Mastercard has announced the Strive EU Innovation Fund, which aims to accelerate the development of solutions to assist small European businesses on their digital journeys. The fund will provide equity-free grants of up to €500,000 to entities of any size, including startups and more established firms, that are focused on innovation in areas such as embedded finance, cybersecurity, environmental sustainability, and AI. The application window for the fund is now open.
Mastercard has a long history of supporting small businesses through initiatives such as the Mastercard Impact Fund, which has provided grants to 25 million small businesses and improved their access to financial services. The Strive EU Innovation Fund is an extension of Mastercard’s global Strive scheme and is the first dedicated activity for Strive EU, which was launched in November. Through Strive EU, Mastercard aims to boost the resilience and growth of Europe’s small business community by supporting innovations that help with access to capital, digitalization, and networking.
Mark Barnett, President at Mastercard Europe, emphasized the importance of supporting small businesses as they join the digital economy, stating that they are “the backbone of the European economy.” The Strive EU Innovation Fund is part of Mastercard’s commitment to empowering small businesses and helping them thrive in the digital economy.
Overall, the Strive EU Innovation Fund is designed to accelerate the development of solutions that support small European businesses on their digital journeys. Through equity-free grants, the fund aims to help businesses unlock working capital and credit, go digital safely, navigate evolving consumer preferences and regulatory expectations, and harness AI for efficiency and profitability. Small businesses are encouraged to apply for the fund, which provides financial backing, technical assistance, and mentoring to selected projects.