European start-ups can access EU funding worth €80 million, if they use an open internet platform to develop their web-based businesses.
The European Commission today (17 September) announced the money would be available for internet SMEs and entrepreneurs, using FIWARE technology.
More than 1,000 enterprises and app developers using FIWARE will benefit from funding of up to €150,000, the Commission said.
Unlike other sources of capital for start-ups the funding is direct, meaning entrepreneurs do not have to trade equity in the company for finance.
FIWARE is an open-source, royalty free platform, meaning online services and apps using it should be able to reach the market faster, the Commission said.
The platform provides the building blocks for web products and services but it is up to entrepreneurs to come up with the new business ideas themselves.
By providing the toolbox, the Commission wants to encourage entrepreneurship. It has earmarked Europe’s digital economy as part of the solution to the EU’s sluggish economic recovery. Innovative SMEs can drive jobs and growth, it believes.
Since the financial crisis, SMEs and start-ups have struggled to get funding. Banks are not lending as much as they used to and are more risk-averse.
Other sources of capital, such as crowd-funding or venture capital, are not providing enough funding to enough SMEs.
Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, “Many apps have already been built using the FIWARE programme – from warnings of earthquakes to preventing food waste to Smartaxi apps.”
The technology could be used by SMEs and entrepreneurs to develop internet services faster and better, she said.
Successful applicants will get funding, mentoring, support, coaching and networking help from the FIWARE Accelerator.
The Accelerator, which selects the winning bids, is a public-private partnership and a network of European organisations.
The first call for new proposals was launched earlier this month, with a second scheduled for the 17 and 18 September.
Entrepreneurs must submit a proposal for the new online service, identify which specialist sector it is aimed at, and set up their start-up team.
The program can bring together traditional industries such as manufacturing with new innovations in information and communications technology.
It follows a series of large scale trials by larger businesses using the FIWARE technology in the energy, health, and smart manufacturing and agriculture industries.