Danube Energy+ - 7th Newsletter



Dear readers, friends and partners,

We present to your attention the 7th (the last) bulletin on the Danube Energy + project. Here you can find information about the partners’ strategic document for creating sustainability of the project results through the establishment and development of Regional Centres (hubs), as well as brief information about the 2nd International Project Conference organized by the SEE ICT, Serbia and all partners from the consortium.



The Danube Energy+ (DE+) project under the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme 2014-2020 started in the fall of 2018 by a consortium of 9 organizations from Slovakia, Slovenia, Czechia, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania under the leadership of the lead partner EIT InnoEnergy Germany. The project’s goal is to create an enabling environment which will support the key target group – the Young Innovators – in pioneering a change in the energy efficiency field by setting up highly innovative start-ups in the Danube macro-region.

The consortium as well as its goals reflect the socio-economic challenges of the region, as defined by the Danube Transnational Program’s strategy: “The Region has very wide disparities. It has some of the most successful but also the poorest regions in the EU. In particular, contacts and cooperation are often lacking, both financially and institutionally. Enterprises do not sufficiently exploit the international dimension of marketing, innovation or research. The share of highly educated people in the Danube Region is lower than the EU27 average, again with a pronounced divide. The best often leave.“ DE+ project’s main mission has been therefore to overcome these divides by allowing the 9 partners to co-create and learn from each other, while also transferring know-how from the more developed countries to the less developed ones and through the support to young innovators, carriers of potentially revolutionary ideas, the project aims at fostering economic growth and development in the region.

The DE+ Hubs’ strategy is the key future-oriented document, reflecting on the know-how gathered in the years of 2018-2020, where an entrepreneurial education Tool and an Ecosystem support Package were implemented in one round of Pilots in all of the 9 consortium regions. The strategy i

s also the core document outlining how this know-how and mutual learning can be further built upon, developed and transferred both vertically, within the regions and horizontally, to new ones. It informs and guides the consortium regions in developing their custom-made Action Plans with concrete steps leading to the establishment of the Hubs - a physical or virtual entity with the mission to carry on the mission of the Danube Energy+ project to educate, support and connect young innovators in the energy efficiency field, ultimately ensuring sustainability of the projects’ outputs.


Danube Energy + Hubs to become a key factor in Danube region cooperation and synergy by supporting the development and increase the region's competitiveness by:

  • Strengthening the links created in the process of project implementation;
  • To establish the innovative tool "Danube Energy + Tool" as an entrepreneurship training program;
  • Transfer of know-how of the products from the project to other regions and areas.


The Hubs’ impo

rtance for the future of the region is multifaceted. Connector is the main capacity of its mission - a specific mode of connectivity then depends on the region. Hubs’ mission is to be the beacons of Danube-wide cooperation, enabling synergies and cooperation, fast-tracking development in the key areas which will increase competitiveness of the region. The mission of each Hub will be defined as a combination of the goals identified below and together, they will ensure the longevity of Danube Energy+ outputs and results.

  • To strengthen the linkages developed in the project

Partners held regular meetings with the ecosystem actors, business support organizations, academia and research organizations, public authorities and innovative businesses and corporates in the name of the DE+ project. These meetings shaped future collaborations between the consortium partners and other stakeholders. Hub’s mission will be therefore to provide a common ground for meetings, exchanges and collaboration definition after the project’s end. 

  • To establish the tool as an entrepreneurship education reference

The Tool curriculum and the connected support Package represent a concrete blueprint for delivering the entrepreneurship education program. The curriculum is modular, comprehensive and can be adapted to various development stages of the education recipients. With a Pilot run in each region, the entrep

reneurship education element of the DE+ project was the most recognizable activity, as it was associated with a wide scouting and recruiting campaign. It is therefore a “product” around which the Hub can be build and which can be offered on a possible commercial basis.

