FAQ Section:

When is the application deadline?

The Energy Efficient Technology & offshore Industry program has an application deadline at midnight CET on December 1st, 2016. Participants in the two program branches will compete for two spots in the Scale-Up Denmark finale – we choose one candidate from each branch to compete in the finale of Scale-Up Denmark.

Who is behind Next Step Challenge?

Next Step Challenge is powered by various partners – SE (SouthEnergy), CLEAN, Insero, Offshoreenergy.dk, EEU, Sønderborg Vækstråd and SVUF. Next Step Challenge was established in 2013 to attract exciting startups, scale-ups and SME’s to take part in our innovative business environment. In 2016 Next Step Challenge became part of Scale-Up Denmark and now runs two Elite Centres focusing on Energy Efficient Technology & Offshore Industry.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Entrepreneurs participating in Next Step Challenge are required to have a valid passport (and other relevant documents if you live outside the EU), a proficiency in English, and the willingness to relocate to Esbjerg, Sønderborg or Vejle, Denmark for at least 5 months (ie. only international finalists must relocate).

Is Next Step Challenge open to companies outside of Europe?

Yes, companies from all countries are welcome to apply.

What do we mean by companies?’

Companies applying to Next Step Challenge must be a business with at least one full-time employee, preferably more. Ideally, applying startups, scale-ups & SME’s should have a registered tax ID, but do not hesitate to apply if this is not the case. The business has to be more than just an idea. Business ideas without a rudimentary business model will not be accepted. Applicants should have a proof-of-concept or a model view presentation, but products that are beta-stage or already on the market are preferred.

What if I want to apply but my Company does not specialize in Energy Efficient Technology or Offshore Industry?

Companies not involved with these specified fields can still apply. You can also check out the other 8 Elite Centres at http://www.scale-updenmark.com as well. Applications will be considered on their business merit and we will hand over your application to one of the other Scale-Up Denmark Elite Centres if they suit you better. However, all companies are welcome to apply, even if they work outside one of the focus industries. The Next Step Challenge team is willing to consider all great business ideas.

What if my company has already received funding?

No problem. Next Step Challenge can accommodate startups that have already received early stage financing such as seed and Series A. If your company has received funding before, please specify the details in the relevant field on your application.

What if my startup has already participated in another accelerator?

Also not a problem. Next Step Challenge will consider applying companies that have participated in another accelerator prior to the start date of the upcoming Next Step Challenge round.

How much does the program cost?

There are no associated costs with becoming a participant or taking advantage of the free office space, Founders Pack (valued at €50.000), and numerous consultancy services. However, the value/fee of the program is 33.000 Euro pr. Finalist – half of which is under the de minimis rule and half of which is sponsored by private partners – and you do have the option of paying to participate, if your Company is not chosen as a finalist. Entrepreneurs will only have to pay for their daily living expenses & accomodation.

Does Next Step Challenge take equity in your business?

No. Next Step Challenge and its sponsors do not take any equity or shares in your business at any point during the course of the program. The main goal of the Next Step Challenge team is to develop your company into an exciting investment prospect. After the conclusion of the 5-month program, our main hope is that your company will have developed to the stage at which it can attract further financing. At this point, investors affiliated with Next Step Challenge may have the interest to Invest in your Company

Are there any conditions to the potential financing and potential prize money?

Next Step Challenge and its sponsors will not take any equity in your company in exchange for the potential financing. A prerequisite for both is that the money be paid out to a Danish company. This condition is unproblematic, since the Next Step Challenge team will help you register your company in Denmark for free, once you are selected to participate in the program. It is also mandatory that recipient companies complete the 5-month business development program, but this benefit comes as part of the Next Step Challenge package, and we consider it to be a crucial element of your business success anyway.

Who is my consultant?

When participating in the Next Step Challenge we set up a team to help your company realize its full business potential. You will have a designated program manager that will coach you on a weekly basis in regard of your business canvas, hypotheses and action plans. We will also connect you with a business expert, an industry expert from a large corporate and a network expert – topping it off with monthly marketing expertise. The team around your company will help you focus on your needs as a company.The team are assigned on the basis of their fit with your company’s product, team and stage of development, but there will be many occasions to interact with mentors & experts affiliated with the other participants. All consultants are eager to help your business realize its full potential.

