(article by Maria and Christine)

SOUL-FI held an open call for projects from 1 September 2014 to 31 March 2015 with two cut-off dates on 31 October 2014 (round A1) and 31 March 2015 (Round A2). In total, 341 applications were commenced under Round A1 and another 544 started under Round A2. Out of this total of 885 commenced applications, 405 of them were finalized and submitted before the respective deadline.

The SOUL-FI applicants come from 28 different European countries, with the majority coming from southern Europe –  from Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

 

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Of the 405 applicants, some 77% are SMEs, and 23% are web-entrepreneurs, with a similar balance between Rounds A1 and A2. When we look at the companies’ principal markets and compare the breakdown between Round A1 applicants and Round A2 applicants, we find that in both cases process manufacturing and local/central government, etc. are the dominant markets
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According to the Round A1 and Round A2 statistics, there is a similar spread of projects over the Smart Cities sub-domains. 64% of the 405 projects relate to the Mobility, Quality of Life and Tourism sub-domains. The fact that 17% of the projects are classified by the applicant as “other” reveals a wide diversity of domains for which the Smart Cities Future Internet apps and services are being developed. Interestingly, a significant number of applicants indicated that their app/service related not such to one domain, but to multiple domains. Although individually the Resources, Energy and Environment sub-domains only account for 5%, 6% and 8% respectively, together they make up almost one-fifth of applications.

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With regard to the question relating to the age of the companies, the figures reveal that more than 70% are start-ups which have been in existence for less than 5 years. Those companies in the 6-10 year age bracket account for 13%, as do the 11-20 year-olds. Only 5% of the applicants are mature companies (21-35 years). No matter whether the company is very young or mature, the trends in fund-raising and intellectual property protection are quite distinct. For example, if we look at the numbers of companies who are actively seeking to raise funds, only 18% of the applicants responded positively, whereas 82% of them said no. When it comes to intellectual property rights, 39% of the companies indicated that they owned the patent/license/copyright or had a patent pending, etc. On the other hand, 61% of the applicants had no formal IP protection.

 

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It comes perhaps as no surprise, given the accelerator nature of SOUL-FI, that an overwhelming majority of the Round A1 and A2 applicants (69%) have a very low annual turnover of between 0 – 100K€. Some 28% of the companies are in the 100 K€ – 2M€ turnover band, while only very few (3%) of the applicants earn between 2 and 5 million € or more than 5 million €.