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The latest Idea Challenge from EIT Digital, this time with the theme of cybersecurity and privacy, in Trento, Italy saw eight startups pitch their ideas for the opportunity to join the organisation’s support network - with Estonia’s DigiFlak taking first place for its Flak Secuter product, along with €40,000.
DigiFlak’s Flak Secuter is an “all-in-one” USB-like piece of hardware that promises encrypted browsing and protection against online threats.
Second prize went to Berlin-based Mynigma, for its end to end encrypted email solution, netting €25,000, and The Netherlands’ Coblue Cybersecurity took third with a prize of €15,000 for Storro, an encrypted cloud sharing and collaboration.
All eight startups impressed the jury, said Jovan Golic, EIT Digital’s PST Action Line Leader, who was one of the jurors among other directors and managers from Siemens, F-Secure, and Telecom Italia. Each startup offered up new plays on topics like encryption and secure file sharing. Companies in these areas are really under the microscope with consumers now living in the age of hacks and data breaches.
“Of course I am happy, absolutely, but I can say that I am much more happy to take part in this event because it was very interesting for me,” DigiFlak co-founder and CEO Maxim Kostin told Tech.eu. “I met many guys from this area and I felt like at home. It’s a really strong competition, really strong startups, and very professional jury.”
The Tallinn-based startup will now join the support network of EIT Digital to expand its business across Europe and explore its options moving forward for developing its business and securing funds. The startup received a €40,000 prize for first place, so what’s next for DigiFlak in the immediate future?
“[The plan is] to develop new functions and also to develop new markets in geographical terms and also to find out new business partners and new technology partners,” Kostin said.
Jovan Golic, who was also presenting the prizes at the end of the day said there was little disagreement over who the best startups were. “It was very easy, almost unanimously, for the three winners,” he said. “We only had some discussion about the order.”
The EIT Digital Idea Challenge events give the organisation an opportunity to spot some of Europe’s most promising startups with events held across Europe in different cities to tackle a different theme each time.
Trento marked the third event of EIT Digital’s calendar of Idea Challenge events for 2015 running from October to December, stopping off in cities like London, Eindhoven, and Stockholm.
“[The day] has been really great. I think the winners are fantastic startups and feedback from the jury was very positive,” said Dominik Krabbe, project manager for the Idea Challenge. “They liked all of the eight presentations and offered to all of the startups to work with them, which I think is a great example of the quality of the startups that we have had here in the final and in the whole Idea Challenge to be honest.”
EIT Digital's capital prizes give young startups a shot in the arm for building their products and services while in their nascent stages. Looking beyond that, though, the organisation says it aims to foster growth and business development in startups, especially when it comes to securing financing.
The challenges for raising funds are a universal problem for many European startups, said Wolfgang Kniejski, EIT Digital’s PST Business Community Leader. While Trento’s event focused on areas like security and privacy, the funding challenge is not unique to these areas, he said.
“Companies that want to start up have the idea for the product. In most of the cases, their product is not ready for the market. They solve a technical problem but they really don’t actually know how to add the value and value generation of their potential customers,” he explained. “This is a specific problem that does not occur especially in privacy, security, and trust area or in cloud or in other areas. This is a general problem that we have to help.”
The remaining events and themes for EIT Digital for the rest of the year are as follows:
Urban Life & Mobility: London, November 23
Health & Wellbeing: Eindhoven, November 24-25
Smart Spaces: Helsinki, December 1
Internet of Things: Stockholm, December 3
Cyber Physical Systems: Paris, December 4