News reaches us from the Viva Tech conference that took place in Paris last week that a glorious tech trifecta of the world’s second largest company, Google, most esteemed consultancy, McKinsey, and start-up “factory” Rocket Internet are throwing their considerable weight behind a new awards ceremony which will take place at the Slush start-up conference, in Helsinki, on either the last day of November 2016 or the first day of December.
The Digital Top 50 Awards “have been created to recognise and award the Top 50 Digital Start-ups, Scale-ups and Tech for Social Impact in Europe”, the newly set up website proclaims, adding that “the name has been chosen because it’s clear, it’s uncomplicated and it’s accurate – exactly how our candidates should be presenting their fantastic business ideas!”
The winners across each category will be invited to Google’s IO event in California, receive free coaching and consulting from McKinsey and help with their fundraising efforts from Rocket.
Top B2B and B2C start-ups and “Tech for Social Impact” winners will also receive a cash prize of €50,000 each, whilst Scale-up winners will be allowed to attend an exclusive McKinsey leadership event and receive 1 month of support from one of Rocket Internet’s expert consultants. Every member of the top 50 will receive an invitation to Helsinki to attend the awards ceremony.
There are 5 categories in total; B2B start-ups, B2C start-ups, B2B scale-ups, B2C scale ups, and “Tech for Social Impact” companies.
The competition is being endorsed by EU commissioner Carlos Moedas as patron, and INSEAD will also provide support from an academic perspective.
For both B2C and B2B early stage entrants, start-ups must have been in existence for no more than 18 months, whilst growth entrants must have been in business for more than 18 months, and have average annualised growth in employees or turnover of more than 20% per annum. Companies with a valuation greater than €1 billion are forbidden from entering.
Tech for Social Impact entrants’ main goal must be the solving of a social problem which will have a lasting impact on society, the website states.
The application form is fairly comprehensive and includes open-ended questions such as “explain why you deserve to be a winner of the DT50s in less than 300 words”, and “What does success look like for your company, how will you measure it?”
The judging panel / jury will consist of “leading figures in tech, business, and academia, who will first whittle down the entrants to the final fifty who will be invited to travel to Helsinki where the overall winners will be announced.
Says Torsten Schuppe, Senior Director of Marketing EMEA at Google, “One of the really remarkable things about digital technology is that anyone with a great idea can use the power of the web to invent the future and launch the next big thing…we want to support even more European entrepreneur’s grow & scale their ideas into exciting new businesses – this is for everyone”.
Oliver Samwer, one of the 3 Samwer brothers who founded the original Rocket Internet, said “Europe’s tech scene is growing fast…the Digital Top 50 awards are a great chance for companies to raise money but also to get access to a large network of experience and industry relevant contacts.”
And Mckinsey Partner Karel Dörner added “entrepreneurial talent is a key source driving digitization in Europe. We connect you with leading industry experts and corporates, because it is time to make something big out of your idea and your talent.”
The awards are a sign, perhaps even a statement, that all is well within the European Tech Startup scene after disappointing Q2 2016 funding figures showed a dramatic year on year fall in overall funding from $4.3bn, to $2.8bn for the most recent quarter.
Traditionally, the Europas, organised by Tech Crunch, and held in London, has been the biggest tech awards ceremony in town, Tech’s equivalent of the Oscars, in an admittedly not particularly crowded field.
But now it’s Helsinki’s turn to host what looks to be, given the stakeholders, a serious challenger to the Europa’s crown, just as Helsinki itself, thanks to the potential ramifications of Brexit, represents a serious challenger to London’s crown as Europe’s biggest tech hub.
Thankfully, however, non EU entrants are welcome to apply for the award across all categories, if they are members of EFTA, the European Free Trade Area, which means the likes of Norway and Estonia, home of Skype and latterly Fleep.io, are free to apply.