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StartUp Europe Awards recognizes the best 5 startups in a special edition focused on social impact

  • The awards ceremony was chaired by the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabrieltogether with the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Emil Boc and the Minister of Communication and Information Society of Romania, Alexandru Petrescu.
  • StartUp Europe Awards is an initiative of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative and the Finnova Foundation.
  • OKRA Technologies, Bolt, NorthQ, Kidibot and Mama Organa have been awarded as the best startups in the 5 different categories focused on social impact.
  • The ceremony was celebrated in the frame of the Startup Europe Summit 2019, organized this year by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Unionas part of the Presidency programme in Cluj-Napoca.

Cluj-Napoca, 21 March 2019. StartUp Europe Awards, an open innovation initiative of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative and the Finnova Foundation, recognizes the best startups in 5 categories focused on social impact. The ceremony was chaired by the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, together with the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Emil Boc and the Minister of Communication and Information Society of Romania, Alexandru Petrescu.


“Start-ups are essential for the future of Europe’s economy, its technological leadership and its capacity to deliver a human-centred and sustainable development. Four months after the Sofia Summit, we are together again to further strengthen the European network of start-ups, investors and policy makers and to foster cooperation across the whole continent, including in the Western Balkans. I am looking forward to inspiring discussions and would be happy to steer tangible solutions regarding the many challenges they fase”, states Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

The ceremony of StartUp Europe Awards Special Edition was celebrated in the frame of the Startup Europe Summit 2019, organized this year by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union as part of the Presidency programme in Cluj-Napoca.


“Hosting such an event in the heart of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca offers us the opportunity to celebrate the boldness and innovation of the brightest minds in Europe. The future belongs to those who can see that talents are the resource for a better society. Nurturing them and offering opportunities to test and try their ideas is the way go towards the Europe of tomorrow, where courage and curiosity are used to do good, and to become better”, declares Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca.

“Great to host under the Romanian Digital Presidency of the EU Council the StartUp Europe Awards Special Edition in Cluj-Napoca, a place that’s been gaining european recognition for encouraging  young entrepreneurs, innovative ideas, adoption of new technologies in a manner that has been proven beneficial not just for Romanians but for all European citizens and SMEs”, states Alexandru Petrescu, Minister of Communication and Information Society of Romania.

The most outstanding startups from the EU and neighbouring countries have been chosen out of 70 applicants through an open call for a special edition focused on social impact.  The honored startups are: OKRA Technologies (Female-led startup) from UK; Bolt (Founder under 30 startup) from Estonia; NorthQ (UN Sustainable Development Goals startup) from Denmark; Kidibot (Social inclusion startup) from Romania; and Mama Organa (Job growth startup) from North Macedonia.  Winning startups have been promoting their projects and approach customers and potential investors during the summit in a dedicated exposition space.


StartUp Europe Awards proposes a methodology of open innovation through the public – private partnership, “that works for the public entities to find a solution for its local challenges and for the startups to try its innovations in pilots supported with European funding, generating social impact for the benefit of the citizens”, declares Juanma Revuelta, Finnova Foundation CEO.

In total, 70 startups from Poland, Romania, Estonia, Cyprus, Ireland, Greece, North Macedonia, Italy, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Spain, UK, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium, have opted for one of the 5 prizes.

All the winners of StartUp Europe Awards will obtain great visibility all around Europe thanks to the Media Partner Alliance of StartUp Europe Awards formed by 25 media partners from several countries in Europe (Spain, France, Belgium, Latvia, Luxembourg, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark).

The startups will also have access to specialized orientation in EU opportunities (in internationalization, European funds like SMEs Instrument of 50.000 € to 2,5 million € of non-refundable subsidy per project, international communication, etc.), through the StartUp Europe Accelerator by Finnova Foundation, which will allow them to boost their projects and to make them more viable worldwide.

StartUp Europe Accelerator is the unique accelerator specialized in European opportunities funding, which helps the entrepreneurs internationalize their business through European projects.


20 members of the European Parliament have come together in the StartUp Europe Awards as ambassadors, supporting the local events with their presence and following closely the progress of the startups.

The next general edition of StartUp Europe Awards will be launched in April 2019.

The Startup Europe Summit 2019 gathered 600 leaders from the European entrepreneurial ecosystem ranging from investors, CEOs, accelerators to European and local authorities and tech journalists in Cluj-Napoca.

“Romanian ICT sector has been delivering performance for years, constantly improving academia, offering better fiscal facility, attractive business environment, having a significant contribution to the European Union effort to achieve a higher competitiveness at the global stage”, concludes Minister Alexandru Petrescu.



About StartUp Europe Awards

StartUp Europe Awards of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative and Finnova is an open innovation methodology that encourages collaboration between the public sector and businesses in the promotion of innovative initiatives. Its aim is to help create alliances that allow entities and support programmes for entrepreneurs to be added to local partners and to be a communication tool for society.

StartUp Europe Awards is also supported by the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Committee of the Regions, the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Committee and several members from the European Parliament. StartUp Europe Awards is sponsored by StartUp Europe Accelerator

SEUA serves as a communication tool for society, encouraging collaboration between the public and business sectors and promoting innovative initiatives. Its aim is to promote the creation of alliances enabling in every region concerned to gather entities and the support programmes for entrepreneurs with local and international partners.


For more information:


Press contact:

Catalina Valencia




Best Social Inclusion Startup


Kidibot (Romania)

CEO: Alina Ferseta


Kidibot is an educational online platform for 6-18 years old, designed to motivate them to read and learn more, using fun, positive social pressure, contests with prizes, cognitive dissonance, local patriotism and many others.


Best Female-led Startup


OKRA Technologies (United Kingdom)

CEO: Loubna Bouarfa


OKRA is an AI analytics company for healthcare providing an online platform that allows healthcare professionals to combine all their data in one place and generate evidence-based insight in real time – including predictions of the future – to save and improve human lives.


Best Founder under 30 Startup


Bolt (formerly Taxify) (Estonia)

CEO and Cofounder: Markus Villig

Receive the award his brother and cofounder Martin Villig


Bolt (formerly Taxify) is a transportation platform from Estonia, which has become one of the leading ridehailing platforms in Europe and Africa in five years. They are focused on making urban travel easier, quicker and more reliable.


 Best UN Social Development Goals Startup


NorthQ (Denmark)

CEO: Christian von Scholten


Empowering consumer-led energy efficiency through intelligent data management. The one-stop IoT Platform transforms and enriches data from energy usage into complex analysis enabling operational and resource savings. Machine learning and AI continues to reinvent energy management.


Best Job Growth Startup


Production of organic fertilizers Mama Organa (North Macedonia)

CEO: Natalija Burgieva


Mama Organa is a company formed to collect food waste and by adding value to it, to produce organic fertilizers in order to help farmers in growing healthy and clean food. They also provide jobs for socially excluded single mothers.

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