Verhaert, Plug and Play, CIVITTA and Sting win €8.5 million contract to boost European space start-ups

Verhaert Masters in Innovation, Plug and Play Tech Center CIVITTA, and Sting are proud to announce that together they will carry out the €8.5 million CASSINI Business Accelerator contract. This program from the European Commission will accelerate space start-ups in different stages to put European space initiatives back on the center of the map.

Introducing the Cassini Business Accelerator

The growth of space companies in the Americas and Asia has often overshadowed the many different players in Europe, in the USA for example, funding is 9 times higher than in the European Union. With the CASSINI Business Accelerator, the European Commission will boost entrepreneurship in space-related businesses across the EU to reclaim its position in the market. This contract consists of a €6 million fund that will be divided across the accelerated start-ups and scale-ups at the end of a 6-month journey.

The 2-year contract to organize this accelerator has been awarded to a consortium of 3 companies. Within the consortium, Verhaert Masters in Innovation has the lead, assisted by Plug and Play Tech Center, CIVITTA, and Sting. The consortium will ensure space participants are prepared and are facilitated in international sales and investment gatherings. After these 2 years, the contract can be extended with another 2 years and a total investment of €17 million.

What will participants get out of it?

Every year 40 start-ups and scale-ups will be accelerated with a focus on scaling them from local peripheries to a European and global market as well. The program will allow entrepreneurs across Europe to connect with potential clients and investors across different countries, changing the narrative from local to international.

Verhaert will lead the consortium and manage the project, with a focus on providing learning support for the participants. CIVITTA, Plug and Play, and Sting will provide acceleration support in dedicated locations and markets of interest, as well as mentorship in key areas such as sales and business development planning, investment readiness, and market expansion.

“Our mission is to get more funds to invest in exciting European space companies. Supporting these start-ups early on, will give them the boost they need to get picked up by VCs and become key players in the international market”, continues Tomas Jonsson, CASSINI Space Entrepreneurship Initiative.

The first communications will be initiated in the coming weeks and the first cohort of 20 participants will be welcomed in May 2023.




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About Verhaert Masters in Innovation
Verhaert Masters in Innovation helps companies and entrepreneurs to boost their capacity to innovate. Since 1969, Verhaert has been a pioneer in the field of integrated services covering strategic, digital, product and high-tech innovation, consulting, funding and training of innovation teams. The company is active in a wide range of industries like FMCG, life sciences, industry and has a strong heritage in the space industry covering upstream optics, technology transfer and space entrepreneurship. The group has more than 350 employees with innovation centers and hubs in Kruibeke, Antwerp, Ghent, Kortrijk, Westerlo, Nivelles, Noordwijk, Utrecht and Aveiro.

About Plug and Play Tech Center
Plug and Play is the leading innovation platform, connecting start-ups, corporations, venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, we're present in 50+ locations across 5 continents. We offer corporate innovation programs and help our corporate partners in every stage of their innovation journey, from education to execution. We also organize start-up acceleration programs and have built an in-house VC to drive innovation across multiple industries where we've invested in hundreds of successful companies including Dropbox, Guardant Health, Honey, Lending Club, N26, PayPal, and Rappi. For more information, visit

Started as an alliance of advisory firms in the Baltic States, and headquartered in Estonia, CIVITTA is now the leading management consultancy from Central Eastern Europe with thousands of completed projects coming from a flexible approach and international mindset, ensuring successful cooperation with clients in 40+ countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. With an eye on what entrepreneurs and innovative corporations are doing globally, we are able to bring best practices to start-ups and shape ecosystems. CIVITTA is providing innovation services for start-ups, helping them grow and scale; universities, connecting research with business and helping to commercialize R&D; corporates, bringing innovation into big organizations; and governments, helping them build innovation communities and ecosystems nationally and globally.

About Sting (Stockholm Innovation & Growth)
Sting, named the world’s best incubator/accelerator in 2021, helps entrepreneurs develop their ideas into successful, international growth companies. By offering highly qualified business coaching, team & talent support, financing, and a world-class network, Sting has supported more than 370 startups since 2002, of which 70% keep thriving today. Sting is an active leader in developing the Swedish Startup ecosystem, having co-founded several vital initiatives such as SUP46, THINGS, Ignite Sweden, Sweden Sustaintech Venture Day, Luminar Ventures, and Propel Capital. Sting has proven expertise within the Deeptech area with alumni like ReOrbit, Yubico, Evolar, Midsummer, and Enerpoly.