Europe’s largest startup accelerator Startupbootcamp have announced the opening of its Istanbul program with an eventual purpose of expanding to the Middle East and North African markets. The accelerator aims to use Istanbul office as a regional launchpad for startups in MENA.
Istanbul program has now started to accept applications from Turkey and MENA countries, with a deadline of March 31st. Up to 10 startups will be selected to join the 3-month program which is scheduled to start on 2nd of June. The startups coming from outside of Turkey will have to relocate in Istanbul in order to follow the program.
Accepted startups will receive a financial support of €15,000 each, an office space for 4 months and a range of mentorship and sponsorship services, all in exchange for 8% of equity in the startup. Open pitch days are scheduled to take place on February 10, March 3 and 17.
The program team is led by Ersin Pamuksuzer, a pioneer in Istanbul’s incubation scene, and Omer Yucel, the director of corporate relations in Bahcesehir University which hosts the program. Another core partner in the program is the Basaksehir Living Lab, the first Enoll (European Network of Living Labs) accredited Living Lab in Turkey. Istanbul team also cooperates with Dr. Abdul Malik El Jaber- who created two different startup programs in MENA.
Although Startupbootcamp’s current programs in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Denmark and Israel are principally open to startups around the world, what makes Istanbul office different is much clearer assignment to a vast, and equally underserved, region. It’s not only Istanbul’s rising popularity among investors, but also its bridge-like status between regions and cultures.
“Istanbul has always been an important gateway between east and west” said Mr. Pamuksuzer, citing Turkey’s location in respect to Europe and the MENA region, and its relaxed visa rules. He said many multinationals currently use Istanbul as a base for the surrounding regions and they expect many startups to do the same.