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Funding opportunity from the Mastercard Strive EU Innovation Fund

The Mastercard Strive EU Innovation Fund is making €4.5 million in grants available to SMEs that are creating innovative B2B solutions across Europe. This is a tremendous opportunity for actors in Oulu’s ICT ecosystem to receive significant funding that can go towards their work in exploring new markets on the continent.

What is the Mastercard Strive EU Innovation Fund?

This fund is organised by the Strive Community, a global initiative of Caribou Digital and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. The goal is to support small businesses across the European Union to make effective use of cutting-edge technologies.

Why are these funding calls being issued?

The digitalisation of several industries, accelerated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, has created a whole world of new opportunities and challenges for companies as they attempt to thrive in a changing economy. However, many are struggling to make effective use of the technologies that are available to them, whilst some are completely excluded. This initiative aims to plug that gap, as the Mastercard Impact Fund works with partners and connects them with SMEs to support them with innovative, data-first solutions.

What funding and support is available?

Grants range from €100-500k (though if proposals are applying for a total that surpasses €250k then a minimum of 10% match funding is required).

In addition, winners of grants will gain the following benefits:

  • Access to expertise from across Strive and Mastercard teams;
  • Access to select resources from Mastercard’s award-winning global support program for startups, Start Path;
  • Be paired with high-quality mentors that are relevant to their innovation;
  • Gain opportunities for exposure and publicity in collaboration with Mastercard and Strive.

What are the themes of this project?

There are four different focus themes for funding. They are:

  • AI;
  • Cyber security;
  • Embedded finance;
  • Environmental sustainability.

What is required in a proposal for funding?

As well as being aligned with at least one of the focus themes listed above, all proposed projects must:

  • Target small businesses (defined as a company with fewer than 10 employees) as customers/end users;
  • Be implemented in at least one EU market;
  • Be at least in the Product Definition stage and be ready to demonstrate a more mature phase to have been achieved by the end of the project.

It should also be noted that proposals focused on capacity building (i.e. training or mentorship) will not be considered.

Who can apply for funding?

Startups and established companies alike in Oulu can apply, as well as nonprofits and social enterprises, and it is also possible to submit a proposal as a consortium with other organisations so long as the main applicant is registered and is operating in at least one EU member state. Additionally, applicants must comply with EU and US sanctions, laws and regulations, and have a demonstrated year of legal and ethical operations and commendable performance.

Academic institutions and governmental entities cannot apply for funding.

How do I apply and find out more information?

When is the closing date for proposal submissions?

The application deadline for the first round of applications is Monday 11th March at 1pm Finnish time.