At this year’s Connected Conference, we were excited to have on board the first hardware-focused accelerator based in Northern and Eastern Europe, Buildit. While there are hundreds of accelerators around the world, very few focus on hardware. Buildit is looking to change all of that.
With a first, successful season under their belts, they’re now gearing up for their second, kicking-off in September. As such, the Buildit team have launched a global call for startups working on a product with a hardware component. Some examples include innovations related to consumer electronics, wearables, IoT, robotics, UAVs – or any other useful, cool physical device.
Buildit’s 3-month acceleration program includes:
- equity investment of up to 20K EUR per team
- excellent on-site prototyping facilities and free coworking space
- network of 90+ high-profile mentors
- manufacturing contacts in Asia and much more
The deadline, which is rapidly approaching, is July 20th. So if you’d like to be a part of the next season, make sure to apply asap here.
The Buildit Story
I recently caught up with Aleksander Tõnnisson, Buildit’s Co-Founder & CEO, who gave me a bit more background on Buildit, the benefits for hardware startups of joining an accelerator and what makes Buildit unique.
Tell me more about Buildit. How did it get started and what are you looking to achieve?
We saw a need for specialized accelerator as there are well over 200 startup accelerators in the world, but only few are focused on hardware. Yet we are experiencing a revolution as hardware is becoming the new software and we are still in the early adaptors stage. Product development and manufacturing have become cheaper and more available for small companies, but many still struggle with even the basics. Plus the fact that many ex-software engineers are now building hardware, but starting up a hardware company is very different than launching a software one. Also, our machine shops were underutilized and we thought why not giving hardware startups access to our tools.
The Connected Hardware ecosystem in Europe seems to be flourishing at the moment. What are some of your observations about the sector?
I remember someone at the Connected Conference saying that everybody is talking about Internet of Things, but nobody likes to build the things in it. If you look what is happening on the market, we really haven’t seen anything revolutionary yet. Just to bring you an example, we still haven’t witnessed somebody being able to build a mesh network with low energy consumption and wide reach. Sigfox on the other hand is a good example of technology that opens up new possibilities for products and services utilizing their network.
Tell me a bit about some of the startups that have come through Buildit. What are some of the interesting innovations developing there?
We are still in the middle of the first batch, so it’s bit early to tell what exactly our startups are building and no way to tell how successful they are or going to be. The accelerator´s first batch of five teams deals with fields such as navigation, data processing, communication, health and gaming; their upcoming products promise benefits ranging from reducing cycling accidents from hand-held navigation devices to delivering a more enjoyable iPad gaming experience. One of them by the way is tackling the mesh network problem.
What do you think are the specific benefits for Connected Hardware startups of joining an accelerator?
Benefits for connected hardware startups are the same as for any other hardware startup. If it’s a connected device, the startups can take full use of our digital electronics laboratory equipment for testing and measuring. We also try to tailor our mentoring program depending on the startups accepted to the program.
I know there are other Connected Hardware accelerators popping up in Europe and elsewhere. What do you think makes Buildit unique?
Something what we haven’t seen in other hardware accelerators in Europe is the onsite complicated equipment, be it for fine mechanics, prototyping or digital electronics. We focus on early stage companies and more on product development, because this is where we can offer the most value. Other accelerators (e.g. HighTechXL in Eindhoven) tend to focus more on later stage companies and on the business side.
The deadline to apply for Buildit’s second season is July 20th. Learn more and apply @ www.builditaccelerator.com.
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