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


Sense360 raises $7 million to track customers in fast food restaurants

Physical tracking in shops has been a global trend since at least ...


Lyrebird is a voice mimic for the fake news era

A Montreal-based AI startup called Lyrebird has taken the wraps ...


Oscar Health officially rolls out its small business product Oscar for Business

Oscar Health, a startup rethinking health insurance for the digital ...


Desktop Metal reveals how its 3D printers rapidly churn out metal objects

Today, Desktop Metal revealed pricing and other details for its 3D ...


Apple to launch new educational sessions at stores, including advanced courses, performances, labs & more

Apple announced this morning a new initiative aimed at offering ...


Greg Mark of Markforged talks about putting metal into the microwave

When a guy like Greg Mark emails it pays to reply. Mark, who is the ...


MikMak is using mini infomercials to help retailers turn their stories into sales

MikMak, the New York-based startup that is trying to make short and ...


Axios co-founder Mike Allen will discuss the evolution of media at Disrupt NY

Thanks to his work at Politico, Mike Allen has been described as ...


Facebook shows Related Articles and fact checkers before you open links