Applying for EU-XCEL – Frequently Asked Questions 

EU-XCEL attracted lots of attention from aspiring young entrepreneurs across Europe in 2015 with hundreds of applications received over just a short six week period.  While EU-XCEL is open to all with an interest in co-founding new international tech startups, the majority of our applicants are either recent graduates (i.e. graduated within the preceding five years) or are close to graduation (i.e. within 18 months of graduation) and have a strong and proven interest in entrepreneurship (i.e. have participated in startup courses/events, have already set up companies).  Direct entrepreneurial experience or exposure to business development/startup environments through professional/education placements is also a strong advantage.

As an ICT focused initiative, the programme favours those who an ICT education/work background but we also accept many participants from business development/marketing/management and wider subject disciplines such as health, social sciences and medicine (but with strong interests in startup development) to complement the skills of the ICT participants and ensure well rounded skill sets across teams to develop and roll-out strong market products.

Ultimately, EU-XCEL aims to develop incubator ready tech startup teams that continue long after the life of the virtual accelerator programme.  To provide teams with the strongest foundation possible, we deliver a bespoke virtual accelerator experience that includes the following three stages:

Stage 1: EU-XCEL Startup Scrum Kick-Off

  • An online start-up scrum community forum space will be established in advance of your start-up scrum where participants and mentors interact and scrum content materials will be available to you via the EU-XCEL platform to assist you prepare before scrum kick-off.
  • At your start-up scrum you will meet with like-minded tech entrepreneurs and commence the process of co-founding new tech start up teams. To ensure a good international mix, each team must include a minimum of three and a maximum of five members and must include a minimum of three different nationalities. Lots of support, advice and mentoring is provided along the way to help form the strongest possible teams.
  • The 2016 startup scrums run from Monday morning to Friday evening inclusive (dates are provided on the application form and in the terms and conditions of entry page on the euxcel website) and you must be available to travel in the 48 hours before/after scrum kick-off and close. A social event takes place on the Sunday evening to allow participants informally network before the official Monday morning scrum opening.
  • The scrum agenda includes free/unstructured session times for teams to work directly on their startup plans. These sessions are interspersed with short, focused sessions delivered by incubator managers, successful tech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and startup business coaches on pitching advice, trend ideation, team building and management, business model development advise and road maps for startup development. 

Stage 2: Inside EU-XCEL Virtual Accelerator

  • Your will be provided with access to the EU-XCEL Virtual Accelerator platform in advance of your start-up scrum. All scrum content materials and additional technical and business support tools and resources are stored here for your use.
  • Following the scrum, your team will spend twelve weeks in the EU-XCEL Virtual Accelerator where you will further refine and develop your startup idea.
  • You will be assigned a mentor at your startup scrum who will support and advise your team as you journey through the virtual accelerator.
  • Your team will be required to submit specific deliverables at key milestones in the accelerator culminating in the submission of a business plan at the end of week 12. The deliverables you submit along the way help your team focus and build the best possible business plan.


Landmark 3: The EU-XCEL Challenge Final

  • EU-XCEL short-listing committees from across Europe review the startup business plans submitted by all teams at the end of the virtual acceleration phase and select the best start-up teams to participate in the EU-XCEL Challenge Final which will take place in Munich, Germany on 24th and 25th Evaluation criteria include overall progress, market validation, compelling nature of the plan, commitment of the team and most importantly, concrete arrangements to progress the company in an incubator or a similar setting.
  • At the EU-XCEL Challenge Final, shortlisted finalists pitch their start-up plan to an international judging panel of investors, successful tech entrepreneurs and leading edge tech companies where they secure highly valued, expert advice and pointers on how to further develop their startups.
  • The Challenge Final concludes with a finalist startup showcase exhibition, a public awards ceremony and a Challenge Final reception with ample opportunities to network and grow your business connections across Europe.

No, you do not have to have a startup idea to participate in EU-XCEL, however, many applicants do have startup ideas they are interested in developing as part of the programme and pitch these to other participants as part of the team formation process at their startup scrum.   Importantly, while it is not essential to have a specific startup idea before the scrum, you must be committed to co-founding new international tech startups and have a proven interest in entrepreneurship (see our 2016 selection criteria for who should apply) and all participants are encouraged to research some potential startup ideas before their scrum takes place.