  • To enable transfer of know-how to new regions and areas

The DE+ implementation was limited to the 9 regions of the Danube area. For some partners, regions were synonymous with the whole country, for others, such as Germany or Ukraine, only a part of the country belonged to the geographical scope. Moreover, even if the “region” did encompass the whole partner country, given the geographical anchorage of the consortium partners, the Pilots were primarily communicated in that area (such as Zagreb, Ljubljana, Pardubice or Bratislava). It is to be noted that virtualization of many DE+ activities due to the Covid-19 opened the program to other locations within the regions, however, a return to in-person events is to be expected within the timeframe of the Hub’s activity. The final component of the Hub’s mission is then to transfer the know-how to other parts of the regions, to enlarge the network of partners geographically and to potentially deliver entrepreneurship education to new audiences. Additionally, the knowledge transfer can be directed to areas outside of the consortium regions.


InnoEnergy, GERMANY

The urgent need for setting up local structures for supporting Young Innovators in the field of energy was the starting shot for AXEL – The Energy Accelerator in Karlsruhe which was founded end of 2017, in parallel to the application of InnoEnergy GmbH to the Interreg DTP project proposal “Danube Energy+”. AXEL is the only start-up accelerator with focus only on energy in Baden-Württemberg. It supports start-up teams in the early stages of their start-up project and thus applies the Danube Energy+ approach and contents already for some years, which made it a perfect partner for the implementation of the Germany Danube Energy+ pilot. As a result, the hub was set up in parallel to the project implementation and when, at the end of the Danube Energy+ project, the hub should have been officially launched, it was already set in place and active. At the same time, during the discussions with the Regional Alliance members and other stakeholders, it became clear, there is still the need for an overarching overview as regards to start-up support measures and for a neutral intermediator who connects needs of start-ups and existing offers, while aiming at providing the best possible support. 

The idea of the Meta Hub was born. The Meta Hub will in the first stage of its existence provide an overview of activities, support measures, offers, organisations etc. that are aiming at supporting Young Innovators and start-ups and consequently enable them to find the right offers for their very own challenges and needs. At a later stage, the Meta Hub will act as neutral intermediator and connect existing support measures and actors in order to increase the innovation capacity in Baden-Wuerttemberg by connecting start-ups and SMEs to launch joint research, development and innovation projects.

On July 6th 2021, InnoEnergy Germany GmbH carried out the Danube Energy+ National Day and Opening Ceremony of the DE+ Hub. Impressive numbers of the Danube Energy+ project’s outcomes were presented as regards to the involvement of Young Innovators and the outreach of the motivational activities of the consortium.

Cleantech Bulgaria, BULGARIA

As a part of innovation ecosystem in Bulgaria and a partner in Danube Energy+ (DE+) project implementation, Cleantech Bulgaria works forward for establishment of and development of the Regional Centre (Hub) Danube Energy + Bulgaria with the following mission:

The Hub to become a well-known partner in the Bulgarian innovation ecosystem and in the region through: (1) strengthening the links established in the process of project implementation at national level and the Danube region and (2) transfer of know-how for Danube Energy + products in the country and other regions.’

The Regional Hub Danube Energy+ is planned as a hybrid type – a part of the current entrepreneurial activities of Cleantech Bulgaria combining with existing other Hub management activities of EIT Climate KIC, EIT Manufacturing, EIT Food and EIT Mobility and will play the following roles:

  • The Regional Hub as the owner of the know-how of the project products
  • The Regional Hub as an organizer of the thematic events, conferences, seminars and talks, connecting participants in the field of energy efficiency, circular economy, tackling climate change and connecting young entrepreneurs with stakeholders and potential ambitious innovators

The official launch of DE+ Hub Bulgaria hook place on July 7th, 2021 in the Business Incubator Building, The Venue, Sofia Tech Park (an associate partner of the project).


The mission of Danube Energy + Hub is to create an optimal environment that will help Young Innovators to become pioneers of change in the energy ecosystem of Serbia, through timely information, education, and networking with professionals from the energy sector.

