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The EIT Digital Challenge returns this year with applications now open for Europe’s fast-growing deep tech scaleups that are poised for big things.

It invites companies to apply to take part in the Challenge where 20 scaleups with high potential will be chosen from five different deep tech thematic areas: Digital Tech, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing and Digital Finance. The five most promising companies will win an EIT Digital Accelerator international growth package worth €50,000 that will support the scaleups in their international expansion plans. Furthermore, the EIT Digital Challenge winner will be awarded a cash prize of €100,000.

The EIT Digital Accelerator helps these companies by bringing together the knowledge of experts from 17 cities in Europe as well as a hub in Silicon Valley.

The applicants should be fast-growing, scaling companies that are less than ten years old with an existing customer base and are ready to grow at an international level. They will tackle thorny and difficult challenges from how we run our cities to the ways consumers and businesses manage their finances. Applicants are required to have either €300,000 in annual revenue or have raised funding of at least €2 million.

EIT Digital will host the final of its competition in November where the 20 companies will pitch their innovations to a jury of investors and experts and where the five scaleups will be chosen as the winners.

The competition focuses on deep tech companies using complex technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to solve intricate problems across various sectors. As the world deals with the current pandemic and the challenges that will emerge in its aftermath, the world will need big ideas that can be turned into viable, global businesses. The EIT Digital aims to support scale-ups in making that a reality.

“To overcome the current crisis, we need the imagination and the execution of the best entrepreneurs out there,” EIT Digital’s Chief Innovation Officer, Chahab Nastar said.

The Challenge has a long history of identifying and supporting the most promising European companies. Some of the previous winners have gone on to be entrepreneurial success stories after forging major international partnerships and expanding their businesses in international markets. The Icelandic digital health company SidekickHealth, for example, has deployed its platform with health authorities in Iceland to help doctors remotely manage and triage patients affected by COVID-19 – a clear case of how deep tech innovation can support society and its people. Zelros from France was one of the Digital Finance companies at last year’s Challenge and has since taken that momentum into expanding internationally, first with the German and Italian markets.

“EIT Digital’s communication initiatives helped us gain more visibility in our target markets in Europe, and we look forward to the outcome of our joint business development efforts,” Zelros’s CEO Christophe Bourguignat said.

Swiss Internet of Things company LORIOT, a winner in last year’s Digital Cities theme, is now targeting growth in Western Europe after proving its communications tech, which is used in long-range IoT infrastructure – in Central and Eastern Europe. The support from the EIT Digital Accelerator played a key role in supporting that growth.

“The EIT Digital team has been extremely supportive by opening up to its network of companies and investors and giving us the opportunity to participate in international tech events,” Yannik Kopp, business development lead at LORIOT, said.

Deep tech scaleups around Europe that fit the bill for this year’s Challenge can apply now. Applications will close on Sunday 7 June.