18 months well into the Programme, ACE has many stories to tell. 2015 has brought a new open call for candidates, a second edition of the ACE Summit and roughly 70 more enterprises supported by our international mentors. ACE’s success has also been highly endorsed: 92% of supported companies recommend ACE to another fellow start-up and half of them rated our impact on internationalisation as high or excellent.
Second ACE Summit opening in Milan with Jim Ward from DublinBIC
ACE is Selecting, Again!
The second ACE call for candidates was opened in December 2014 with the first cut off at 25 January 2015 through the F6S platform. This first round gathered 100+ applications from start-ups and SMEs across Europe, 70 of which are advancing through their tailor-made ACE Programme. This second call for companies focused mainly (but not only) in providing support to enterprises in countries outside of the ACE consortium and where cross border investment opportunities could be identified.
In March 2015, newly selected companies were assigned an experienced mentor in their nearest ACE partner country ahead of the ACE Summit 2.0 in Milan, where they had the chance to meet for their first mentorship sessions. This ‘local’ mentor had the task to analyse their internationalisation strengths and weaknesses and developed an individual internationalisation action plan to be put in place with the help of the ACE support network.
ACE Summit 2.0
On 18 March 2015, newly selected ACE companies, mentors, investors and other potential partners converged at the second ACE Summit in Milan, in the framework of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. Attended by over 100 participants, the Summit was the first occasion for the new ACE companies, mentors and investors to meet each other and discuss how to work together to take their businesses global.
At the Summit, the companies had the opportunity to participate in investor readiness training with GoBeyond, and 30 companies pitched directly to a panel of cross border investors. Some 40 mentorship and coaching meetings were pre-organised and several companies had the opportunity to exhibit in the networking area of the Congress.
Customised Support Plans and Cross border investment
Following the meetings in Milan, the mentors worked closely with the companies to elaborate their Internationalisation Action Plans. The measures implemented will be customised for each participating company to address their specific internationalisation goals and challenges, as identified by the participants with the support of their local mentors.
In the last 6 months ACE as always concentrated large efforts in providing its companies with more international pitching opportunities, including e-pitching organised with GoBeyond and the sister project European Investor Gate.
Final stretch – ACE Award
In the months coming, ACE approaches the end of its official funding period. With over 100 companies supported to date and many still in the pipeline, ACE is striving to provide long standing and sustainable support to its companies. The ACE Award, recognising excellence in early-stage internationalisation of our ICT SMEs will soon open for nominations. The prize for most impressive international growth is to be awarded at the 2015 Annual EBN Congress, to take place on 28-30 October in Brussels.
Stay tuned to hear more about our companies’ progress. Read some of our start-up stories here and stay up to date on our partners’ and companies’ activities through our Twitter feed.