Danube Energy + Hub Serbia will exist as a physical space. It will be part of the SEE ICT space, which will try to bring together professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators who have a desire to develop in this ecosystem. Also, the Hub will have its own landing page on our SEE ICT site. We will monitor developments in the country and the region and regularly inform community members about events, trends, and innovations that may be important to them in the further development of their ideas. As an organization, we have 8 centres in Serbia, that will offer more decentralizes activities and engagement of Youth in Serbia. The idea is to organize motivational workshops and other events that will be open and that will serve as gathering places, to motivate to change ideas or get inspiration for ideas/solutions for industry challenges to be represented through the Hub. Through very short and intense events (e.g., hackathons and start-up business meeting and similar) we should emphasize the connection of young innovators (hereinafter YIs) with a range of mentors and experts from different fields and encourage joint development. Through the connections we have created so far, we have contacts at universities that study and deal with energy, so we can extend the events we plan to realize through our Hub to students. We will work to raise awareness among students and inspire them for ideas or solutions that can contribute to this sector and the energy ecosystem. During this project, we held the Danube Energy + Pilot project, which proved to be successful. Our wish is to find a partner in the next two years who will enable us to continue with the further implementation of this project.

The official opening ceremony of the Regional Hub took place along the 2nd International Day Conference of the Danube Energy+ project which has been organized by SEE ICT on June 8 2021.


On July 13, 2021, Romanian Tech Startup Association (ROTSA) announced the official opening of the Danube Energy+ Hub Romania. Over the course of the project, via the interaction with partners and via the interaction with local community actors, ROTSA started to have a better understanding of the national tech startup ecosystem, and what it is missing in order to grow. Through this experience, we learned that in order to be affective, an organization has to bring together startups, public administration, other similar actors, and representatives from the private business sector.

Such a role cannot be taken by an organization that does not have as a core value creating connections between actors. Danube Energy+ was a great exercise in relationship building so that we can better understand the needs of each of these actors, see how they overlap and where they are specific for their organization.

Through the ROTSA Digital Hub, we aim to create a connector of all the above-mentioned actors, and act as the organization that comes to fill in the gap where there is something missing. This is where the positioning of the Hub came to be as “Holder of Know-How.” ROTSA plans to achieve and implement this mission, via educational activities, promotion of startups and connection activities as following:

  • Definitions and Data - common definition of key terms, setting up a Pan European data taxonomy, data collection measures, and improved provision of open data by public authorities
  • Talent - Entrepreneurship education for children/youngsters, encouraging university students to start a business, supporting female entrepreneurs
  • Ecosystems - co-creating flagship projects connecting startup ecosystem players to address Europe’s challenges (e.g., climate, mobility), and facilitating cross-border investment.
  • Policy Advising to Member States - tax incentives for growth, ending tax bias favouring debt over equity, better treatment employee stock options (ESOP), implementing a pan-European Startup Visa (“Startup Green Card”), and addressing current weaknesses in corporate law with respect to insolvency and restart (insolvency laws now entangle founders for years, preventing them from moving on to the next business venture).


The key imperative of Civitta was to create a Hub that is complementary to the existing initiatives in the local innovation ecosystem and which will be co-opted and co-created by the ecosystem itself, ensuring its longevity and sustainability. After the initial internal brainstorming, the concept of Innovate Slovakia was created, inspired by the Estonian “Startup Estonia”, which congregates and organizes information and know-how for and about the ecosystem, to communicate both internally, supporting local innovators; and externally, to attract interest from abroad and shape the discourse about the country as an innovation leader.

Key strategic partner – SAPIE (Slovak alliance for Innovative Economy) – attached to the Hub early-on, contributing to the creation of new content and signing up to maintain the Hub in the years to come. The role of the Hub was defined as that of Holder of know-how and that of Connector in the ecosystem. The Hub aims to inspire and, provide educational support to the Young Innovators, and to also showcase the Slovak innovation ecosystem externally, collecting information about the size of investments, success stories or new sectors of focus.

