Sirma, in partnership with Innovation Capital, is looking to support the next AI, robotics and drone startups from Bulgaria and the Balkan region
This year has been packed with news of breakthroughs in the world of technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been at the forefront of attention since the beginning and well into the scorching summer. Anything to do with large language models and generative AI attracted funding. The tech community’s efforts have been focused on rapid market validation and moving from stable prototypes to successfully launched products. Large and not-so-large companies are in the race for the next big invention. For the start-up community, venture capital funds and established companies, AI is the nexus for successful collaboration, funding and rethinking of business strategies to accelerate the development of new products and services. This is a result of the technology’s universal applications - almost everywhere and across all industry verticals.
Sirma and Innovation Capital are partnering once again for Sirma Venture Lab 2.0 after the success of last year’s event, where two companies were awarded. This year’s focus is on technology innovation, with no specific industry constraints. The program aims to discover projects from Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula that are working with artificial intelligence (AI) or implementing AI algorithms in their products and services, as well as innovative solutions for robotics and autonomous flying devices (drones). Innovation Capital, an established regional leader, will help select potential candidates, while Sirma, a technology company with experience in AI development, will support the technical and business implementation of the chosen projects.
“Sirma has always expressed an interest in investing in promising companies that demonstrate innovation potential and business growth skills,” said Yordan Nedev, CFO of Sirma Group Holding AD. The amount of funding that Sirma would participate with is up to EUR 400,000, he added.
Angel Angelov, Program Director at Innovation Capital, said, “There are many examples of funded companies that have gone from zero to 1 million BGN turnover in less than a year, as well as those that have not yet started making revenue but have great potential. The fund has been on the market for almost four years and has an overview and influence on the dynamics of the startup ecosystem, and we are aware that different industries and innovative applications have different development life cycles and different velocities of reaching MVP.” Angelov added.
“In 2023, we see a maturation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, exemplified by an increase in the quality of entrepreneurial initiatives. Companies that develop a business idea for the first time are more likely to be successful. The quality of both the ideas and the execution is of higher added value and has the potential for the company to be successful,” shared Yavor Gotchev, Program Manager at Innovation Capital.
Sirma and Innovation Capital share the common ground that mentorship, financial support, and innovative ideas are among the critical success factors for startups.
Momchil Zarev, CEO of Sirma Solutions AD and Yordan Nedev, CFO of Sirma Group Holding AD, are well-known and experienced technology leaders, visionaries and executives who participated as mentors in the first edition of Sirma Venture Lab. Both managers are dedicated to this initiative and are again the drivers of Sirma Venture Lab 2.0. A dedicated team of Sirma professionals will work closely with the selected finalists.
Sirma’s CTO, Tihomir Totev, will assist the participants in their plans to realize their ideas and will share experiences and recommendations on the technical side of creating a high-quality product. Tihomir and several other leading developers from Sirma will be the main contact persons to help startups build their MVPs and validate the potential for market breakthroughs. Moreover, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to see their products put into practice through Sirma’s wide range of technologies.
On the part of Innovation Capital, Angel Angelov, Program Director and Yavor Gotchev, Program Manager, are again participating as mentors. Their experience in business consulting will help any startup company to develop a sustainable business model and to get familiar with how the ecosystem works, as well as with accounting and legislation.
If you’re a startup founder or entrepreneur, don’t hesitate to apply for the second edition of Sirma Venture Lab.
The stages and dates are as follows:
Deadline for applications - 30 September 2023
Selection/Presentations of admitted participants - 1 to 15 October 2023
Presentation of the finalists - TBD
Learn more about the results of Sirma Venture Lab 1.0, the funded companies and their presentations here.