The International Startup
Competition 2022

The PROMETHEUS project (https://hei-prometheus.eu/) is an initiative of Universities, Research Centres and Enterprises from Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Romania and North Macedonia. Our vision is to foster institutional engagement and change, through developing innovative and sustainable systems and services, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the area of digital transformation related to circular economy, climate change and sustainable development. PROMETHEUS is funded by the European Union, under the EIT HEI Initiative (eit-hei.eu).

The PROMETHEUS International Startup Competition 2022 aims to embrace early stage business ideas leading to either innovative startups or social entrepreneurship approaches including new applications and technological ideas, relevant to the objectives of the PROMETHEUS project, in the domains of Digital Transformation and Sustainable Development. Emphasis will be placed not only on awards but on the systematic assistance and finding of resources for startups in the long run. The best business ideas will be awarded, widely publicised and further supported for their implementation through associated incubators, accelerators and funding agencies. The competition is supported by mentors from the PROMETHEUS Network, comprising leading academics and industry / public sector executives, who will provide their advice for the development of business ideas.

Competition Stages 

The competition is conducted in three stages: a) submission of initial ideas, b) submission of business plans by the teams that qualified and c) final presentation of the teams and ideas that stood out from the second stage. 
The activities that constitute the competition are conducted mainly via the PROMETHEUS Entrepreneurship Acceleration Platform: https://hei-prometheus.eu/entrepreneurship-acceleration-platform/

For the first stage, which is conducted online, candidates – teams are invited to upload a short, clear and documented description of their business idea, based on the template (online submission form) available on the competition website. The key aspects of all the proposals of the first stage will be put in public view, on the platform, so that prospective partners and investors can engage with them. To qualify for the second stage, the originality, feasibility and completeness of each proposal, the connection with the objectives of the PROMETHEUS project and business needs as expressed through the platform will be taken into account.

The proposals that qualify for the second stage will compile and submit a complete business plan, based on a template that will be given to them, which can lead to the establishment of a business and will be sufficient to be evaluated by potential financiers. The teams of the second stage will be supported by mentors with suitable expertise, assigned according to the content of each business idea. Communication and related sessions between mentors and team members will be done digitally. The evaluation of the proposals in the first two stages will be done by a team of evaluators, which consists of university professors, experienced market executives and representatives of the public sector.

In the third stage, the best business plans, selected after the relevant 2nd stage evaluation, will be presented at the final event of the competition, before a jury composed of renowned members of the university community and the market. The final presentation, which is usually live, includes a short presentation of the team and their ideas as well as answers to relevant questions by the judges and the audience.

Participating Tracks

The participants of the competition can fit into one of the following Tracks: 

  • Track A – Students of a university program of study (undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral candidates, postdoctoral), individually or in teams, in which the majority of members have the above qualities;  
  • Track B – Operating research teams (researchers, Ph.D. and postdoctoral candidates, students, or graduates, but also faculty members) who will propose business ideas for the commercial exploitation of research results that have been completed;
  • Track C – Individuals/ Citizens, individually or in teams, who do not fall into Tracks A or B, and who want to come up with innovative business ideas related to the competition.

Each individual candidate can participate in a maximum of two proposals – teams. The participation of teams that have already started the commercial presence or the exploitation of the proposed idea is discouraged.

Thematic Areas

Proposals are submitted in one of the following thematic areas, which are aligned to the PROMETHEUS project objectives:

  • Digital Transformation: e.g., data-driven entrepreneurship, digitally-enabled business models and digital transformation in new digital products & services.
  • Circular Economy: e.g., circular economy solutions and management, sustainable materials, circular industries, cities, and buildings, utilisation of technology in circular economy as well as the relation between climate change and circular economy.
  • Smart Manufacturing: e.g., smart manufacturing technologies, smart and green connection, Industry 4.0, computer integrated manufacturing as well as smart and sustainable product development and management.
  • Environmental Protection: e.g., environmental awareness, sustainable development, the “reduce, reuse, recover” policy, waste and wastewater streams, treatment & valorization methods and finally the environmental monitoring and protection.
  • Bio-Economy: e.g., strategic innovation in the area of bioeconomy, biobased economy, biotechonomy, bioresources management as well as SMART integration of bioeconomy to circular economy.
  • Climate Change: e.g., climate mitigation, climate adaptation, climate sustainability, “smart climate” integrations, communicating climate change as well as policy making aspects related to climate change.
  • Sustainable Development: other innovative ideas or solutions for Sustainable Development, relating to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (https://sdgs.un.org/goals).

