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Intel brings Ignite startup scheme to Europe

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Intel is launching its early-stage startup acceleration program, Ignite, to Europe, based in Munich. This follows three successful cohorts of startups in Tel Aviv, Israel, with local startups.

Ten startups from across Europe will be selected to a 12-week mentoring program, with applications in March.

“This is a European play – there are advantages of starting strong locally but this is our European play,” said Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, General Manager of Intel Ignite (above centre). “When we looked at expanding globally we wanted to see deep technology that can help drive change in Intel with strong engineering and that’s Munich,” he said. He also points to the many European headquarters of technology companies in the city as potential customers as key.

The scheme is particularly looking at companies working in next generation computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous machines, cyber security, IoT, programmable logic or other deep technology field.

“This is different from Intel capital which is one of the best corporate funds around Series A and B, this is about ecosystem development,” said Weisfeld, who came up with the Israeli scheme after having run the startup accelerators for Microsoft. “The purpose of Ignite is to connect Intel to the disruptors – we don’t invest directly,” he said. “We are looking for the best deep tech startups to do three things: to make Intel more relevant and engaged on areas that matter, help drive the culture change in Intel to a growth mindset so we are taking top business and tech people from Intel and getting them to work alongside startups, and open innovation.”

“Every one is doing AI today and we are highly interested in anything that is data centric and the AI part of it, how do you do significant learning and inference and how do you accelerate Industry 4.0. I say deeptech fairly loosely – when we say AI we do not mean e-commerce, we look at scenarios where you have significant amounts of data to analyse to then use for prediction – it could be fintech but when there is significant amounts of data, enterprise services

“Munich is so exciting, especially for deeptech,” said Stephan Heller, Munich Managing Director of Intel Ignite. “You have universities with great engineering programmes and graduates that have gone on to become unicorn founders, as well as the corporate headquarters, so for startups in the fields of enterprise tech, deeptech and B2B, Munich is better than a lot of cities that are more e-commerce heavy, for example.”

“Now there are a lot of founders that are more technologically aware,” he said. “It’s an exciting opportunity that the funding is shifting to deeptech away from e-commerce. For example there is three times the factory density [in Germay] with Middlestand companies and they need to innovate.”

But the programme is not limited to startups in Munich or even to Germany.  

“We are looking very wide for teams as we want to see the best startups there,” said Weisfeld. “Our hybrid model has been accelerated as a result of Covid-19 so we are not in the physical world, we are open to any European or UK startup, including quantum. I’m sure there’s a few in Germany and Europe that we would love to talk to, these are really interesting for us.”

Applications are open now until March 16th and the selection day for the first European cohort is on 30th March. The scheme aims to have two cohorts a year, and is also looking to set up the scheme in Austin, Texas.

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