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How RIF’s PRE-SEED programme enabled Cypriot startups to take off

Four successful entrepreneurs who have taken part in the Research and Innovation Foundation's (RIF) PRE-SEED funding programme have relayed how it has helped their startups get off the ground.

"Over the past few years, Cyprus has made great headway in research, technology and innovation," RIF said in a press release. "Leading this progress are the researchers and entrepreneurs who dared to dream and are now seeing their hard work pay off. The Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF) has been their long-standing supporter, giving the Cypriot ecosystem a much-needed boost through its wide range of funding programmes and support services, catering to all needs."

PRE-SEED is one of RIF's most important programmes, having supported the creation and development of new startups by allocating more than €3.5m in funding and creating more than 50 new jobs since 2019. RIF’s Director General, Theodoros Loukaidis, said: “We envision a thriving startup ecosystem, with high added value for the local community and a significant global footprint. By investing in the new generation of startups, we boost our country’s economic growth. Startups are a source of investment and new jobs, they accelerate technological advancement and develop cutting-edge innovations, which respond to real needs and challenges. This is why we continue to support them throughout their journey and in various ways.”

Watch a video of four entrepreneurs who took part in the programme explain how PRE-SEED helped their companies:

Maria Terzi, Co-Founder & CEO Malloc (Privacy and Data Security Solutions)

“The funding we received from RIF was crucial for Malloc’s initial steps”, Malloc’s Co-Founder and CEO, Maria Terzi notes. “It gave me the opportunity to leave the research centre I was working for and dedicate myself to the company”. “Through the programme, we developed an initial version of the app and acquired our first users. This allowed us to attract foreign investors”, she explained, since Malloc managed to join the Y Combinator programme and secure investments of €2m from the US.

Marios Kyriakou, Co-Founder and CEO, SmartCyclo (Cycling Training Platform)

SmartCyclo’s co-founder, Marios Kyriakou stated: “We secured a significant grant from this competitive programme, which allowed us to build a talented team, conduct extensive research and successfully develop our innovative prototype”. He added that “developing a startup is a challenging journey – but RIF’s programmes offer substantial support for innovative ideas targeting the international market. With dedication, hard work and a strong network, you can turn your innovative idea into a successful venture”.

Kostakis Mattheou, Founder & Managing Director, MEDTL (Next generation Health Services)

“I would advise all young people with an innovative idea to go for it”, Kostakis Mattheou, Founder and CEO of MEDTL pointed out, adding that “RIF offers many tools I would encourage everyone to make the most of”. Explaining how the programme impacted his own company, he stated that Foundation’s funding primarily gave them a push them to continue their work, by allowing them to hire scientific staff with the right skillset. “We were then able to develop and turn our ideas into an innovative product”.

Pambos Antoniou, CEO at IQ3SOLAR (Platform for PV park performance monitoring)

For his part, CEO of IQ3SOLAR, Pambos Antoniou stressed the importance of the Foundation’s support, beyond the funding. “We gained access to networking events, such as REFLECT, and exhibitions all around the world” he said, adding that “there is now an emphasis on commercialization, which is critical for a startup”. Addressing ambitious young entrepreneurs, Mr. Anastasiou noted that “through the programme, you will have the opportunity to create something new. You will learn a number of things and open doors that would not have opened otherwise”.

Turn your idea into a reality – New opportunities of €1.2m

With a budget of €1.2m, the new call of proposals under the PRE-SEED programme offers funding of up to €119,999, with beneficiaries automatically gaining access to RIF’s free-of-charge knowledge transfer and innovation support services.

In a statement, the RIF’s Director General, Theodoros Loukaidis expressed his satisfaction over the success of the startups that received funding from previous PRE-SEED calls. “I am confident that, in the future, we will see more successful startups with equally impressive results and an even greater impact for Cyprus”, he added.

It should be noted that as part of the new call, RIF is promoting the further involvement of women in the sector by including a special term, prioritising proposals with women as project coordinators in order to qualify to Stage B of the evaluation process.

Therefore, if you have an innovative idea that you want to bring to market, the PRE-SEED programme may be the right tool to turn your idea into reality!

The final deadline for submissions is 3 November 2023. For more information, you may visit the RIF website here.

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