The search for Europe's top Internet entrepreneurs takes to the streets tomorrow in a bid to prove that Americans don't have all the best ideas.
Backed by Swedish venture capital company e-chron, the pan-European competition, dubbed e-challenge, aims to identify, develop and launch the next generation of world-class Internet companies.
Budding Internet millionaires are invited to submit their business plans either online or by attending one of the e-challenge events. The deadline for entries is 29 February and the best Internet companies will be offered venture capital and business development expertise.
The European tour starts in Munich tomorrow (26 January) and moves around Europe, hitting London on 10 February. The competition is supported by companies including Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, Ernst & Young, Lotus, CNN and research firm The Yankee Group.
Niclas Carlsson, president of e-chron, said: "It's time to revolutionise the European Internet industry. We want to find the entrepreneurs with the brightest minds and the strongest determination to develop tomorrow's world class companies."
"The idea behind e-challenge is to select the most promising Internet companies within Europe, while creating and supporting a meeting place where the hottest Internet entrepreneurs can interact with venture capitalists and professional service providers," he said.
One of the judges, Scott Smith, director of The Yankee Group's European Internet Strategies research service, explained the need for such a competition: "It has taken the US market six years to reach critical mass in the Internet economy. We expect Europe to take half that, and the e-challenge competition is really a part of this acceleration process in Europe."
The first e-challenge competition was held in Scandinavia last year and attracted more than 300 Internet companies. The winner was ZoomON, the first company to offer a tool for Web-aided design. ZoomON has increased in staff and market value ten-fold since submitting its business plan to e-challenge.
This year the organisers expect 1500 entrants with 150 business plans reaching the semi final. The 15 finalists will then present their business plans during a two-day conference on 16-17 May in Helsinki and Stockholm.
FULL E-CHALLENGE TOUR DETAILS
Wednesday 26 January
Monday 31 January
Wednesday 2 February
Sophia Antipolis, France
Thursday 3 February
Tuesday 8 February
Wednesday 9 February
Thursday 10 February
Thursday 10 February
Monday 14 February
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