Content and know-how created during the Danube Energy+ project represented the steppingstone for the platform’s content and activities. Networking activities led to creation of partnerships and signing of cooperation agreements. The Package and the Tool curricula were the basis for the Startup guide, with its templates the basics for any aspiring Young Innovator, supported further by easy-to-use legal templates.

The Hub will continue to be governed by Civitta and SAPIE in a joint venture. The content will be refreshed regularly, in addition, new concepts such as Innovation Awards or Startups-to-watch lists will be established as new sub-brands. Several ministries and public bodies have declared their support to the Hub and in the upcoming months financial support will be discussed.


A Virtual HUB for young innovators called "PowerHUB Danube Energy+" was established. by PowerHUB z.ú. (of which E-KLASTR Czech Republic a.s. is a 100% owner) and it is a tool enabling online operation of an innovation, acceleration and education hub in the Pardubice Region with a focus on energy projects and the promotion of sustainable energy sources projects. This virtual HUB will provide for young innovators incubation and acceleration programmes, practical experience of mentors and coaches in starting, managing and investing in companies and adequate education based on the created Danube Energy+ Tool and Danube Energy+ ecosystem Package.​

The aim is to support a wide range of young energy innovators and take them from idea, through incubation and acceleration to securing funding, optimally in multiple investment rounds. To do this, the community of PowerHUB and P-PINK and other regional partners will be used to strengthen the area of start-up development with a focus on energy in the Pardubice Region.


The PowerHUB Danube Energy+ as a main outcome of the project, will be built on a virtual web platform with the main components:

  • Homepage / News
  • Incubation programme - entry/exit conditions, information about services provided, tutoring plan, investment/fundraising opportunities, application form to the programme
  • Acceleration Programme - entry/exit conditions, information on services provided, mentoring, investment/fundraising opportunities, application form to the programme
  • Education - library of Danube Energy+ TOOL and Danube Energy+ Ecosystem Package study materials.

On July 29, 2021, E-KLASTR launched the virtual PowerHUB Danube Energy+. The event was organized as of an online press conference with participation of the representatives of the Regional alliance members, regional partners and the press will be invited.

Invento Capital Partners, CROATIA

INVENTO Innovation HUB was created and will operate with the support of the National Innovation Agency (HAMAG - BICRO) and regional business support organizations: Zagreb Innovation center (ZICER), Center for industrial development (CIRAZ) and Lean Startup Croatia.

With the aim to connect start-ups with investors and to position the importance of establishing cooperation between the public and private sectors we are planning to organize a matchmaking event where participants will be dominated by networking, presentation of innovative solutions, stakeholder discussions to identify cooperation and opportunities for joint innovation projects and investments. Participants will also be able to acquire new knowledge and skills through mentoring in developing a business idea and provided guidelines for further development in the global market. During the event we are planning to present our previous results and cooperation with partners established in purpose to launch INVENTO Innovation HUB activities planned.

The concept of INVENTO Innovation HUB launching event planned for July 6th at ZICER Innovation Centre is presented:

Thematically focus: 1) Innovation development; 2) Matchmaking.

Structure and content: 1) Presentation of funding opportunities (HAMAG-BICRO, ZICER...); 2) Challenges, trends and news in the Industry (representative of the Industry); 3) 5-10 (pitch) Innovative solutions presentation and connection with investors (Demo Day); 4) The Best practice presentation (an example of the path of development of a successful entrepreneur with a public-private investment).

Participants: 1) 30+ start-ups that are looking for the investment and international market placement; 2) Representatives of VC funds, Business Angels networks, and potential investors 3) Public and private sector representatives interested for the innovations development 4) Regional and international partners who are working on business development 5) Media, and other stakeholders of the ecosystem (academia, sectorial associations...).

