A new kind of tech accelerator has launched in one of the more unlikely places: the Italian Alps. TechPeaks (see what they did there?) calls itself a “People Accelerator” because individuals and teams will be able to join it without an idea but a desire to build something. It will launch with €13 million in funding. It’s also taking more of a partnership rather than competitive approach, working with seven Technology Universities (via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology ICT Labs) and seven other international tech accelerators, listed here. The idea is to help unite the many fragmented European tech initiatives. And oh my are they are fragmented.
TechPeaks says it will have connections to the local tech university in Trento and its research centre, as well as up to €200,000 equity matching funds post-programme. We covered the region’s amazing initiatives here.
Individuals or teams with “deep technical or design” expertise can apply before April 5th and – if selected – get six months free housing, free food and a free office in the Italian Alps, plus support to get visas there if needed. Doesn’t sound bad, huh?
In terms of funding, it’s low, but comes in the form of a €25,000 grant, not equity, which might be attractive to some given that none of it needs to go for costs like office space. The €25,000 non-equity grant is made possible because Techpeaks is backed by the Trentino region of Northern Italy which wants to grow the technology ecosystem in the area.
The programme also boasts that it will have access to 40+ mentors from all over the world — the UK, US, and Russia, as well as companies like Jawbone, Eventbrite, UberVu, Zemanta, Barkbox in NYC.
Drew Nagda, Director of Corporate Partnerships for Lean Startup Machine – a partner – says the programme will use using lean methodologies.
The idea is reminiscent of the Startup Chile initiative, which offered various incentives to attract technology entrepreneurs and made a lot of noise while it did it.
Key organiser Evan Neilsson tells me: “We decided there was a void in the industry between universities and accelerators. We’ll accept Individuals and Teams. Hackers, designers and product people are applying from Russia, E. Europe, Balkans, Italy, and some from the United States. If you come with a business already, you focus on that business, but some people might love your product and would like to join you. Or you can come alone and after a month form a team with the others there and start building something new.”
Carlos Eduardo, partner of Seedcamp thinks TechPeaks is an “ambitious idea” and thinks the main challenge for it will be how to achieve the best results and convert “bright talented individuals into great founders of startups.” However he feels it has the “potential to really boost the European startup ecosystem and
motivate people, so we are very supportive.”