The imec.istart business acceleration program supports entrepreneurs with the early development of their tech start-ups during minimum 12 months.  During this period we want to assess the feasibility of a business proof-of-concept, prepare the (commercial) launch of the first product(s) and the establishment of a start-up to drive this commercialization.

Selected start-ups will get access to:

  • 12 months of tailored and interactive coaching and workshops
  • 50,000 EUR as pre-seed funding and financial road mapping
  • Access to imec technology, services and expertise
  • Feedback from mentors/advisors and potential investors
  • Support to find seed funding opportunities
  • Housing facilities in multiple cities (Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Hasselt, Leuven, Genk,...)
  • Community network of over 198 start-ups
  • ....


The program focuses on start-up projects with a certain technological inventiveness (though broadly interpreted) and with the potential and ambition to become a 'born global' company.

Even though a minimal support towards further technology development can be given as well, the main focus lies on business development (developing, validating and implementing a business plan, clarifying the intellectual property situation, market analysis, customer contacts through fairs, marketing and sales activities …).

Eligible projects are not necessarily limited to subjects related to the imec research domains. But, in order to be eligible, some form of proof-of-concept or prototype of the core product/technology is a necessity. At the time of submission, your start-up does not need to be established yet. However, if you are selected, we expect you to establish a legal entity.

The imec.istart manual includes all details on the program, the conditions that apply (e.g. for the imec.istart support, imec received 6% of the equity in your start-ups), the support offered by imec.istart and e.g. the evaluation criteria. Each application will be reviewed by imec and its imec.istart fund partners.

Imec.istart offers market specific industry verticals with extra mentoring & funding in the following domains. You can optionally apply for these verticals:

  • Health
  • Media, Telecom & Entertainment
  • Learn & HRTech
  • SportsTech
  • Fintech, Insurtech & Cybersecurity
  • Industry 4.0, Logistics & Transport
  • Utilities, CleanTech & Smart Buildings
  • Agri & FoodTech (coming soon)

Read more

Imec.istart secured the 1st place in the European 'Top University Business Accelerators' ranking by UBI Global, in 2019, and the 4th place in its global ranking, after a screening of more than 500 acceleration programs from all over the world.  

"The final purpose of imec.istart is to help develop a business idea up to the point where it is ready to attract financial support in the market, and to continue developing independently." Sven De Cleyn - imec.istart Program Manager

Important dates

If you submit your project proposal, please mark the following dates:

  • 1 September 2020: Call open
  • 1 October 2020: Call closes (11.59pm)
  • 13 October 2020: First selection by imec.istart
  • 20- 21 October 2020: Intake meetings with pre-selected projects - Please save these dates!
  • 22 October 2020: Announcement of selected projects
  • 27 October 2020: Onboarding day for the selected projects
  • 12 & 13 November 2020: Kick-off days for the selected projects


Please leave your email address if you want to be informed when the call is open.

Need more details?

If you need more details about imec.istart & the application process, download the imec.istart manual here.

Get in touch with us

Are you interested in applying for imec.istart but still have some questions? Send an email to and we will be happy to answers your questions and provide you all the required information.

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