Katapult: A Norwegian Accelerator with Global Impact

Scaling startups focused on solving global problems
Katapult Startup Accelerator Program
Publ. date 11 jun 2018
The Oslo-based Katapult is not just any startup accelerator program. While the likes of Y Combinator, TechStars and Seedcamp have pioneered the acceleration landscape through funding hundreds of small businesses that in some cases have grown into big names themselves, this Norwegian program is a for-profit accelerator that is uniquely focused on creating positive societal impact.

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“Once people see that when you invest in society and the environment you earn money, then the barrier to begin to impact invest will become even lower,” Katapult chairman Anders H. Lier comments in a recent interview. In order to be selected for the Katapult accelerator, startups must be early-stage and use exponential technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning or virtual reality to solve a social or environmental challenge in one or more of the 12 pre-defined impact domains, ranging from climate change, energy and health to education, equality, mobility and even space.

In return for a commitment to spend three months in Oslo to go through an intensive program, the selected startups receive up to $150K investment, get access to a global network of 120+ thematic mentors and investors, and hands-on support from the Katapult Accelerator team to help build their business. Haakon Brunell, the program’s Managing Partner and Co-Founder comments: “The Katapult Accelerator is a fast-paced and hands-on program to help build and scale startups that can solve environmental or societal challenges through exponential technologies. Our goal for each company is to prepare them for their next round of investment so that they achieve two to three times their original valuation.”

To date, Katapult has had two cohorts and a total of 23 startups have ‘graduated’ from the startups. The results are promising. According to Katapult’s data, from the first batch, 4 of the 12 companies have either closed or are over-subscribed on their next funding round. Additionally, 10 of the 12 companies have received offers for further funding post-accelerator.

Working from Norway to solve global challenges

While the accelerator is physically based in Oslo, the scope of its program is undeniably global. Mentors are coming from Norwegian companies such as DNB, Kahoot! and Bakken & Bæck, but also big international players like Innogy, Amazon, and IBM. For the second batch of the program that started in February 2018, twelve startups were selected from a pool of 1,500 applications.

These companies were not only culturally diverse, with founders from and operations in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore, USA, Spain, UK, Turkey, South Korea, Morocco, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, but also in terms of gender: 50% of the selected startups had female founders. Let’s take a look at what challenges some of the selected startups are tackling:

  • NeedsList is a global marketplace connecting donors, NGOs, and suppliers to efficiently meet the urgent needs of refugees.
  • Deligate combats food waste with an effective routine for date controls and helps stores identify the items that are in the risk zone of expiring. The tool is already in use by Swedish supermarkets ICA and Coop.
  • RxAll has developed a mobile hand-held device which can authenticate medicines in real time, addressing the issue of drug counterfeiting.
  • SHEKAB works in Pakistan to address problems of daily mobility affecting working women, with a subscription-based monthly carpooling services, a driving school run by women for women, and car-financing plans for female drivers.
  • SimbaPay enables sending money directly to the banked and the unbanked, requiring only a phone number of the recipient.

Third batch of startups on the way

At the end of the program, the startups have a clear perspective on their vision, strategy, impact orientation, growth marketing and business model. Batch 2 has now graduated with a demo day last May that was part of the Katapult Future Fest, a 3-day festival that this year focused on six of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals– the future of learning, health, environment, governance, economy, and food.

The application period for the third batch of startups closed last May, with a new group of promising companies starting in August 2018. “We are excited to help the next batch of startups realize their dreams to solve global challenges,” declared Haakon Brunell.

Using accelerators to spur sustainable innovation

Finch & Beak was closely involved in designing the business plan, the actual development of Telenet's accelerator program and feeding the experiences back into the company to create a culture of innovation. We’ve also developed an in-house Circular Economy Accelerator that enables corporates to identify the most valuable business opportunities from the CE and how to achieve them. For more information on using accelerators to spur sustainable innovation, please contact Jan van der Kaaij, managing partner, at jan@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.

Image source: Katapult

About Nikkie Vinke

Multidisciplinary advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy development and execution. | nikkie@finchandbeak.com