Fit4Start: Launch of a new state support programme for ICT start-ups

The Ministry of the Economy, in partnership with Luxinnovation and in collaboration with the Technoport incubator, has launched a new support programme to improve the starting conditions of young innovative enterprises in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector.

The programme, which is called “Fit4Start”, supports start-ups in their initial phase by offering them financing and coaching adapted to the needs of early-stage enterprises created less than 12 months ago and composed of at least two people. Fit4Start was officially launched at a press conference on 27 October 2015. The programme allows the start-ups concerned to develop functional prototypes of their products, validate them with clients and thus more easily attract investors. By participating in this four-month programme, start-ups can benefit from:

public financing of EUR50,000 (conditioned by a private contribution of EUR10,000);
free-of-charge facilities at the national Technoport incubator;
coaching and weekly follow up by experts specialised in the “Lean Start-Up” methodology;
a programme exit event that will allow them to pitch their project and possibly raise funds.

Admission to the Fit4Start programme is done through a competition organised twice per year. After an evaluation and selection by a jury, 5 companies are selected to participate in the programme.

The jury of this first edition, considered as a pilot project, was composed of Robert Glaesener, CEO of Trendiction, Nicolas Henckes, Secretary General of UEL and Marco Houwen, CEO of BHS Services. During the press conference, the first three enterprises participating in the programme presented their projects:

Houser (real estate comparison and analysis platform);
Bitbank (platform for secure stocking of digital data); and
Sport50 (management platform for sport associations).

These three start-ups are currently being advised by two specialised coaches, Carl Danneels and Michel Duchateau, who were selected among a dozen experts. Until the end of the programme in February 2016, the companies will have to keep track of their progress through a reporting and follow-up tool.

“The Fit4Start programme fulfils a strong need that regularly is brought up when we discuss with start-ups, i.e. to overcome the financing challenge at the very start of their existence. If this pilot edition is as successful as expected, the future objective will be to internationalise the programme in order to attract more talented people to Luxembourg,” explained Laurent Federspiel, Head of Department Technology & Business Development and Conseiller de direction at Luxinnovation.

Secretary of State of the Economy Francine Closener stated: “This new state aid instrument is adapted to the specific needs of start-ups in the ICT sector. Fit4Start thus contributes to complementing further the environment that favours the development of this sector, which plays the role of a transversal facilitator permeating almost all fields of economic activity.”