The startup Tech Trailblazers Awards programme has announced a new bursary for early stage non-VC backed startups.

The new Firestarter programme has been created to ensure that entry fees are not a barrier for "new lean startups" who are still securing major funding from VCs, said the organisers.

The new programme is set to attract more earlier stage startups within the accelerator and incubator communities, as well as those self-funding or with angel, seed and crowdfunding as their primary source of investment.

The recent Tech Trailblazers Tech Startup Index surveyed the funding environment for nearly 200 enterprise tech startups. The Index found that 35 percent of those surveyed indicated that raising funds took "considerably longer than anticipated", and 31 percent said that it was "considerably harder than expected".

The bursary aims to ease that pressure in the early stages for a startup. It ensures that "tech firestarters" get a shot at recognition. All eligible entrants who are two years or younger, and who are at the pre-VC funding stage, receive a bursary for the $295 entry fee to their chosen Tech Trailblazers category, as well as a chance to win the new cross category early stage "Firestarter" award.

The other startup awards include the big data, cloud, emerging markets, FinTech, IoT, mobile technology, networking, IT security, storage, sustainable IT and virtualisation categories.

All startups, up to and including those with "series C" VC-backed funding, who are younger than six years old, have until 19 September - as a final extended deadline - to complete their entries.

Rose Ross, founder of the awards, said, "It feels that the time is right to give more of the newest kids on the tech startup block more help and greater opportunity for hard earned reward and recognition. That's what the Firestarter bursary programme is all about."

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