Creation of a leading non-equity startup accelerator

The background:

Our mission at CIVITTA Innovation is to be the catalyst for new economies, helping ambitious founders build and scale their businesses. CEE region lacked a high-quality, non-equity startup accelerator program that would be both scalable and open to startups from across the region. 

We knew that demand was there and took the initiative to fulfill it.

The essence of the project:

Our solution was to design a flagship startup accelerator program powered by CIVITTA that could be deployed in any European country and across various industry verticals. We created the Challenger Accelerator to rival the best accelerators globally.

Our focus was on assisting startups in finding customers, gaining traction, and raising funding. Additionally, we help corporations identify technologies and startups for meaningful collaborations.

Ultimately, we aim to foster a more supportive environment in the CEE region for ambitious entrepreneurs, positioning them as new driving forces in the economy.

We run 4+ batches of the Challenger Accelerator each year, focusing on areas such as AI/ML, urban innovation, sustainability, and diversity, and we help more than 40 startups on their journey to global success.

What has been done?

  • Organizing three-month-long Challenger programs for 8 to 12 startups.
  • Providing individual and group mentoring and coaching to startups on various topics, including product-market fit, investment fundraising, product development, positioning, and business models.
  • Organizing pitch events for startups on the final Demo Day, which can be either an offline or hybrid event, capturing the attention of international VCs, corporations, and media.


To date, we have accelerated over 100 early-stage startups and 15 teams through the Challenger programs. Each program has provided more than 120 hours of mentoring and coaching. 

We have also organized over 60 hours of workshops and various networking events with investors and potential customers during each program.


“The Challenger accelerator opened the door for me to a new perspective on business and building a startup with a lot of top mentors and workshops.”

Adam Bartos, CEO, SIAT


“Challenger provided us with relevant and extremely practical workshops, which helped us to clarify our business model. They also trained us to have a clear and attractive pitch. Thanks to them, we received an investment in a few weeks after finishing the program.”

Jakub Lajmon, co-founder, Groundcom


“Thanks to the Challenger accelerator, we were forced to focus fully on profiling our product, in a very stimulating environment and under the guidance of excellent mentors. We recommend this experience, it brought us a few missing elements when thinking about our business.”

Peter Veres, co-founder, Makers


“Having worked at Amazon and completed numerous accelerators, I can confidently say that Challenger AI is truly outstanding. Unlike other accelerator programs that follow a one-size-fits-all approach, Challenger AI understands that each startup has its own unique challenges, developmental stages, and background.”

Romit Choudhury, co-founder of Softbrik


“If you’re looking for ways to improve your hard and soft skills, this program is perfect for you. We had great discussions with venture funds and various programs, and Challenger AI helped us secure a spot in the NVIDIA Inception program. We highly recommend joining the next Challenger AI cohort!”

Daniil Lubkin, co-founder of Beholder.Earth


Peter Kolesár

Partner, Bratislava, Slovakia