- The overall winner of the event was MapTiler, which develops its own maps, competes with Google and overcame competition from nine other start-ups.
- The special Microsoft prize was awarded to Wereldo logistics software.
- Spectators most highly valued Mebster, an exoskeleton for people with lower-body paralysis.
Who are the rising stars of the start-up scene? This question was answered by CzechInvest's Start-up Challenge, which took place at the beginning of December 2019 at the Royal Theatre in Prague. CzechInvest’s challenge in the form of a short pitch was accepted by ten innovative companies – Brigr, Cash Reader, Codeac, FaceUp, MapTiler, Mebster, Miitis, Sharry Europe, Virtual Real Life and Wereldo – that competed for primacy. All of these companies had participated in CzechInvest programmes in 2019.
Expert in foreign expansion
“On average, five start-ups head out into the world with us every month. We wanted to familiarise the public and the start-up community with those that were involved in our programmes for entrepreneurs this year and that have strong potential or an extraordinary idea,” says Markéta Přenosilová, head of CzechInvest’s Startups Department.
The start-up Octogeo with its MapTiler product had the greatest appeal for the expert jury. The company can thus look forward to a prize in the form of a wildcard berth in the final of the V4 Startup World Cup & Summit 2020, one of the most important start-up events in Europe, and nomination to the Annual Investment Meeting 2020 in Dubai, as well as consultations with Lubo Smid and STRV's technical team, investor screening from the Nation 1 investment fund and a media bundle from Roklen 24.
Octogeo is the developer of a map platform that is an alternative to Google Maps. The maps can be easily adapted for one’s own use, do not contain advertisements, respect the privacy of end-users and function in a closed company environment and offline. The start-up is currently developing its business in the ESA BIC space incubator.
Every month, two hundred million users view maps created by the Czech team. They are used by developers on their websites and in mobile applications. “You can find our map data today on Seznam’s Mapy.cz, on Slevomat and on the Reality iDNES portal,” says Petr Přidal, founder and CEO of MapTiler, listing the company’s current biggest Czech clients. Its major global clients include, for example, SIEMENS, NASA, BBC and IBM.
MapTiler’s victory in the Start-up Challenge is not the company’s only success, as it also won an award in last year’s Copernicus Masters, known as the “space Oscars”, in Tallinn, Estonia, in the Airbus Challenge category, which brought the company access to Airbus satellite data. “That was essentially the start of collaboration thanks to which satellite images acquired by Airbus satellites can be seen on our maps,” Přidal explains. In 2018, the company also travelled in connection with the CzechDemo project to the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco and Web Summit Lisbon in order to gain experience and contacts abroad.
Logistics software and an exoskeleton
The special Microsoft prize was awarded to Wereldo, which offers software for more transparent and less expensive logistics anywhere in Europe. The software enables measurement, analysis and subsequent optimisation of logistics processes and saves dispatchers time in manufacturing and distribution companies. The start-up received an opportunity to collaborate with mentors from Microsoft, use coworking spaces and participate in Microsoft’s educational and marketing events. The company also won a ticket to the Envision Forum and was nominated to the Microsoft for Start-ups programme.
Mebster was named the winner of Start-up Sympatico based on voting by members of the audience, for which purpose they could use an application from the company Eventee, which itself had previously participated in CzechInvest programmes. Mebster is the developer and manufacturer of Unilexa, the first Czech exoskeleton for people with partial or complete paralysis of their lower extremities, thus helping such people to stand on their own feet.
The partners of the event were the Startup World Cup & Summit, Microsoft, STRV, Nation 1, CzechStartups.org, Roklen 24, the Ministry of Economy of the UAE and the alumni start-up Motionlab, Eventee and Hardwario.
CzechInvest has been focusing on support for start-ups since 2011. The agency offers four programmes for entrepreneurs – CzechStarter, CzechDemo, CzechMatch and CzechAccelerator. Innovative start-up companies using space technologies in everyday life can use the services of the ESA BIC incubator. CzechInvest has supported two hundred start-up companies over the past four years.