Key Takeaways from the REACH Incubator Evaluation Process

Mar 21, 2024

REACH Incubator has finally come to an end. As we close this chapter, we take a moment to contemplate the outcome of three years of committed work within the REACH Incubator project.

With heartfelt gratitude, we extend our recognition to all the participants whose support has been instrumental in shaping this remarkable voyage. It has been truly inspiring to witness the overwhelming response from numerous applicants embodying the breadth and depth of Europe’s entrepreneurial spirit. Every application has brought forth unique perspectives and promising solutions, highlighting the power of innovation within our community.

Since the beginning of the project, transparency has served as the fundamental principle guiding our approach. We firmly believe that openness and clarity are essential for fostering trust and ensuring fairness throughout the evaluation process. As we conclude the REACH, we are committed to sharing our experiences and insights, in an attempt to underscore our dedication to responsibility and continuous improvement.

While the evaluation process may appear straightforward, it demands a lot of effort from both the consortium and external evaluators. Faced with hundreds of applications within constrained timelines, challenges inevitably arise. One such challenge involves navigating through “red flags” – indicators that raise doubts about the feasibility or suitability of proposals. Among these indicators are the so-called “track indicators,” which serve as warnings to automatically discard proposals lacking sufficient structure or resources to commit to the program. We deliberately postponed the disclosure of these indicators until the project’s conclusion to maintain the integrity of the evaluation process. But now is the time to make them public:

  • Team Member Profiles: The REACH incubation process requires a mix of technical and business expertise. For the final objective of getting the solutions to the market and obtaining investment rounds that would allow them to grow, it was necessary to have experienced profiles in both areas. That is why those teams with only technical profiles were considered unsuitable.
  • Dedication Time of Founders: As this is a process of transformation of startups, and although small and medium-sized companies have been considered eligible to participate, prioritizing teams whose founders committed significant time to the project was imperative for ensuring the entrepreneurial spirit necessary for success.
  • Competition Awareness: A thorough understanding of competitors is vital for achieving great results. In those cases where we obtained a negative answer to the question “Do you know your competitors?”, it was decided to discard the application, as we understood that a correct analysis of the market had not been carried out. Proposals lacking insight into competitors were considered incomplete.
  • Sales per Employee: It is no coincidence that those applications that did not have business profiles within their teams where also projecting less ambitious sales per employee. Minimum figures were established and therefore some applications discarded, due to concerns about their sustainability within the program’s duration.

In closing, we reaffirm our commitment to transparency and accountability in all our endeavours. By sharing our experiences and insights, we hope to inspire future generations of innovators to pursue their dreams with courage and conviction.

While the journey may have come to an end, the spirit of innovation ignited by REACH will continue to shape the future of Europe’s digital economy for years to come. Once again, we extend our gratitude to all our partners, stakeholders, and participants who have contributed to the success of REACH. We do so with a sense of pride and accomplishment. From supporting over 100 SME business ideas to distributing €3.5M in funding, REACH has left an indelible mark on Europe’s innovation landscape.

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