Skolkovo resident startup VisionLabs has been selected from among more than 300 companies to become one of 12 participants of ChallengeUp!, an international startup accelerator run by Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom.

Participants of the ChallengeUp! accelerator run by Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom. Photo: ChallengeUp!

VisionLabs, which makes facial recognition and computer vision technology and software, will now take part in the intensive seven-month incubation programme for young entrepreneurs working in the field of Internet of Things (IoT), in which participants get coaching from the trio of international tech giants in launching their products or services on the global market.

VisionLabs, a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster, applied for the acceleration programme in order to gain access to new sales channels on the international market, said the company’s general director Alexander Khanin. The company has already received a wealth of useful recommendations from the experts at Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom about marketing the product in Europe, he said.

“We have received crucial advice about how to correctly position our product in terms of privacy, and about how to work effectively with European partners and penetrate their market,” Khanin told

“The comments of a sales director for an entire region can be very different from those of a regular tech developer. We have had the opportunity to listen to comments, suggestions and constructive criticism from everyone, and were able to reach a point of synergy,” he said.

As part of the ChallengeUp! programme, scenarios in which VisionLabs solutions could be used by Deutsche Telekom and Intel are being worked on. “Then there are several more stages, which we hope will result in concrete projects,” said Khanin.

More than 300 startups applied to take part in Challenge Up!, which is in its second year and is free to early-stage entrepreneurs and startups: the organisers take no equity in return for participation. The final 12 participants were selected on May 9-11 at the hub:raum accelerator in Krakow by a panel of tech, sales and business development experts.

“In 2015, VisionLabs was deservedly selected to take part in Intel’s Russian acceleration programme and, working together with our staff, has already started several promising projects in the banking sector,” said Igor Kaloshin, general director of Intel Software, and a mentor of VisionLabs.

“Now, having won a place in the final of Challenge Up!, the team is entering a new stage of development in which it can use Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom’s formidable channels around Europe to significantly speed up and strengthen its international expansion. The guys have a very intensive and packed seven months of acceleration ahead of them,” he added.

VisionLabs is the only Russian startup selected to take part in ChallengeUp! The other finalists are four startups from Germany, along with companies from Israel, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece, Austria and the UK. The programme will culminate on November 29 at the hub:raum accelerator in Berlin, when the companies will pitch their success stories to investors, clients and corporate executives.

“VisionLabs is a good success story and a good example for all those teams that are looking to harness the new wave of creative disruption: deep learning in neural networks,” said Albert Yefimov, head of Skolkovo’s Robocentre, part of the IT cluster.

“The [VisionLabs] team was able to adapt the latest technology – facial recognition – to solve an existing business challenge: the prevention of fraud in the banking sector,” he said.

VisionLabs is also one of just six finalists in Innorobo, Europe’s biggest robotics trade fair, which is being held in Paris on May 24-26.