Boosting Digital & AI/ML-based startups

Challenger AI is an intensive acceleration program, focused on Digital & AI/ML-based solutions. We are an international team of ecosystem builders, entrepreneurs, investors, and experts. We’re offering you a tailor-made 3-month equity-free online program with 30+ mentors and 300+ hours of coaching to boost your startup. Get ready to accept the challenge!


What we offer:


Workshops from the top-notch experts in digital, AI/ML, design, business, sales, marketing, investment attraction, etc.

Access to investors

Meet investors from relevant top European VCs and get feedback from them during our events.

Matchmaking with corporations

Getting feedback from corporations and 1on1 meetings with potential opportunities for further collaboration.

Mentoring and coaching

1on1 meetings with business and tech top experts.


Networking events to learn and get connections with other founders, experts and ecosystem players.

Demo Day

An opportunity to present the solution to international investors, large corporations, and ecosystem players.

Equity free

Our acceleration program is "equity-free" (we take up to 5% of investment attracted within 12 months after graduation from the acceleration program).

Challenger AI program:

20-th of September

Application open

Apply to the accelerator by submitting an application form via F6S.

31-rd of October

Applications deadline

Make sure you submit your Application by Monday, 23:59. Within a week you will learn whether you are selected to attend preacceleration bootcamp.

17-18 of November

Preacceleration bootcamp

We organize a special event for you, where you'll have an opportunity to pitch your solution, participate in the workshops from top-notch trainers and meet industry experts. The top 10-15 start-ups will be selected within the next week to become a part of our acceleration program.

End of November - beginning of March

The Acceleration program

Learn about product/market fit, scaling, selling and marketing your product, building the company and attracting investments at the specially tailored workshops during the 3-month of the program. Get even more insights and guidance from your lead and technical mentors during regular mentoring meetings. Receive valuable feedback from the international investors and corporates representatives!



Pitch your startup to the jury of international investors, potential clients, partners and the media at the final event of the Acceleration program. Get the opportunity to stand out, raise awareness and find the partners you need!

March - May

Post acceleration support

The most active teams will receive biweekly follow-up mentoring, access to the international investors, etc.

We are looking for you

Team. We expect applying startups to have a team of at least 2-3 people or more, with the necessary experience and skill-set in place.  

Geography. We are open for startups from all counties and aim to have a diverse batch.    

Idea. We`re looking for companies that have a potential to become the next Unicorn or have tremendous social impact!  

Motivation. We expect participating teams to have the passion, energy, willingness and drive to accelerate their startups.  

Stage. Your startup should ideally have MVP/demo.

Technology. Your startup should be based on digital or AI/ML technologies or is planning to use them.  

Funding. Startups who are raising or planning to raise the funds will benefit the most from our program.  


Harri Tallinn

Co-founder Challenger accelerator, Partner at CIVITTA Estonia

Program design, fundraising, investor relations

Chris Brown

Inception Program Partner Manager, NVIDIA

Startup support, go-to -market, investor relationships

Iurii-Volodymyr Blavt

Co-founder Challenger accelerator, Associate Partner, CIVITTA Ukraine

Funding attraction for startups and startup support programs

Oleksandr Komarevych

Acceleration Program Manager, Bocconi for Innovation

Providing support for startups

David Clark

Product Lead, Data&AI solutions

Business mentor, optimization, GDPR issues

Markus Lippus

MindTitan, Co-founder, Data Science lead

Machine learning, AI expert

Oles Dobosevych

Vice Dean of the Applied Sciences Faculty, UCU

Expert in Machine Learning and Artificial intellligence

Liubomyr Bregman

Visiting Lecturer UCU, Data Science Lead Amazon

Data Science

Eva Simekova

Associate Partner, CIVITTA Slovakia, Business Angel

Legal, financial and organizational structures

Adam Blascik

Data Science team lead DataSentics, ex. PwC

Data Science

Sergey Shelpuk

Vice President of Data Science, Shelf

Data Science

Helen Kokk

Co-Founder Made By

UI/UX Industry & Service Design, Currently Digital Product Design Lead

Yrjö Ojasaar

Investment Partner at Change Ventures


Terje Ennomäe

CEO, Feelingstream

Customer Experience Management, People Management

Mariia Romanova

CEO, Radar Tech

Startup relationship, Sales, Project Management

Oleksandr Romanko

Head of Financial Risk Quantitative Research, SS&C Technologies

Financial risk management, business analytics, optimization and operational research

Andrii Begunov


Digital transformation, development of Agile and Devops practices

Sergii Karaulov

Director of CVM (Customer Value Management), PUMB

CRM, customer analytics, data performance, customer strategy, cross-selling, segmentation

Dmytro Brovchuk

CDO (Director of Data and Analytics), PUMB

Data management and analytics

Iurii Milovanov

Director of AI & Data Science, SoftServe

Strategic Advisor, Enterprise AI Consultant

Mykola Maksymenko

R&D Director, SoftServe

Volodymyr Karpiv

R&D Science Lead, SoftServe

AI, Machine Perception, Quantum Computing and Life Science

Andrii Ryzhkov

Expert Data Scientist, Cluster Lead, SoftServe

AI/ML for Financial Services and Education, NLP, AI Product Management

Oleksandr Chornohal

Head of Big Data Center of expertise, MHP

Data management

Frequently Asked Questions

All of the previous applicants will be considered in the selection if they still want to participate in the program. Submit your application again only if you want to update the information about your startup and your answers.

In terms of the startup stage of development, ideally, you should have a team of at least 2 people and an MVP or demo of a Digital or  AI/ML-powered product. We will also take into consideration startups that have an idea of how to implement digital or AI/ML technology in their existing product.

Selected teams will go through intensive 3-month acceleration and benefit from tailored 1on1 mentoring with the world-class lead and on-demand mentors, and attend workshops by the top-notch experts in digital,  AI/ML, design, business, sales, marketing, investment attraction, etc. The program will also feature networking events for startups to get connections with other startup founders, investors, and other ecosystem players. Startups that are raising or planning to raise the funds will benefit the most from our program.    

Our workshops, bootcamps and mentoring will happen online. We consider having the Demo Day offline or in a hybrid format but we’ll have a final decision closer to the end of the year.

To participate in our online program, committing from 4 to 6 hours a week should be more than sufficient. You will have weekly workshops on different topics from product development to raising capital for your startup. Lead mentors will meet with you and your team biweekly to discuss your pressing questions or ambitious ideas and guide you through the acceleration to get the best results. But if you wish to receive more mentoring and guidance, we will help to pair you with on-demand mentors and experts.  

Since we have an international program with many startups, experts and partners from many different countries, the program will be run in English. All participants need to have a comfortable language level to be able to engage.  

Fill in the application form for Challenger AI at Our application committee will carefully read all of your answers and access if your startup is a good fit for our program. Within a week you will learn whether you are selected to attend an online Pre-acceleration bootcamp where we will have 20-30 best startups - applicants. Only 10 to 15 will be selected to participate in the entire program.  

During this online event, you will pitch your solution, participate in workshops from top-notch local and international trainers, and get some mentoring from the best experts.  You can already see some mentors and experts displayed on our website. The top 10-15 startups will be selected to become a part of our acceleration program.

We are looking for companies that have a tremendous social impact or the potential to be the next Unicorn. When evaluating a startup we will look at the team, idea, market, and the progress you have made so far. We want to see teams with the passion, energy, willingness and drive to make their startups come to life.  

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions at  

Supported by

Unicorn Partners

Growth partner


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The project is financed by Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the funds of development cooperation and humanitarian aid