The ACE programme which was launched in September 2013, is a tailor-made acceleration programme to deliver targeted cross-border services to highly innovative ICT entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs with the potential to rapidly grow their businesses in international markets. Coordinated by the pan-European network of EU Business and Innovation Centres (BICs), EBN, ACE involves 15 partners (leading incubators, clusters, living labs and accelerators) from 11 European countries and includes WestBIC and Dublin BIC as the Irish partners.

Support to companies includes hands-on assistance in finding partners and clients; living lab validation in other countries; office space; introductions to investors, and; coaching and pitching for transnational investment.

ACE is a competitive programme and the call for candidates was opened in December 2013 with the first cut off at 28 February 2014. This first round gathered 275+ applications from start-ups and SMEs across Europe, 75 of which are now midway through their tailor-made ACE Programme. The selection process was carried out by the ACE partners, who assessed companies’ innovativeness, international growth potential, motivation and capacity to participate in the programme. On 29 April 2014, ACE companies, mentors, investors and other potential partners converged at the ACE Summit in Brussels. Attended by over 400 participants – including 7 start-ups supported by WestBIC, the Summit was the first occasion for the ACE companies, mentors and investors to meet each other and discuss how to work together to take their businesses global.

Following the meetings at the ACE Summit in Brussels, the mentors worked closely with the companies to elaborate their Internationalisation Action Plans. The customised internationalisation support programmes discussed and agreed upon so far include the implementation of some 300 individual support measures on the ground. All WestBIC supported companies participating in ACE are presently engaged with mentors and/or ACE partners to further develop their internationalisation plans. To date the programme is generating significant results with start-ups accessing key introductions to potential clients, new local market intelligence as well as the opportunity to pitch to international investors.

ACE is funded under Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological  development and demonstration.