iCBA Results Book
Intelligent Cross Border Accelerator” (ICBA) is a project of the INTERREG IPA Cross Border Cooperation Programme “Greece – Republic of North Macedonia 2014-2020”. The main challenge of this project was that the relevant cross-border area has a significant knowledge capital but limited capability to attract investments because of difficulty to approach and tempt investors by providing them with the required information about their potential product. In addition, its economy is suffering from several problems, including high unemployment, high brain-drain and low growth.
During the ICBA project implementation approximately 250, mostly young, and entrepreneurs involved in the accelerator process through a stage-gate process of training and mentoring, starting with general ICT-enabled business development trainings by some of the area’s top experts, and culminating in a process of intense, personalised, one-on-one mentoring for the 25-30 most promising business ideas developed either in mature start-ups or in cooperation with high level experts.
The process resulted into 30 investment-ready ideas with high potential, which will be presented to a number of investors, and can lead to new start-ups and new jobs throughout the CB area before and after the end of the project.
Within this booklet we describe in brief the most important results and outcomes of the project.
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Action Plan for the cross-border Network building
The establishment of a durable business oriented transnational network consisting of key stakeholders from the target groups from all participating countries in iCBA project is one of the main objectives and expected results of the Project. It aims at providing permanent exchange of experiences and expertise contributing to the creation of a long-term cross-border intelligent accelerator for ICT-enabled start-ups.
This action includes the creation of a cross-border network of stakeholders to ensure their involvement. The aim of the network is to build a cross-border community of all relevant stakeholders of ICT-based startup entrepreneurship. The challenge for iCBA project is to build a cross-border local ecosystem including various level actors: champers, authorities, universities, research institutes, and especially the startup society and non-formal groups.
Sectoral study of ICT-enabled sectors in the cross-border area
The study examines the economic sectors with the greatest potential for ICT-enabled start-up creation in the cross-border area between Greece and North Macedonia. Four economic sectors were selected for having the greatest start-up potential for both the Greek and North-Macedonian sides and defined according to the NACE classification system: 1) Agrofood, 2) Retail and Wholesale, 3) Tourism, 4) ICT.
The conclusions of the study recommend that the Intelligent Cross-Border Accelerator focuses on the training of aspiring entrepreneurs who will become active in these four sectors. The analysis of the cross-border area suggests that the foreseen structure and processes of the Accelerator can help overcome several of the challenges faced by the start-up scenes of both countries and help them reach their potential.
Training Needs Analysis of the target group
From the analysis and the surveys in the Greek and North Macedonian cross border areas it can be stated that both cross border areas have an important number of ICT graduates. In the Greek cross border area, 48% of the young people responders have Tertiary education, 21% Postgraduate studies. Similarly, in North Macedonian cross border 80% of them have tertiary or postgraduate education.
Survey results show that youth people in the cross-border areas need entrepreneurship education and training. A big part of the youth people in the Greek cross border area, that responded to the questionnaire, stated that their digital readiness and maturity in order to develop a new innovative business activity is sufficient and they are ready to develop a new innovative business. However, some of them stated that they are not ready, and they need first training. In addition, in North Macedonian cross border area half of the responders believe that they have the digital readiness to set up a new innovative business. From the above results, it can be concluded that youth people in the cross-border area need entrepreneurship education and training.
Accelerator Development Blueprint
Startup accelerators support early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship, and financing. Startups enter accelerators for a fixed period of time, and as part of a cohort of companies. The accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months.
Startup accelerators are known as Seed accelerators, are fixed-term, cohort-based programs that include mentorship and educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day. While traditional business incubators are often government-funded, generally take no equity, and rarely provide funding, accelerators can be either privately or publicly funded and cover a wide range of industries. Unlike business incubators, the application process for seed accelerators is open to anyone, but highly competitive. There are specific types of seed accelerators, such as corporate accelerators, which are often subsidiaries or programs of larger corporations that act like seed accelerators.
The study suggests the main methodology procedure for delivery the iCBA startup accelerator in the Greece-North Macedonia cross-border area. The study highlights four distinct factors that make accelerators unique: They are fixed-term, Cohort-based, Mentorship-driven, and finaly, they culminate in a graduation or “demo day.
Impact Assessment Report
This study is an impact evaluation of the iCBA project in terms of achieving its stated objectives and measurable outcomes and assessing the short to medium term impact that the project had in the realisation of its vision and key objectives. Its aim is to provide an overall evaluation of what the iCBA project has accomplished in the cross-border area in terms of actual impact, based on concrete, measurable data as well as on the feedback and suggestions of the actors, stakeholders and individuals that took part in the accelerator. In order to do so, the deliverable provides specific figures of what was achieved during the project’s different activities.
Capitalization Exploitation Plan
The project consortium plans to build on the project in order to maintain and expand the accelerator and establish it as a big annual event of cross-border IT-enabled entrepreneurship. Based on the results of the project, we will develop a consolidation and expansion overview with costs and income estimations and define the conditions for a self-funded organisation of the accelerator in the future.
This report is a guide as to how the iCBA project will establish continuity in the achievement of its goals.
Capitalisation Model and MoUs
For the capitalisation of the iCBA project results and for ensuring the sustainability and durability of the iCBA cross-border accelerator, it is important to develop a concrete Capitalisation Plan including all the necessary steps for the accelerator’s permanent structure. This model is described within this report.
The long-term sustainability of a networking process depends on ensuring close cooperation after the end of the Project between Stakeholders and Support Centers. The Memorandum of Cooperation is a tool that will help achieve sustainability of a startup cross-border network, based on ever-increasing data, information and support needs. Memorandum of Cooperation for iCBA Network of Stakeholders can ensure the sustainability and durability of the Network. The Memorandum is a non-binding agreement, that outlines terms and details of a mutual cooperation.
The iCBA partners have succeed to have MoUs signed by various stakeholders that will support the operation of the permanent Structure of the iCBA Accelerator.