Berlin has scored a victory over London in the battle to be the main hub for Europe’s start-up companies after Seedcamp split its flagship event of Europe’s largest support programme for fledgling tech businesses between the two cities.

The incubator programme, which began life with a week-long event at London’s Imperial College in September 2007, will now hold four such gatherings in the UK and German capitals. Read more

A pair of Slovenian computer programmers, a stonemason from London and a Dutch-American based on a boat in Amsterdam are among the winners of Seedcamp, the week-long event to foster European entrepreneurial talent.

The organisers decided to invest €50,000 in six of the 20 teams that took part rather than five as had originally been planned due to thee quality of the entrants.

Saul Klein, Seedcamp founder, said: "Seedcamp is about helping as many promising companies get off the ground as possible and we felt that for this year six was the right number."

These include Kublax, a personal finance website that not only aggregates different bank accounts and credit cards, but can ensure that each is updated with new transactions automatically. It aims to improve on the kind of services provided currently by Microsoft’s Money software, creating a considerable competitor from day one.

Other winners have similarly bold ambitions.

Rentmineonline, created by Amsterdam-based Ed Spiegel, aims to do for the rental market what eBay has done for buying and selling items.

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Alan Cumming, the British actor, has become internationally famous through his Hollywood role as Nightcrawler, the superhero who helps save the world in the X Men films.

He is now playing a minor role in the salvation of European entrepreneurs by letting his London apartment be used for the Seedcamp party, ending a week of activities for 20 budding start-up teams.

Seedcamp has a long list of famous supporters, including the founders of Skype, the global internet telephony service, and Fon, the world’s largest wifi network supplier, as well as senior executives from Google, Research in Motion, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Lastminute.com, came to the event today to share some of his advice at a lunchtime question and answer session.

Among his pearls of wisdom was the recommendation to always raise more money than you think you need and to pitch to the venture capitalists you are least interested in first so that at least you can learn from the experience, even if you don’t get the funding.

For the 20 start-up teams, who hope to walk away with €50,000 of funding, today was the all-important pitching contest, where they got 15 minutes to sell themselves to the Seedcamp investors.

The winners, who will get a further three months of mentoring support as well as the cash, will be announced on this blog on Friday.

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Seedcamp Martin Varsavsky, the Argentinian founder of Fon, the world’s largest wifi network, loves Europe so much that he has made Spain his home. But he finds himself a pariah in his adopted country.

"A lot of people in Europe think entrepreneurs are thieves," he told participants at Seedcamp today, having dropped in on the week’s events between flights from Madrid to Beijing.

Mr Varsavsky, who attracts 300,000 a month to his blog on entrepreneurship, is no Eurobashing American. He tried living in the US, he admitted today, but said he didn’t like it, and criticised those in the US who still believe Europe as an expensive museum.

This is probably why his words should be taken seriously by those that believe Europe is somehow superior to demonise those who seek to create wealth.

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Seedcamp The great and the good of Europe’s internet industry came to London today to give their blessing to Seedcamp, a week-long course to give fledgling businesses a fighting chance to make it big.

Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype, the global internet telephony business, Marc Samwer, founder of Alando, the German online marketplace now sold to eBay, and Charlie Muirhead, co-founder of Orchestream, the internet security business, shared the opening panel debate about getting started in business.

Seedcamp itself is a start-up venture with big aspirations. Saul Klein, its founder, told us that he has funding to run repeat its London incubator event several times over the next few years and said he would like to stage Seedcamps in other European cities.

You can see our video from the first day, including interviews with Zennstrom, Klein, and several Seedcamp finalists, here.

A debate has already started on the web about whether this is the right way to stimulate entrepreneurship in Europe, a continent more famous for long holidays than dynamic new businesses. Should not other things be done to change the cultural attitudes that prevent risk taking in the EU?

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Seedcamp A search engine for hot concert tickets and a social networking site for silver surfers are among 20 fledgling web businesses selected for a week-long entrepreneurship bootcamp that its founders hope will spawn Europe’s answer to Google.

Seedcamp, which starts on Monday, is billed as an intensive series of events, run by investors, entrepreneurs and experts in marketing, finance and human resources, aimed at equipping European high-technology start-ups with the skills to grow into multi-billion dollar companies.

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