Birdhouse, Belgian Start-Up Accelerator, Kicks Off Its 10th Cohort

Belgian Start-up accelerator Birdhouse selects 11 promising start-ups and launches one of the first Aging accelerator programs in Europe

Brussels, Belgium, November 10, 2021 --( Birdhouse today welcomed 11 new start-ups operating in various industries across the world. The accelerator attracted around 500 start-up applications for this cohort. Above 15% came from outside of Belgium, which is an important milestone for Birdhouse. Birdhouse has the ambition to launch several vertical-specific accelerator programs, making them accessible for international start-ups. Jan-Willem Callebaut, the CEO of Birdhouse: “Our selection and application period for our 10th Cohort was definitely a success. For the first time, we have been able to reach start-ups in all kinds of countries in Europe and even several US-based start-ups have applied. This confirms that we are on the right track with our strategy to have a deeper focus on specific vertical programs, of which the Aging & Longevity program is our first.”

Birdhouse launched communications about its Aging & Longevity accelerator program, one of the first in the European Union, in August 2021, in addition to its existing general accelerator program targeted to Belgian start-ups.

According to research*, government institutions, businesses, research & development centers, and start-ups are more and more dedicating themselves to managing the economic and social challenges as the proportion of retired people in the global population is expected to grow in the next decade. According to several longevity experts, among which Keren Etkin (TheGerontechnologist, Israel) and Dominic Endicott (4GenVentures), the 50+ economy (a 17 Trillion dollar economy worldwide) lays a very large foundation for start-ups to innovate and disrupt. This economy provides even a larger market opportunity when compared to the Financial services economy, which lays the foundation for FinTech start-ups.

Therefore, Birdhouse made a strategic choice to tap into this opportunity and supports Aging & Longevity start-ups internationally with the new program. Birdhouse expanded its network with over 25 experts in Aging & Longevity (in addition to its 100 mentors & advisors in other verticals). Thanks to this new program, start-ups can set up a go-to-market pilot (in partnership with elderly care homes), they can test their assumptions with over 6000 people from their target audience (in collaboration with Bureau50).

The new program attracted several Aging & Longevity start-ups across the world in a short period. The company received over 70 applications, of which 30% were international. Start-up sub-industries varied from AgeTech to Mobility, Wellness & Fitness, Mental Health, InsurTech, and FemTech. The Aging & Longevity start-ups proved why the market had certain opportunities and how their service & products met the needs of the elderly. 20 start-ups out of 70 were invited to pitch their innovative business models to the Birdhouse Jury in October 2021. After careful consideration, 3 Aging & Longevity start-ups were selected for the new program.

Birdhouse received more than 400 applications across Europe for its general program. Over 50 novel and disruptive start-ups presented their businesses at the Jury panel. The panel took for a week, and 11 start-ups were selected after rigorous deliberation. Birdhouse aims to maintain the quality of the start-ups for both the Aging & Longevity and General Accelerator Program and extend its international presence even further in 2022.

The success of the selection of the 10th Cohort of Birdhouse was not only due to the new accelerator program and international scope but also due to revising its financial partnership structure with Belfius. Belfius finances the program for the start-ups by a convertible loan, which converts to capital with a discount in the next capital round. In the past, the program was offered in exchange for a fixed amount of 3% of a start-up’s equity. This change provides start-ups repaying the loan with equity at a later time, providing the opportunity to give equity at a lower rate.

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* Longevity Landscape Overview Q4, 2021
Hakki Ahsen Akkas