10+1 questions about CEU iLab

Do you have a startup idea and considering taking it to the next level? CEU's startup acceleration program CEU iLab may be a good choice. Starting a startup is a super exciting journey, but there are many ups and downs as well. Thus, having a mentor and being in a supportive environment can help to overcome difficulties. And even if there are no ready answers, a community whose members are in similar shoes can be such great support for the founders. Understandably, finding the most suitable acceleration program for you and your team is not a piece of cake. To facilitate your decision, we have collected the most frequently asked questions about CEU iLab. We tried to cover all the necessary details about the acceleration program, but if you want to have a chat with us, do not hesitate and find us at the iLab!

1. Why choose iLab?


CEU iLab is a unique startup acceleration program that combines curricular market needs with academic synergies. CEU is one of the most international universities in the world, with students coming from 144 different countries. CEU campus is in Vienna, Austria, the CEU InnovationsLab is based in Budapest, Hungary with a smaller on-campus operation in Vienna and CEU has a presence in the US too. CEU has a global alumni network, with alumni chapters in 35 locations Worldwide.

Participants in the program can audit  selected CEU courses and work closely with university students through our internship program and so-called 'Capstone' projects. In this way, teams can directly receive (for instance) legal, financial, or data analytical support from professionals who may also be motivated to help them realize the startup idea.Our lead- and skill mentors come from diverse professional background, are practicing entrepreneurs themselves or senior corporate executives. The startups have free access to the CEU iLab coworking office in Budapest and Vienna.


2. Are there any costs of the program?


iLab’s six-month program is free of charge. Upon completion of the program, iLab has the right to claim an optional 1.5% equity share.


3. Does iLab startups have access to investments?


CEU iLab does not invest in startups. The investment readiness of a company depends on several factors: is there a professional team behind? Have they validated their idea? Do they have adequate answers to the questions raised during validation? Do they have a business and financial plan? 

We support all our investment-ready teams on the fundraising  journey, with the help of our lead- and skill mentors and with their investment experience. Through our wide range of partnerships, we help team investment ready startups to  get the opportunity to pitch and present their startup idea as well.


4. Can I apply on my own?


Our experience shows that running a startup is not a one-man show. The more diverse a team is, the more different skills, knowledge, and interests that come together in a team, the greater the chance of success. We recommend that even if you are alone, at the very least, you should find another partner with whom you can share the vision to build a startup.

Brainstorming session with team Onres

5. Can I attend the acceleration program online?


Of course, in the current situation, we can't make it compulsory for anyone to attend in person, but we see that teams who can attend the program's courses offline do better. The iLab is also a community, where one-to-one encounters lead not only to opportunities but also to success stories and friendships. We encourage everyone to get involved in person.The more you engage, the more you can benefit from the iLab network.


6. I have a full-time job. Can I still apply?


In short: yes. Many teams have members with full-time jobs, which is not an uncommon phenomenon for an early-stage or idea-stage startup. You need to see and decide what fits into your days - we'll give you all the support you need to make the most of your time here. But we expect that at least one team member works on the project full time. 

7. What kind of startups are you looking for?


We are industry agnostic, that is we don't specialize in a specific industry. We are looking for founders who are dedicated to their project, who have a project that appeals to a great number of people, and whose project idea is based on unique customer insight. We expect that applicants familiarize themselves with CEU InnovationsLab before applying, ideally they have attended our public events or talked to an iLab alumni before applying. It will help to manage your expectations and make the most out of our program. 


8. What does the recruitment process look like?


The application consists of two parts, one short and one longer. First, you must fill in and submit the application form on our website, indicating your interest in participating in the iLab program. 

After that, we will send you a confirmation email to the email address you provided on the application form, giving you details about the second step of the application process.

The second part of the application will be done in a system called Metabeta, where we will ask you for more detailed information (compared to the application form). Here you will be asked to briefly introduce the other members of your team, as well as upload the pitch deck of your startup idea and a short video demonstrating it. (The video can also be a one-minute introduction recorded with a smartphone.)

After you have completed the Metabeta and uploaded all materials, iLab's management team will review all applicants' materials, evaluate them according to a uniform set of criteria and shortlist them. 

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview, after which a final decision will be made on whether the team has been accepted into the acceleration program.

9. What happens at the interview, and how to prepare?

The interview is attended by members of iLab management and takes place online. During the interview, which lasts about 20 minutes, you will be asked to introduce yourself and your team, what is your level of motivation, and what's your background, etc. And of course, you can raise your questions too :)

CEU iLab coworking space at CEU Budapest campus


10. What are the deadlines for Spring Cohort 2022 application?


Be sure to mark these dates on your calendar: 

23 January: application deadline - submit your application on ilab.ceu.edu

28 January: submit the application on the Metabeta system (upload pitch deck and video)

between 1-3 February: interviews (online)

3 February (by end of the day): notification about the decision 

between 9-11 February: three-day-long onboarding session (from 9 am to 4 pm, in person at CEU campus)


+1  iLab program used to be a 1-year long program. Why is it now only six months long?


Like our startups, we are a learning organization too. Our experience is that intensive, tailor-made mentoring becomes less effective beyond 6 months. Dedicated founders are able to demonstrate the viability of their project in 6 months. In 6 months strong teams become equipped with what they need to take the project to the next level. (Good to know that extension is possible in the case of highly dedicated and promising teams.)

Apply now to CEU iLab's Acceleration Program!

Startup Safari Giveaway!
If you want to get even more immersed in the Hungarian startup ecosystem, visit this year's Startup Safari on 28 and 29 April. And the extra good news is that thanks the cooperation between CEU iLAB and Startup Safari, you can now win a ticket to the two-day startup must-see.
All you have to do is send an email to ilab@ceu.edu telling us where you found the 'Startup Safari Giveaway' post (practically an email with the link to this page) and if you're one of the first 10 people to find it, we'll send you the details for your free ticket. Good luck!


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