Launchtrack AI, a pre-acceleration program for technical founders, opens in Amsterdam
02 AUGUST 2017, AMSTERDAM
SummaryRockstart's new pre-acceleration program is dedicated to supporting talented individuals with deep technical knowledge. The equity-free program will run from August 29 to September 28, 2017. It aims to empower first-time founders, guide them through validating business opportunities for their technologies and give the best guidance to ensure that their products solve real-world problems and become viable businesses. The founders and teams participating in Launchtrack AI will have a chance to fast-track to Rockstart AI accelerator at the end of the program.
Rockstart has opened applications for Launchtrack AI, a completely new pre-acceleration program dedicated to support talented individuals with deep technical knowledge. The equity-free program will run from August 29 to September 28, 2017 in the Dutch capital. It aims to empower first-time founders, guide them through validating business opportunities for their technologies, and give the best guidance to ensure that their products solve real-world problems and become viable businesses.
The program is open for single founders and skilled technical teams, and traction is not a requirement. Applications will stay open until August 11.
Rockstart Launchtrack AI takes off in partnership with INCO, supported by mentors from different industries and some of the best AI universities in the Netherlands.
“AI will transform how we work and live,” said Kajsa Ollongren, deputy mayor of Amsterdam. “For a tech city like Amsterdam it is important to learn how AI can be used to build smarter cities. I’m happy to see that Rockstart is encouraging startups to focus on AI technology. Launchtrack AI is a true asset to our vibrant startup ecosystem. It shows Amsterdam is a leading European tech hub.”
The announcement of the program comes a few weeks after Rockstart opened applications for Europe’s first AI accelerator, which is scheduled to launch in October. The founders and teams participating in Launchtrack AI will have a chance to fast-track to the accelerator at the end of the program.
“Again Rockstart is on the forefront of developments,” said Ruben Nieuwenhuis, private lead at StartupAmsterdam. “And laying a foundation for growing Amsterdam into a city-wide AI cluster. StartupAmsterdam will join forces and actively engage in this ambition.”
Talented engineers and researchers in the AI field often join large corporations instead of building their own companies. One of the main reasons is that there’s no one to guide them on how to turn their deep technical expertise into a viable business. The goal of Launchtrack AI is to support these startups at an earlier stage in their journey to help them go out on their own and build the future.
“Launchtrack AI will provide its participants with an opportunity to meet co-founders, explore technologies and business applications, determine relevant markets and validate these all in an intense one-month program,” said Marjel Quekel, Artificial Intelligence Program Director at Rockstart. “The chosen founders will receive exposure to Rockstart’s AI Accelerator during the program and have the opportunity to be selected for the next cohort when they are ready to take their startup to the next level.
“Rockstart is determined to make the Netherlands one of the most attractive places in Europe to build AI startups and is actively engaging large international corporations, academic institutes, and the best technical experts from around the world to succeed in this mission.”
Freedom to explore
The Launchtrack AI program targets teams and single founders with expertise in AI, from recent university graduates to academic researchers to engineers working in the industry. With mentors and experts coming together to bring deep expertise on the business and product validation front, the founders will learn to apply their vast technical skills to solve major business problems. The program also includes a matchmaking element, which is there to help technical entrepreneurs form strong founding teams.
"One of the most common challenges we see entrepreneurs face in an accelerator program is that they don't know their customer well enough, or even at all, and what they are building does not match with what their actually customer needs,” said Karin van Soest, Launchtrack AI Program Manager. “The Launchtrack AI program helps founders to validate their riskiest assumptions and prove that they have a problem-solution fit before entering an accelerator."
Launchtrack AI will culminate with a Demo Day on September 28 at Rockstart’s new headquarters in Houthavens. The participants that show rapid growth and scalability of their products will have a chance to join the Rockstart AI accelerator, which kicks off in early October.
Rockstart Launchtrack AI is an equity-free program that requires full-time commitment from participants for its whole duration. Each participant will also pay a symbolic commitment fee. The program is run in partnership with INCO, as part of the latter’s Start&Code initiative sponsored by J.P. Morgan and aimed at boosting the growth of startups that create jobs for the future.
About Rockstart AI
Europe’s first AI accelerator by Rockstart will launch in October 2017 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in partnership with the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS), NVIDIA, Atlassian, Volksbank, and others. Similarly to the other Rockstart’s vertical programs, the AI accelerator aims at providing startups with access to the market, capital, community, and expertise. The scope of the program has been defined in a purposefully broad way in order to allow startups from a range of industries to work with and learn from each other. The list of mentors who will guide the founders in the intricate field of applied artificial intelligence includes Danny Lange, VP of AI and Machine Learning at Unity Technologies, Dr. Eric Postma, professor at JADS, Jasper Wognum, the founder of BrainCreators, and Christoph Auer-Welsbach, partner at IBM Ventures and initiator at City.AI, and many others.
Launched in 2011, Rockstart has accelerated over 150 startups across four core domains that have raised a total of over €87 million and generated more than 700 jobs. Passionate about driving positive change with teams from all over the world, Rockstart plans to support and invest in more than 200 startups in its core domains over the next five years, providing follow-on capital and unparalleled access to the market along the way. To do that, the accelerator partners with large players in respective industries to connect startups to their first customers and foster collaborative innovation.