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Ljubljana, 27 March, Opening of the ABC Accelerator at BTC City with AmCham as Co-founder

Start-up teams that qualified for the first programme of the ABC – Smart Cities Accelerator have been selected. The significant interest of young entrepreneurs confirms that there is a lot of innovative potential in our region, but there is still insufficient supportive environment which would help companies achieve a breakthrough on global markets. Applications came in from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Israel, Ukraine, South Korea, USA, and Brazil. The selected teams introduced themselves at the opening event, which began at the Crystal Palace and continued at the vibrantly furnished ABC premises in Hall IV of the BTC City shopping centre in Ljubljana.

Over 200 guests responded to the invitation to the ABC Accelerator opening event; the facility will, as of Monday 30th March, serve as the generator of development in the entrepreneurial stories of eight international teams. The comprehensive programme, which will last three months, will include workshops, lectures, mentorships, networking, testing, etc. A total of more than 150 various interactive events are planned. This will be followed by the introduction to international investors with the goal that they invest enough funds in start-ups, so that these are able to establish themselves in the competitive international environment. Once the three-month programme is concluded, the start-ups at the ABC Accelerator will be able to further perfect their business models for another three months. In Autumn, the second programme entitled Health will begin at the same location.

Keynote speakers are unanimous – Slovenia can become a reference European country in the area of innovation

In keynote addresses held by Jože Mermal, President of the BTC Management Board, Zoran Jankovič, Mayor of the City of Ljubljana, dr. Anna Prinz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, dr. Maja Makovec Brenčič, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ljubljana, Peter Righi, CEED Global Director, and Barbara Bregar Mrzlikar, Director of CEED Slovenija, a common denominator was evident – they all expressed confidence in success. Each of the keynote speakers found a competitive edge in the ABC Accelerator, due to which various stakeholders are becoming actively involved and connected, thus enhancing the strength of this generator of development in the area of entrepreneurship. The goal of ABC Accelerator is to create a more advanced business environment in Slovenia and fully develop an ecosystem that will be of interest to international investors. The story began at BTC City, a unique and innovative place – the only one in the world with such rich infrastructure, and it will continue in the region with the vision of building an active network of connections to the entire world. The role of the ABC Accelerator as a significant innovation platform has also been warmly welcomed by the European Commissioner Violeta Bulc, MSc, who attended the opening event.

Zoran Janković, the Mayer of the City of Ljubljana: I am happy and proud of the development of BTC. This was once a site featuring unattractive halls, and now plans are being made for adding value, even in the field of education. In addition to the Technological Park, the opening of the new ABC entrepreneurial accelerator will offer Ljubljana an additional place for the development of entrepreneurial environment and innovation.

Jože Mermal, President of BTC Management Board: Ljubljana is becoming a vibrant and diverse city where a developed international business environment is being created. Young people from various continents, full of knowledge and desire for success, will work in the ABC Accelerator. I believe in their success and this is why I will keep my fingers crossed in the next few months and years.

Market manifestation is the main goal of every start-up

In a relaxed atmosphere, Dejan Roljić, Director of the ABC Accelerator, and Julij Božič, General Manager of IBM Slovenia, who supported the ABC Accelerator by means of an international network of mentors and the access to no less than 42 innovation centres around the world as well as with technological infrastructure, announced the introduction of eight groups of zealous young entrepreneurs full of ideas, who would enter the first ABC – Smart Cities programme. Enjoying the motivational support of the moderator, the stand-up comedian Tin Vodopivec, who helped create a relaxed atmosphere, the guests at the Crystal Palace moved to the premises of the ABC Accelerator in Hall IV of BTC City, where “work without borders” will start on Monday. The BTC company provided 900 m2 of space for the Accelerator.

Dejan Roljič, Director and co-founder of the ABC Accelerator: The ABC Accelerator is the beginning of an international story. We enable start-ups and small companies to directly connect with large successful firms and create global stories with their help. All our co-founders, partners, and supporters understand the scale of this project. This way, Slovenia is becoming an innovative as well as a pilot country in the region, which meets all conditions necessary for a start-up to achieve a breakthrough in the global markets.

Anyone who goes through the ABC programme is a winner.

What does it mean to be a part of the ABC community? Start-ups that managed to qualify for the Smart Cities programme received an initial incentive: €15.000 in cash, the entire infrastructure in the value of over €350.000, an intensive daily programme, a unique testing area at the BTC City, where they may test their solutions and products, and the access to international investors. In return, they gave an 8% share in their companies to the Accelerator. The selected companies include: Smart Futuristic Innovations, Travel Starter, Symvaro, Styliff, Moveo, Facility, Shoppii, Venxly, as well as GoOpti as an associated team.

The teams consist of members from Slovenia, Austria, Poland, USA, and Brazil, making up a total of 45 innovative entrepreneurs. Committed work and dedication, the perfecting of their products in cooperation with mentors and by monitoring responses from the market, as well as the refining of their marketing skills are expected from each individual. The decision to cooperate represents a strong commitment and, according to Dejan Roljić, anyone who fulfils it is a winner. The ABC team of twelve dedicated individuals, who are specialists in various fields, will make sure that the start-ups feel comfortable in the Accelerator and work is carried out in accordance with the programme and set goals, and in a professional as well as entertaining manner.

Co-founders of the Accelerator: ABCTIM, BTC, XLAB, AmCham, CEED

Technology partner: IBM

Supporters: Microsoft, Cisco

ABC team: Dejan Roljić, Aleš Pustovrh, Bernard Grum, Ladeja Godina Košir, Urška Jež, Grega Potokar, Robi Pritržnik, Žiga Vavpotič, Jakob Gajšek, Leonhard Prinz, Matej Muck, Saša Lipej