Demand growing for ICUK enterprise incubator; now helping startups in foodservice industry
We’ve launched the fourth consecutive cycle of the StartUp Go! enterprise incubator. Over the course of three months, we’ll be providing support to beginning entrepreneurs, namely by means of individual mentors and specialised workshops. Now, for the first time, projects from the foodservice industry can also apply for a chance to take advantage of Foodies Go!, a wholly unique programme in the Czech Republic organised by the ICUK in collaboration with Gastrotechno Group.
Demand for support in the early stages of business is on the rise: “We had 16 applications for the current cycle of the incubator, of which we chose the top 9 projects. Only then are we able to devote the maximum degree of attention to them and really get the businesses off the ground. The selection process was definitely not easy; the bar is high and the competition stiff,” explains Radek Miškovský, manager of the enterprise incubator.
Each of the projects in the programme will be assigned its own mentor, who will spend the three months working intensely with the beginning entrepreneurs on a business plan. At the same time, specialised mentors will be available for consultation in areas such as law and marketing. Each week, the participants will attend a workshop or a meeting of companies focused on a specific topic, during which they can exchange experiences with one another. All the projects can also make use of the ICUK’s own coworking space.
A unique programme for the foodservice industry
Very positive responses have been generated by the newly launched programme called Foodies Go!, which is intended for beginning entrepreneurs in the foodservice industry. “We’ve been aware of interest in this area for some time now. People are coming to us and asking for help, because doing business in the foodservice industry is very specific and isn’t easy; moreover, it’s currently highly innovative and progressive. That’s why we decided to come up with a programme to help them get an easier start,” explains Tereza Váňová, coordinator for Foodies Go!. In addition to all the services of the standard incubator, projects will receive special mentors, true professionals from the foodservice industry. Seminars on food photography and food styling are also being planned. The main advantage, however, is the use of a professional kitchen courtesy of Gastrotechno Group, which eliminates one of the biggest obstacles for people trying to get a start in the industry. At present, the only other programme in the Czech Republic similar to this one is based in Prague.
Progress in the projects is assessed after three months by an expert panel during a public presentation event known as StartUp Go Grill, which is the traditional culmination of the enterprise incubator programme. Among other prizes, the three winning projects will be awarded checks for additional services offered by the Innovation Centre of the Usti Region. “Each of the participants can also try to capture the interest of the investors present at the event and thus get financial backing for their startup. In the previous year, for example, the Tellmehi project succeeded in securing a multimillion-CZK investment. Motivation among the competing projects is, therefore, quite considerable,” says Tomáš Siviček, director of the Innovation Centre of the Usti Region.