The ideas proposed can combine aspects from various thematic areas. However, each idea can be linked to only one thematic area, as the most relevant. All proposals must come up with a clear business model for revenue generation and focus on scalability.

Terms of Participation

The ideas should comply with the following criteria: 1) include new apps or technological ideas related to one of the competition’s thematic areas, 2) participants fitting to one of the tracks mentioned above.

Eligibility criteria

The competition will be open to:

  • Individual participants should be over 18 years of age. For groups, more than 2 participants should be over 18 years of age.
  • Business Ideas submitted in English.

Submission Steps

The steps that participants have to follow in order to submit a business idea are the following:

First phase (easy apply):

  1. Find teammates and prepare a short & clear description of your business ideas.
  2. Attend dedicated innovation & entrepreneurship workshops. 
  3. Adjust/refine your idea based on workshops.
  4. Submit the initial description of your idea through the PROMETHEUS Entrepreneurship Acceleration Platform:  https://hei-prometheus.eu/entrepreneurship-acceleration-platform/ 

Second phase:

  1. Receive mentoring tailored to each team needs.
  2. Submit a complete business plan in the template that will be published.

Third phase:

  1. Present your idea during the Award Ceremony (finalists).

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Completeness of the idea 
  2. Innovation: the degree of new and original idea/ application creation
  3. Circular footprint
  4. Technological feasibility 
  5. Economical viability 
  6. Impact, sustainability and scalability
  7. Team capacity: How well suited is the team to make it happen
  8. Relation with EU values & priorities
  9. Relation to a specific industrial/societal need

Evaluation Committee

Each business idea will be examined by the aforementioned committee. The committee is proposed to be formed by experts from the following fields of Entrepreneurship, Technology and Digital solutions, Public sector/administration, and  Universities’ experts in Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Benefits & Awards

The teams/ ideas  that will win in their respective category and/ or thematic area will receive the following benefits and awards:

  1. Publicity – All teams that will be distinguished 1) will be published through the website of the competition and related publications, 2) will have access to mentors to optimise their idea and seek further funding or other assistance, 3) will have access to support infrastructures and digital tools. The competition will be disseminated through the project’s core dissemination channels to students, academics, companies, EU organisations and initiatives, venture capitals  and more. 
  2. Mentoring – PROMETHEUS will mobilise a network of 50 high calibre, international market experts that have crystallised general or special business experience. The mentors of PROMETHEUS will assist in shaping an idea, through the provision of educational and consulting work. 
  3. Seed financing/ monetary prizes – PROMETHEUS will distribute 25.000 euros to the best business ideas, as they will emerge after the final stage of the competition. This seed financing ranging from 1.000 to 10.000 per idea/ team will be given in the form of covering the costs for the further preparation, dissemination or implementation of the business idea, without any other obligation by the teams.   
  4. Exploitation of direct market opportunities with PROMETHEUS network organisations from the public or private sector, participating in the activities of PROMETHEUS. Organisations can state their needs that can potentially be met by startups or actions, and then act as angels for an idea.
  5. Roadshow of later stage Startups to our team of Venture Capital and Angel Investors in order to attract interest for supporting an idea, financing it or providing an important service or resource.
  6. Utilisation of EIT community programs (Summer / Master / Doctoral Schools) and tools such as (indicatively) the AGORA, a new social network and open innovation platform and Skills.move Learning Platform of EIT Manufacturing, Digitalised Testbeds and Skills for Future (Cross-KIC activities)​.
  7. Scholarships (i.e. for admission to a Master’s program) offered by the consortium HEIs or by the supporters of PROMETHEUS, will be announced during the competition.

The organisers of the competition reserve the right not to announce a winner in any category or subject area, if the relevant proposals do not have the required quality. All participants who will take part in the competition will be given a certificate of participation, depending on the stage they have reached.

Timeline

The timeline of the competition is presented in the following table:

16 May 2022 Launch of the PROMETHEUS innovation and entrepreneurship competition
31 July 2022 Deadline for submitting ideas (first stage)
22 August 2022 Notification of the ideas/ teams that will proceed to the second stage
1 November 2022 Deadline for submitting complete business plans (second stage)
15 November 2022 Notification of the ideas/ teams that will proceed to the final stage
December 2022 Presentations by the finalist teams, evaluation and awards