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The HICEE Project Will Help Startups In Central And Eastern Europe

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The goal of the HICEE (Healthy Investment Central Eastern Europe) project is to strengthen innovation in Central and Eastern Europe. The project focuses on supporting startups in this area, which usually receive only a third of the average volume of venture capital investments compared to the pan-European average.

The project consortium is led by EIT Health, a leading European network of health innovators, which is part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

Partners from different countries cooperate in the project: service providers in the field of business acceleration and investors from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, together with innovation centers from Belgium and the Netherlands. This two-year initiative is part of the Horizon Europe program, which is the European Union’s key program for supporting research and innovation.

In 2021, Central and Eastern Europe received only 3.2% of the total volume of venture capital invested in Europe. Startups in this region that received financial support received an average of 1.2 million euros, which is only a third of the European average of 3.8 million euros. According to the European Innovation Survey, regions with a lower volume of innovation, referred to as „modest and moderate innovation ecosystems“, face major challenges in attracting capital. This is due to several factors, including fewer attractive investment opportunities, a limited number of investors, and also the reluctance of investors to invest across the borders of their countries.

„Research indicates that the main cause of the investment deficit in Central and Eastern Europe is the lack of a sufficient number of projects and investors. The HICEE project seeks to improve this situation by supporting technology transfer offices, promoting knowledge sharing through capacity development, and creating a suitable infrastructure for investment in start-ups, particularly in health and life sciences. The program is aware of the specific challenges these start-ups face and aims to provide stakeholders with the necessary knowledge to successfully bring their products to market,“ explains Magda Krakowiak, Director of the EIT Health Accelerator.

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