The application window for the Mastercard Strive EU Innovation Fund is now open. The initiative is aimed at accelerating the development of solutions to support European small businesses on their digital journey.

The Strive EU Innovation Fund will provide up to 20 projects from EU member states with equity-free grants of up to €500,000, as well as any technical assistance and mentoring they may need to accelerate the development of their solutions.

Applications are open to entities of all sizes – from startups to those that are more established – provided they are soliciting innovation that helps Europe’s small business community to unlock working capital and credit through embedded finance, enhance digital safely by bolstering cybersecurity and harness artificial intelligence (AI) in business.    

“Small businesses are the backbone of the European economy and – now more than ever – it is critical that they receive the support they need to join the digital economy,” said Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard Europe. “We are excited to open the application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund and to hear about some of the best projects coming from Europe’s most innovative minds over the coming months.”

Strive EU will build on the strengths of two country-specific initiatives in Europe, Strive Czechia and Strive UK. Since launching in 2021, Strive UK has reached over 1M entrepreneurs, connecting them to resources, training, and mentors to help them navigate the digital economy. Strive Czechia is working to rapidly grow local stakeholder capacities, reaching MSEs across the country with new service lines, including peer shadowing and technical assistance, with the goal of reaching over 250,000 MSEs.

In addition to the Innovation Fund, Mastercard will establish a Strive EU Small Business Council to convene the European entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage collaboration. Chaired by Mark Barnett, the Council will comprise 10-15 influential experts, private sector entities and small business representatives, who will be announced in early February.    

The application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund will be open until March 11, 2024. To find out more, please visit: https://strivecommunity.org/innovation-fund-eu

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