The Belgian accelerator Birdhouse guides starters who respond to the longer life trend. It appears that foreign players in this sector are on average further ahead than Belgian ones.
The accelerator provides advice and financial support to start-ups. Birdhouse has been active for six years and, in addition to a general guidance program, also has a specialized trajectory for starters who respond to the longer life trend. Five international start-ups will be discussed in the age tech sector. “We are the first in Europe to offer an age tech accelerator program on an international scale,” said Birdhouse founder and CEO Jan-Willem Callebaut.
We are the first in Europe to offer an age tech accelerator program on an international scale.
In the past six years, Birdhouse received 5,355 registrations from start-ups from the most diverse sectors for the general program. 126 companies conquered a place in the program. ‘At least 110 companies, 87 percent of our alumni, are still active. Together they already employ more than 800 full-time equivalents’, explains Callebaut.
26 of those companies had a turnover of more than 1 million euros in 2021. Some successful examples are Kadonation, a platform that makes it easy to buy a gift together, the beer specialists of Beerselect, the driver service Get Driven and the neighborhood network Hoplr.
- The Birdhouse accelerator guides start-ups to a higher level.
- In addition to a general program, there is also specialized guidance for age tech, for companies that respond to the longer life trend.
- Five starters were selected. It turned out that foreign companies are further ahead than Belgian ones.
Birdhouse prides itself on its tailor-made support for start-ups. In doing so, it deploys a network of more than 150 mentors and advisors. For the specialized program Aging & Longevity, the accelerator works with more than 25 mentors and advisors in Europe. Partners are the Christian health insurance company CM and the healthcare organization Helan. Birdhouse received more than 150 registrations from start-ups, 90 of which are located abroad.
Five foreign companies were selected for the new cohort that started at the beginning of April. These start-ups are located in Barcelona, Bilbao, Milan, Lisbon and Paris. The activities vary widely. The Portuguese Virtualleap does brain training. With a virtual reality headset and games designed by neuroscientists, cognitive skills are tested and trained. The Spanish Kuvu is a marketplace where elderly people living alone can rent out an empty room to students and young people who are starting a professional life.
‘We noticed in the selection that the international companies active in age tech were on average much further ahead than the Belgian ones. This also means that they have different challenges and needs. Internationalization in Europe and towards the US is high on their agenda’, says Callebaut. ‘Most of the selected companies intend to open a branch in Brussels or Flanders as a base to the north of Europe.’
Internationalization in Europe and towards the US is high on the agenda for foreign starters in age tech.
Since the previous cohort, Birdhouse adjusted the conditions for joining the accelerator program. Instead of a fixed percentage shareholding in the start-up, Birdhouse now asks for a variable number of shares, depending on the valuation of the company in the next capital round. The program is still financed by Belfius Insurance, but now in the form of a loan that can be converted into shares with a discount on the valuation in the next capital round.