess their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for learning and collaboration.
-Setting up the scene for the CEE startups to become better informed about the available procurement opportunities national and EU level.
-Fostering cross-border results and ideas by reinforcing collaboration with sister projects.

MY-GATEWAY partners have continuously worked on determining the relevant results exploitation routes and are committed to maintain similar activities in CEE ecosystems, and further transfer results to the Western Balkans. Based on generated learnings, partners will improve these results to better fit the needs of their ecosystems.
With a view of paving the GATEWAY to the Balkans, transferring knowledge to the Western Balkans, and bridging the gap between European ecosystems, MY-GATEWAY Balkan Committee has actively contributed to achieve this goal. Ecosystem-tailored Knowledge Transfer Workshops were organized in Serbia, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing the right tools to address local challenges and continue developing their ecosystems. Establishing the Startup Europe Western Balkans Network, and creating a set of Policy Recommendations for the six founding members is the way forward to a stronger regional cooperation and inclusion in the European entrepreneurial landscape.

Beyond the state of the art, MY-GATEWAY organized Untold Stories Budapest 2019, as the project final event. The aim is to offer startup founders the chance to understand the invisible reality behind entrepreneurship and discover the stories successful founders never tell on record, which are key to unleashing their business potential. The event’s unique format relies on the founders’ need for practical talks, honest professional and personal insights and an intimate atmosphere to connect with their peers and learn from each other. The knowledge and expertise passed on by prominent speakers and the considerable amount of potential coming from CEE and Western Balkans is a quintessential combination allowing the region to aspire towards becoming the next Silicon Valley. Untold Stories Budapest will ensure the sustainability of MY-GATEWAY goals and results by being organized recurrently after the end of the project – with the upcoming edition in October 2020.

Throughout its lifetime, MY-GATEWAY has actively contributed to positively impact the CEE and Western Balkan regions from a socio-economic point of view. The project has identified missing links, gaps in collaboration, allowing the activities to be tailored to the actual needs of the ecosystems involved. On one hand, the project has allowed CEE startups to meet key local, regional and international players (startup support organizations, ecosystem builders, investors, policy makers), and to make valuable business connections that will have a positive impact on their growth and competitiveness. On the other hand, stakeholders could gain better insight into the regions’ investment potential. Nevertheless, ensuring better integration of emerging ecosystems in a pan-European perspective will contribute in the long run to the political, economic and societal stability of the region.
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