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Imec.istart Recognized as World's Top Business Accelerator in 2019

This week, imec's accelerator program, imec.istart, was ranked in the top 5 in the 'World Top Business Accelerator - Linked to University' category and No.1 in Europe. UBI Global unveiled its biannual ranking of top university incubators and accelerators at the World Incubation Summit in Doha, Qatar. The ranking puts imec.istart at the top of the list of accelerators for technology startups.

The UBI ranking is based on the UBI Global World Benchmark Study, the world's largest survey of university incubators. This year, 1,580 programs were assessed worldwide, based on more than 50 qualifying parameters that level up to the overall impact of the accelerator program on the startup ecosystem and the performance of startups within the program.

"It is an extraordinary honor to be recognized by UBI Global as a top university-linked accelerator and a confirmation of our value in the space,” said Sven De Cleyn, imec.istart program manager. “We are committed continuously improve our program to provide our startups with the best possible support. Last year, we launched a mentor service to facilitate interaction between startups and domain experts, welcomed many new corporate partners and invested in the internationalization process of our startups. We are proud to see that since the previous ranking, many of our imec.istart companies have grown strongly, both locally and abroad, and succeeded in finding follow-up financing to continue their growth beyond the program."

More than 1,200 full-time jobs and 200 million euro follow-up funding

Since its inception in 2011, the imec.istart program helped more than 200 tech startups become successful technology companies across a range of industries. Companies that are part of the imec.istart are for example Datacamp, an online learning platform for data science skills which has offices in New York and London; POSIOS (acquired by Lightspeed in 2014), that provides point-of-sale solutions for retailers and restaurateurs, Piesync (acquired by Hubspot in 2019), that developed a solution to share data between different cloud apps, Graphine, worldwide leader in graphics engineering for game developers (acquired by Unity in 2019); Ontoforce, with offices in Cambridge and San Francisco, offering a solution to improve information management and UgenTec, developing software platforms for PCR workflows in molecular labs,.... Altogether, the startups in the imec.istart portfolio created more than 1,200 full-time jobs and raised more than 200 million euro in follow-up funding.

Each euro invested by imec.istart results in 20 euro follow-up funding

The imec.istart program scores well when it comes to follow-up funding. "When startups participate in the imec.istart program, they receive an initial financial injection of 50,000 euro, said De Cleyn. “Throughout the 12- to 18-month guidance process, imec.istart supports businesses in their search for follow-up funding, mainly through imec's extensive partner network. Thanks to this intensive support, every euro invested by imec is followed by at least 20 euros in external financing."

From regional to international player

As a business accelerator, imec.istart not only helps startups through their first difficult months, but also aims to help them grow into scaleups. More than half of imec.istart companies already have customers abroad. Startups continue to land on the radar of international players in their domain, as proven by the growing number of exits. Moreover, the imec.istart program increasingly attracts international startups, with 25-30% of the applications originating from outside Flanders in most recent imec.istart open application calls.


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