All participants are free to propose any startup ideas they are interested in developing at their startup scrum & through their online startup scrum forum prior to scrum kickoff.  However, for your idea to be adopted for development there must be sufficient interest amongst 3 – 4 entrepreneurs at your scrum who are willing to co-found a team and work on your idea and importantly, you must also be able to co-found a team with a strong enough skill set to realistically develop and progress your idea (i.e. mix of technical, coding design, marketing/business development and management skills typically required to build good startups).

Very often, the team formation and ideation process comes down to compromise and balancing your startup interests with those of others present to form the strongest possible startup team in your general area of interest.     

EU-XCEL assists and supports all participants in co-founding a team that maximises their skill sets in a startup area they are passionate about.   Participants will provide a short introductory pitch early in the scrum so everyone gets some further background on who is present and what their startup interests are.  Focused sessions on team formation pointers and tips will be organised throughout your startup scrum to help with this process and on-site EU-XCEL mentors and advisors will also be there to offer advice as participants commence the process of co-founding startup teams.

Every participant will also be asked to provide a short introductory profile in advance of the scrum and participants are also encouraged to introduce and interact with one another through their online scrum forum so participants should arrive at their scrum having some information about their scrum group prior to kick-off.  A networking event is arranged on the Sunday evening of arrival at for all participants to meet informally and ‘break the ice’ prior to the official launch of the scrum scheduled on Monday. 

Importantly, the European Commission and project partners invest substantial resources into every EU-XCEL participant through air-travel, accommodation, catering/networking costs and education/mentoring staff and incubator resources.  It is essential that our investment and resources are targeted towards the most dedicated entrepreneurs who have a genuine commitment to co-founding incubator-ready tech startups that they will continue to progress beyond the life of the EU-XCEL Virtual Accelerator programme.        

EU-XCEL participants are typically involved in full-time or part-time work and/or education and combine their work/studies with their EU-XCEL commitments.  Every participant must be available for the entire duration of their startup scrum (five working days) and to travel in the 48 hours before/after their startup scrum.  The startup scrum is followed by a twelve week virtual acceleration programme and teams are required to invest time and input regularly over these 12 weeks.  Teams are required to devise a team manifesto at their startup scrum where they agree time requirements with their fellow team members to progress their startup plan.  While it is understood that participants have other weekly commitments and the number of weekly hours need to be negotiated around this, EU-XCEL requires that vacation time cannot exceed one week over the 12 week virtual acceleration phase, that teams hold at least weekly skype meetings and by-weekly meetings with their mentors to ensure they are fully focused on developing and submitting the best possible business plan in the short time frame allowed.   

Ultimately, it is about you inputting with 2 – 4 other aspiring entrepreneurs into the co-founding of a new startup and getting it as incubator ready as possible and developing one of the strongest business plans to secure a place in the Challenge Final.

If your application is successful, a member of the EU-XCEL selection committee will notify you of a provisional offer by email no more than three weeks after the application closing date.  Please note that you may be required to complete a short skype interview with a member of the EU-XCEL team to ensure sufficient English language skills prior to receiving a formal offer.

Once it is officially confirmed that you meet the eligibility criteria and terms and conditions of acceptance (i.e. availability for a specific startup scrum, availability for the Challenge Final), you will then be required to sign a contract of agreement with EU-XCEL formalising your commitment to the programme and we will proceed with the arrangement of your flights and accommodation for your startup scrum.

See Conditions of Entry & Terms & Conditions of Participation in EU-XCEL 2016 for more information.

All participants that successfully complete the program will receive EU-XCEL will receive:

  • An official EU-XCEL Certificate of Completion (for completing the start-up scrum and 12 week virtual acceleration)
  • An EU-XCEL Challenge Finalist Certificate (for short-listing and participation in the EU-XCEL Challenge Final).
  • Advice on how to apply for one of the EU-XCEL partner’s incubator to further develop your start-up, advice on intellectual property protection related to your developed prototypes, in addition to expert startup advice from European venture capitalists, angel investors, successful tech entrepreneurs, incubator managers and technology companies at the start-up scrum and Challenge Final.

Please visit our website, where you can learn more ‘about EU-XCEL’ through our direct insights from 2015 participants, our videos, our application brochures and our photo gallery and news sections.

If you have any more questions, you can email

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