Intel ignites new start-up accelerator in Munich

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Intel Ignite is expanding to Europe. The early-stage start-up programme built by Intel is coming to Munich in April. A select 10 start-ups will participate the 12-week programme which will offer mentorship from both Intel and industry experts.

The first Intel Ignite programme ran in Tel Aviv. The programme has cycled through three cohorts in the Israeli city so far, and has seen graduate start-ups raise a combined $200m.

The programme targets start-ups pre-A stage and Zack Weisfeld, general manager and head of Ignite, said the selection process is “rigorous”. To date, more than 600 start-ups have applied and just 28 have been accepted.

“Ignite’s portfolio includes some of the most promising start-ups in the ecosystem,” said Weisfeld. Among his examples are Deci, an AI start-up that raised $9.1m in October 2020, and quantum software development platform Classiq which raised $10.5m at the start of this year.

Both these start-ups are from the Tel Aviv programme, which is now open for a fourth round of applications. As is the first round for the new programme in Munich.

A large group of people pose together for a photo in a colourful office space.

Intel Ignite Tel Aviv. Image: Intel Ignite

“The European start-up ecosystem is maturing, and more and more successful deep tech and B2B/enterprise companies are reaching higher valuations. We believe this is the right time to boost support of the European ecosystem by bringing global experience and networks from Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv through a company like Intel,” said Weisfeld.

“On the one hand, we want to be exposed and learn as much as we can from the engagement. And on the other hand, we want to drive value and let start-ups leverage the breadth and depth of Intel’s support.”

‘Munich as a start-up ecosystem is thriving, and we believe it will surpass Berlin in the next 10 years’

When it comes to start-up cities, there are many in Europe to choose from. But Weisfeld said Munich’s strengths in emerging technology drew Intel in.

“Munich is considered the IoT and industry 4.0 hub in Europe. If you look at deep tech companies, Munich is leading by far,” he said. “This is due to the excellent technical universities, but also the large enterprise and Mittelstand [SME] companies HQ base. Germany has three times the density of factories than the US. Munich as a start-up ecosystem is thriving, and we believe it will surpass Berlin in the next 10 years and become the main hub in Europe for all (deep) tech-focused start-ups.”

The best of Europe’s deep tech start-ups

Weisfeld himself is a serial entrepreneur with more than 25 years’ experience in tech, consumer and enterprise markets. As well as running Intel Ignite, he is president of Accelerating Startup Nations, an organisation supporting global start-up ecosystems, and he previously led Microsoft’s start-up outreach programme.

While Weisfeld leads Ignite globally, Stephan Heller will be MD of Ignite in Germany. He too is a serial entrepreneur having founded two successful start-ups. Watchmaster, an online marketplace for luxury watches founded in 2015, has raised more than $30m. FinCompare, a Berlin-based fintech with a financing platform for SMEs, is still led by Heller as CEO.

According to Weisfle, Ignite Munich will pick “the best deep European tech start-ups and help them drive better results, faster”.

“Ignite’s KPIs revolve around the value created for the start-ups, as well as the impact it will drive internally at Intel by providing cultural and technical learnings,” he added.

The hands-on mentorship the programme offers will span product, technology, business, management, HR, finance and more, Weisfeld said. “Additionally, Ignite provides a preferred path to the best investors and all the knowledge, resources and association that comes from being accepted into one of the most challenging and competitive accelerator programmes in the world.”

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