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imec ranked number one start-up accelerator by UBI Global

17 May 2023

Imec, the Leuven-based world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, today announced that it was placed first by UBI Global in its biennial ranking in the category World Top Business Accelerator - Linked to University. The 2023 ranking was announced at the World Incubation Summit.

The ranking is based on the UBI Global World Benchmark Study, the world’s largest screening of (university) incubators and accelerators. In the past three editions of the ranking (in 2015, 2017, and 2019) imec’s start-up accelerator program secured a spot in the top five. This year’s edition counted 1,895 participants. 109 programs from 56 countries were selected based on a comprehensive list of more than 50 parameters mainly classified into three categories: impact on the ecosystem, performance of the program, and performance of the portfolio start-ups. Imec was ranked number one.

"This result is a great recognition of what we have achieved in the past years together with our entrepreneurs, start-ups, spin-offs, partners, and the broader ecosystem. It’s also the first time since the launch of the UBI ranking that the global number one position originates from a ‘small’ region. We are extremely proud to further position our region on the world map. Despite our characteristic Flemish modesty, which also makes entrepreneurs often think too small, we are capable of realizing grand things,” says Sven De Cleyn, program director at imec.istart, imec’s start-up accelerator program.

Besides being world-class in research and development, imec can also be proud of its leadership in supporting start-ups and spin-offs. “Over the past years, imec has strongly invested in deep tech venturing, in creating spin-offs that bring unique technology to the market and in start-up support. This approach has paid off with international recognition. This motivates us to continue on the chosen path,” says Luc Van den hove, president and CEO at imec.

“Imec has a long history of launching start-ups and supporting innovative ideas. We have invested significantly in the professionalization of our spin-off operations, resulting in 27 new deep-tech ventures relying on fundamental imec innovations in five years, valued more than 350 million euros. Imec venturing activities now focus on two new growth pillars. In addition to establishing its own spin-offs, imec is increasingly focusing on supporting external deep-tech start-ups. Moreover, as imec is developing its global footprint, we ambition to bring a significant entrepreneurial impact in the ecosystems where imec sets foot. Many start-ups are supported by the imec.xpand investment fund for their first funding or are boosted by the imec.istart accelerator. Hence, imec not only creates impact through R&D, but increasingly also through entrepreneurship”, says Olivier Rousseaux, Director Venturing at imec.

2,800 full-time jobs, almost 700 million euro follow-up funding

Since its launch in 2011, imec.istart has supported more than 290 tech startups in very different sectors, to grow into successful tech companies. Together, these start-ups have already created more than 2,800 full-time jobs and raised almost 700 million euro in follow-up funding.

The imec.istart-program offers start-ups an initial financial injection of at least 50K euro and, for 12-18 months, support in their growth, and in attracting clients, employees, and follow-up funding through imec’s broad partner ecosystem. Each euro invested by imec.istart, results in at least 39 euros of external follow-up funding for each start-up.

Crossing borders

In 2021, imec.istart ambitiously crossed the borders, launching its accelerator program in the Netherlands. In collaboration with Novel-T, the driving force behind the Technical University Twente, imec.istart now also offers its services to start-ups in the Netherlands.

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