European Initiatives center, UKRAINE

The Danube Energy Regional hub has been created as a Virtual HUB by European Initiatives center in Ukraine with the support of the Regional Councty Council, the Uzhhorod city hall, the Uzhhorod National University and the Association of Cities, professional institutions and NGOs. The hub will support the young innovators by providing them information, training and. Please also find the link: https://european-center.org.ua/danube_energy_hub/ for more information about the Regional Hub Danube Energy+ in Ukraine.


2nd International Danube Energy+ Day Conference "Innovation ecosystem in the Danube Macro Region" 

On June 8, 2021. from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm, the 2nd International Danube Energy+ (DE+) Day Conference "Innovation ecosystem in the Danube Macro Region" was held online and was broadcast live via YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1q8HcMTpPY ), organized by SEE ICT and Danube Energy + project partners.

DE+ project, funded by the Danube Transnational Cooperation Program 2014-2020, aims to tackle the need for change in regional ecosystems to support Young Innovators in transforming their disruptive ideas in the energy sector into ventures. The project allows the 9 partners from the Danube macro region (Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania) to co-create and learn from each other to support the young innovators, carriers of potentially revolutionary ideas to foster economic growth and development in the region. The results, lessons learned

Tamara Högler, the representative of the German lead partner of the DE + project opened the event which gathered together more than 180 young innovators, entrepreneurs, innovation ecosystem experts, and stakeholders which presented and discussed the achievements of the project to support Young Innovators, the challenges, the mutual learning, lessons learned and the vision for creating sustainability of the partnership project results as following:

  • Danube Energy+ ecosystem Package, an innovative learning system for key regional ecosystem actors, including two main elements – (1) best practices, models and experience in identification and motivation of individual Young Innovators in regional ecosystems and their connection to ecosystem actors, and (2) developed Danube Energy+ Tool as a pre-acceleration learning scheme for Young Innovators.
  • Implementation of the Pilot Tool carried out in the 9 partner countries. 66 project ideas were selected and boosted up in the fields of environment (19), energy efficiency (13), circular economy (9), renewable energy (4), cleaner electricity (3), transport and energy (2) and other related fields.
  • Regional Danube Energy+ Hubs establishment and sustaining. The Regional Hubs will launch in July 2021 and will continue to work in a network to support the development of young innovators from the Danube macro region.

The young innovators from partners’ countries presented their disruptive ideas, business development and achievements after finishing the pre-acceleration programme, and discussed the start-ups’ role in the digital economy with the representatives of the innovation ecosystem.

Johan Söderbom, InnoEnergy’s leader of the thematic field Energy Storage, Germany presented the European battery alliance (EBA250), connecting over 650 stakeholders along the entire value chain and the importance of achieving the European goals of a clean environment.

The representatives of regional stakeholders Oana Buzatu, Cluj City Hall, Romania and Bobovnicky Artur, Slovak Republic Innovation and Energy Agency, Slovak presented the policy for innovation ecosystem development.

Amir Kalajdzin, National Contact Point, Germany for Interreg Danube Programme presented the future support measures for startups for the period 2021-2027 during the 2nd International Danube Energy + Day Conference "Innovation ecosystem in the Danube Macro Region".

During the conference were presented and discussed the results, challenges and lessons learned from the project in support of young innovators to transform their innovative ideas into real business.

66 business technology and product ideas of young innovators were supported by participation in a pre-accelerator program, of which 19 are in the environment, 13 in the energy efficiency sector, 9 in the circular economy, 2 in transport and energy and other related areas. The intentions of the industry and business in these countries, which are increasingly looking for new solutions to meet the needs of the new time, are also promising.

The project partners will create 9 regional hubs to support entrepreneurs from the Danube region, through which they will continue to support the development of innovative ideas and entrepreneurial initiatives in the future.

You can get acquainted with the challenges, lessons learned and the results of the project by watching the video at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLKGbp2w4cc


Managing Authority | Joint Secretariat
Széchenyi István tér 7-8 - 1051 Budapest, Hungary
E-mail: danube@interreg-danube.eu  | Web: www.interreg-danube.eu


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Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)