The first annual Central European Startup Awards (CESA) aimed to bring the startup ecosystems of Central and Eastern Europe closer together, and to place the region on the map as a leading center for innovation.
During the course of the spring, semi-finals took place in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia, where the startups, investors, founders, developers and other members of the local ecosystems competed in 6 categories.
The series of events in the 8 participating countries led to a Grand Finale in Budapest on 30 May at Google Ground, where the winners from the countries of the region, and more than 400 people gathered for the much anticipated awards ceremony.
UXpin, a UX design tool from Poland was awarded startup of the year, while Jan Rezab, CEO and co-founder of the a Czech company Socialbakers was named founder of the year. Austrian startup Roomle received the award for best design startups, and the talented team of CryptTalk won the title developer heroes.
The title investor of the year went to Radu Georgescu from Romania, who’s successful exits include acquisition of RAV antivirus technology by Microsoft in 2003, ePayment business by Naspers in 2010 and Avangate by Francisco Partners in 2013. Vienna based early stage seed fund SpeedInvest was named best service provider.
“We are pleased to see that the region responded to our call and so many talented professionals gathered for the first awards ceremony. I believe that it was the most multi-national event for startups the region has seen so far” - expressed Peter Kovacs, co-founder and CEO of CESA.
CESA was held in association with the sixth annual Hungarian Innovation Tech Show, Hungary’s top-tier exhibition and conference, showcasing new digital products and services and was sponsored by companies like Interoute, Google, Facebook, White Summers, Mito and Starschema. The organisers’ goal for 2015 is to increase the number of nominations and to extend the awards show to additional countries to better connect the ecosystems of the region.