“When evaluating, we follow a strict scoring process, strict guidelines, we evaluate the professional background, context, reputation and I can say that there are many good projects in each call. Unfortunately, there are not enough funds to support everyone. We evaluate individually, and later we combine the points, we discuss the projects, they are all independent persons and I am sure that our grades will pass the supervision” – said Marvin Liao, president of the Investment Approval Committee (CAI), explaining the process by which companies’ financing decisions were made in the “Startup 3” public call.
Answering journalists’ questions at today’s press conference organized by FITD, Liao added: “Innovation is not just about technology, it should help solve problems. I want to talk about the process itself, not each project individually.”
Gunther Fellinger, who is one of the members of CAI, explained that in times of crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to support companies in the country, not only digital but also companies engaged in agriculture, metal processing industry and others. “In times of crisis, it is especially important to support all of these companies to ensure that they will survive in the marketplace and that they will continue to grow and develop. This is exactly how I see our role here.”
Fellinger added that the principle of decision-making is also important. “In this process, it is very important to take into account the possibility of technological development, economic impact and job creation. We get fantastic innovation projects, but their impact, whether they create new jobs in the country, the export potential and all that, is very significant, it is taken into account and it is in the focus of the evaluation.”
At the press conference, the director of FITD, Kosta Petrov, reminded that the analysis shows that the biggest effect of the Fund’s support have startups, i.e. startups one year before funding and two years after funding have a growth of over 197%.
In addition to Liao and Fellinger, the Committee is overseen by international experts Vibhu Sharma, Noel Gregor Paterson-Jones and Asher Siddiqui.
CAI’s president Marvin Liao is a former CEO at Yahoo! for more than a decade. He is a former partner of 500 Startups and Business Angel with over 19 years of experience in venture capital, technology businesses and startups. Marvin has invested in 500 startups since 2014. Asher Siddiqui has over 20 years of experience in corporate development, with realized deals worth about 8 billion US dollars. He was also part of the “500 Startups” in the United States, but also part of the management team that led the transformation of “Etisalat” in the UAE. Asher Siddiqui began his career as an entrepreneur in Britain and the United States in the late 1990s. The third member of CAI, Gunther Fellinger is the Secretary-General of CEE BC – Austria. For the past 28 years, Gunther has travelled and contributed to the transformation of the business sector in Central and Eastern Europe and is well acquainted with the economies and challenges of young entrepreneurs and new businesses in the region. Dr Vibhu Sharma is an experienced business innovation strategist. He has many years of experience in innovation, launching new products, holds several patents and is the author of Springer, New York. Patterson-Jones is a member of the Advisory Board of the Coalition for Green Capital, which is a collection of sovereign international green banks, an international member of the European Strategic Fund for Investment (ESFI), a special adviser to the World Bank for the Uganda Bond Program, as well as the Kenyan Pension Fund.