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New Venture Builder set to invest €1.5M equity-free to address funding shortages and growth difficulties among deeptech startups in CEE

  • Ventures Thrive will accelerate 32 European startups with equity-free funding, specialised masterclasses, and strategic partners
  • Startups are invited to submit their interest. Applications open in January 2023 targeting climate-tech solutions

Brussels, 7th of December, 2022 - Today at the European Innovation Council Summit, Wolves Summit, Acceler8 and Anthology Ventures announce the launch of Ventures Thrive - a new pan-European venture building studio to accelerate deeptech startups with equity-free funding and a curated growth programme. The initiative is funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and is set to address funding shortages and growth difficulties among deeptech startups in CEE. 

Over the course of two years, Ventures Thrive will invest a cumulative €1.5M in 32 selected deeptech startups from Central Eastern Europe and widening countries (such as Malta, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Moldova, Georgia, etc). 

The first cycle is set to begin in April 2023 and is targeted at deeptech solutions in the climate tech sector

Figure 1. Private funding into European deep tech is lagging.
Source: Patrik Sobocki’s keynote speech on European Tech
Funding Landscape at NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech
Business Summit 2022 – his source:

The European innovation landscape has a shortage of research-backed startups and unicorns compared to stronger regions such as the US and China (Fig. 1).

European founders face multiple barriers to commercialisation due to the cultural, legal, and economic fragmentation of the European market.

Recent PwC’s Net Zero Future50 report, produced in partnership with Wolves Summit, shows that the climate tech ecosystem in CEE is in its early days, especially when compared with more developed climate tech hubs – or other start-up hubs in general. According to the study some of the most underfunded sectors include Food, Agriculture and Land Use sector (attracting 2.26% of total funding), an the Energy sector (a mere 1.29%). Although Poland has the largest economy in the region, and it serves as a strategic hub for some industries, start-ups in Poland only raised 4.65% of total CEE climate tech funding.

Ventures Thrive’s first programme cycle targets specifically deeptech solutions solving pressing challenges within key sectors such as energy, food, agriculture and waste, transport/mobility, sustainable finance, and more. 

Historically, founders in CEE lacked the networks, funding and connections that entrepreneurs in Western Europe and the US could otherwise easily tap into. At Ventures Thrive our mission is to support deep tech founders on their journey to go-to-market by filling the funding gaps at an earlier stage. 

A core element of the programme is matching selected ventures with key challenges defined by our programme partners with the ultimate goal of increasing the chances of commercialisation It’s clear that the best days for Central Eastern Europe remain ahead of us, said Michael Chaffe, CEO of Wolves Summit.

To address the funding shortage and scaling challenges, selected companies will be matched with investors and strategic corporate partners to accelerate the rate of commercialisation and de-risk the chances of failure. Ventures Thrive also aims to raise an additional €7.5M in equity funding, €10M in public funding and over €1M in procurement opportunities. 

Who can apply

Ventures Thrive was designed for growth-stage (TRL Level 6 and beyond) businesses from CEE and widening countries that employ deeptech technologies (blockchain/DLT, AI/ML, nanotech, etc.). 

The 8-month programme will accept applications from both privately and publicly funded ventures including portfolio companies of the EIC accelerator or other deep tech related programmes like Eurostars, HEurope, Digital Europe Programme or MS programmes. 

Why Apply

  • €1,500,000 million EQUITY-FREE: Every company accepted to the programme is eligible for up to  €100,000 equity free funding (cash + services) subject to reaching programme milestones).
  • A 8 month growth programme providing hands-on support and masterclasses on a wide range of topics such as legal, finance, go-to-market and assistance in identifying and applying for R&D grants.
  • Access to a global network of mentors, corporate partners, industry experts, and investors from 20+ countries.
  • Connections to the leading corporates in your industry for pilot projects, partnership opportunities, and as customers.
  • Increase visibility by celebrate in-programme achievements in front of 1000+ investors, corporates, mentors, fellow entrepreneurs and press attendees during a Demo Day event.

Startups are invited to submit their interest at The applications will open in January 2023. 

If you are an investor looking to diversify your portfolio or you have innovation in your title and wish to collaborate with ambitious founders, get in touch with the programme team at to find out more about how you can get involved. 

About Ventures Thrive 

Ventures Thrive is an 8-month venture building programme designed to accelerate the growth of CEE deeptech ventures by providing access to 1.5m EUR equity-free capital, masterclasses, and an international community of corporate partners, investors and world class industry leaders. 

The programme is hybrid and culminates with a Demo Day event where startups will be presenting live in front of hundreds of local and international investors and business professionals. Ventures Thrive runs for two years and only selects 12-14 startups to fund each cycle. Organised in collaboration with Wolves Summit, Acceler8 and Anthology Ventures, Ventures Thrive is funded by the European Union. For more information about Ventures Thrive please visit 

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EISMEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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Learn more about Ventures Thrive and how to get involved.

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Ventures Thrive, project No 101073762 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe framework programme, under the European Innovation Council’s StartUpEU initiative.

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