Launched in September 2013 to address low levels of internationalisation among European ICT startups and SMEs, the ACE acceleration programme networks leading incubators, accelerators, clusters and living labs throughout Europe, who committed to pooling their knowledge and expertise and opening up their existing facilities and support services to each other’s local companies. By building on and connecting to these existing internationalisation support services, the ACE programme has delivered new value-added support to more than 125 high potential ICT startups and SMEs from 18 European countries to accelerate their international growth.
2015 saw a new open call for candidates, a second edition of the ACE International Cooperation Summit (organised this time in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Congress), the first ACE Awards at the EBN Congress and a 92% endorsement rate of the ACE programme by participating startups and SMEs.
November 2015 marked the end of the ACE project but the acceleration activities initiated over the preceding 27 months’ will be continued in 2016 by the EBN Internationalisation Special Interest Group. This internationalisation network is open and actively seeking new members committed to supporting companies to grow internationally. The lessons learned in ACE have also been distilled into a set of concrete recommendations in the form of a Guidebook intended to serve as a reference point for business support organisations who share ACE’s mission to accelerate the early-stage internationalisation of SMEs. This Guidebook will be available on the ACE website early in the new year.