What is the Founders’ Pack?

Companies will receive a free benefit package called the Founders’ Pack as part of Next Step Challenge. The free resources and tools in the Founders’ Pack comprise legal advice, market research, server hosting, accounting and consulting. Partners of Next Step Challenge will provide all of these services.

What is the ‘Living Lab’?’

The Living Lab is the term we use to describe accessibility to the advanced infrastructure in the Region of Southern Denmark. SE Next Step provides access to a unique smart energy network and advanced fibre broadband infrastructure: automated meter readers have documented the energy usage of 270,000 households over the last 6 years, all energy stations are digital, and 80% of all households in the region have access to high-speed fibre broadband. While at SE Next Step, Sønderborg or Greentech Center Vejle, companies in Next Step Challenge will have access to this data, as well as high-speed fibre broadband and large-scale test facilities, where products can be tested in order to reduce the time until their entry to the market. Altogether, the living lab is a unique offering of Next Step Challenge, and provides participating companies with innovation and research opportunities that are not available at other conventional accelerators.


Where is Next Step Challenge located?

During the 5 months of the program, Companies will be able to work from either SE Next Step in Esbjerg, Greentech Centre in Vejle or SIS (Sønderborg Iværksætter Service) in Sønderborg Denmark (for the Energy Efficient Technology program). And for Offshore Industry finalist the location is SE Next Step in Esbjerg Denmark – all international Companies are required to relocate to the Next Step Challenge locations during the program. For Danish Companies this is optional.

How many team members are required to relocate?

The program requires that at least two key team members of a participating startup relocate to Denmark for 5 months. However, companies that involve their entire team will be positioned to benefit the most from personalized consulting services, industry-specific workshops, entrepreneurship boot camps, and the “living lab,” among other things. The stronger the team, the better your chance at becoming a finalist in Scale-Up Denmarks Grand finale and realizing your companies full potential.

Do I have to have to stay in Denmark after Next Step Challenge?

We strongly encourage your team to remain at our locations after participating. Maintaining a presence in Esbjerg, Vejle or Sønderborg will allow your company to benefit from the living lab and thriving business environment surrounding our locations, as well as provide better access to the consultants, fellow participants, and investors you have met during your time in the program.

How are participants selected?

Participating companies are selected by a panel of experienced serial entrepreneurs, industry experts and program organisers on the basis of the product, the team, and the companies potential to scale internationally.

What is the likelihood that my company will be accepted?

We cannot comment on the probability your company will be accepted into the program. However, you can improve your chances by submitting a detailed and honest application. Applications that have minimal, dishonest or confusing responses to the required questions will provide an incomplete description of your company, thereby weakening the likelihood of its admission into Scale-Up Denmark powered by Next Step Challenge.

When will I be notified of the status of my application?

After the submission deadline, all applications will go through an extensive review process by our experts. After the experts has discussed each submission and clarified any incomplete information, applicants will be informed of the final decision.

What if my company is not accepted?

Because Scale-Up Denmark powered by Next Step Challenge is a selective program, we cannot accept all the promising companies that apply. Companies who are not accepted should keep up the hard work and apply again to the next round of Next Step Challenge, or consider applying for another one of Scale-Up Denmarks Elite Centres


The grand finale of Scale-Up Denmark is the national finale to become Scale-Up Denmark Company of the Year! It is a final across the 10 Scale-Up Denmark Elite Centres and hence your Company’s chance to run away with the big titel of being selected as the best and most promising Scale-Up Company in Denmark.

How do I qualify for the grand finale of Scale-Up Denmark?

To be considered for the finale, your company must be accepted into one of the Scale-Up Denmark powered by Next Step Challenge Energy Efficient Technologies / Offshore Industry program branches (or one of the other Elite Centres) and complete the 5-month business development program. The two program branches will run simultaneously where all participating companies have the opportunity to win Next Step Challenge and a spot in the national finale of Scale-Up Denmark. At the conclusion of the program in summer 2017, an independent, external panel will choose a Winner from each of our two branches the companies that has progressed the most throughout the course of the 5 months and is judged to be the most promising investment case. This panel will be composed of impartial and experienced serial entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors.