Lots of interesting things are happening right now in Hungary. It’s a little weird. Take Uber. On one hand the government actively worked to close Uber operation in Hungary and seems like they prefer the old style of business. After Uber shut down, the market blew wide open for Taxify, the Estonian Uber competitor who operates licensed cabs only. It’s stuff like that that defines the Hungarian market.
At the same time the government is trying to boost the investment market. The so called JEREMIE Funds (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) that dominated the local investment market closed this year. Private money VCs still only take a small fraction of the market. So folks looking for investment have to be clever. Soon they’ll have a much better chance at getting investment.
There are eight new partially EU-funded accelerator programs across Hungary, each given $3 million to grow innovation. The first corporate accelerator program in the region, Telenor Accelerate, lunched this summer. A new government-backed VC will set up early 2017 what could invest $38 million in seed stage and $150 million in venture stage investments.
There are lots of startup programs running in the country. The engine of these programs is the Mosaik coworking office where Csongor Biás works. There are many community events and meetups like Product Tank and
Startup Campus. In fact, Startup Campus is an ongoing incubation program for idea stage startups coming from universities and aims to help in the early startup stages.
Lots of really cool tech is being build. Last weekend we had our first Brain-Computer Interface Hackathon. There is a great initiative called Bridge Budapest founded by successful Hungarian Entrepreneurs from LogMeIn, Ustream, Prezi and NNG. They provide fellowships to talented people and made a series of detailed startup questions to help newcomers.
I’d also like to highlight two competitions from the region. The Central European Startup Awards are collecting the best teams and people from the regional ecosystem to find the best ones. Get in the Ring! Budapest is organizing a regional competition where teams from 13 countries can apply. The jury members include Max Kelly from Techstars, Cristobal Alonso from Startup Wise Guys, and Markus Lang from Pioneers.
We are building and growing in Budapest. It’s not quite the Valley but we like it and we think things are getting better.