The New Stuff

Europe’s Rockstart accelerator launches an AI track

Netherlands-based accelerator program Rockstar, which focuses on helping startups through their first 1,000 days, has launched a new vertical program for artificial intelligence startups — touting it as Europe’s first AI-focused accelerator.

The AI program will be accepting applications from next month, and Rockstart says it will pick ten startups for the six-month program, which will commence in September. Teams will be based in s’Hertogenbosch.

Rockstart has been accelerating startups since 2012, and is backed by partners including Google, Amazon and IBM. It says the new AI track will be supported by mentors and partners including the locally-based Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS).

There’s no specific industry focus for the program — with the idea being to attract AI startups from a range of industries. “We consciously decided not to narrow it down in order to have startups from different industries working under one roof — that’s, in my opinion, where innovation often comes from,” says a spokesman.

“We indeed have seen a number of startups with AI at their core in our other programs over the past couple of years. With this new program, we want to be able to add more value for startups like those by delivering relevant tech/business expertise, knowledge, and partnerships,” he adds.

The selection criteria for the AI track will be the same as for Rockstart’s other programs.

“We’re looking first of all at the team, and then at the product/idea and whether it’s actually demanded by the respective industry. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so one of our goals is to avoid employing a technology for the technology’s sake. In the selection process we’re going to focus, among other things, on whether AI is really the best solution for the problem the startup is trying to solve,” the spokesman tells TechCrunch.

Startups accepted for the program will receive €20,000 cash and €80,000 of “in-kind funding”, office space in Den Bosch for the duration, and support from mentors from relevant industries, as well as more than 50 perks and deals (billed as worth some €600,000) from program partners.

Named mentors for the AI track include Dr Eric Postma, professor at JADS; Jasper Wognum, the founder of BrainCreators; Dr Mykola Pechenizkiy, professor at Eindhoven University of Technology; and Christoph Auer-Welsbach, partner at IBM Ventures and initiator at City.AI.

Rockstart says it expects to take a 6 percent stake in startups entering the program — after they’ve raised their next round of funding.

Last month US based startup hothouse factory Y Combinator also launched a dedicated AI track. So while all startups will likely be AI startups in the future, there are dedicated accelerator programs springing up to plug the gap in the meanwhile.

Recently Published


Chasing dreams may be the next sleeper hit for venture capitalists

A lot of startups are pitching ways to put us to sleep lately. In ...


Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Sam Altman invest $30 million in

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman announced today that he’s ...


KidPass raises $5.1 million for its children’s activity subscription service

KidPass, a monthly membership program that gives parents access to a ...


Snap said to leverage discounts to drive growth

After a painful first-quarter miss, Snap, the parent company of the ...


Riley raises $3.1M to help real estate agents rate and respond to their leads

Businesses usually spend lots of time and money trying ...


Let’s meet in Iceland next week

I’ll be in Reykjavik next week and you know what that ...


The League is bringing its exclusive dating app to 10 more cities this summer

The League, a a dating app that prides itself on selectiveness and ...


Sana Health aims to stop insomnia with smart goggles

When Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard set out to fly around the ...

article image

Crunch Report | Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard Commencement Speech