The Slush startup conference has decided to reverse its controversial decision to award Immigram, a startup founded by two young Russian citizens, the top prize in its pitching competition. The decision comes when lot of criticism above the award, and many argue that Europe’s tech scene should not support the company in any Russian extension.
“Due to new information regarding the extent of the Slush 100 Pitching Competition in Russia, Slush has decided to cancel their contest,” the tournament organizers said. said in a statement on Monday.
“Slush has asked participants, who are currently doing their own research, to invest their money in Immigram.”
As the winner of the pitch competition, Immigram, which helps tech talent (including Russians) move to the UK, is in line to receive €1m in investment from five leading international VCs: Accel, General Catalyst , Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA and Northzone.
Neither company responded to Sifted’s request for comment on the investment by the time of publication.
A Slush statement added: “Slush is sorry for the oversight. We should have reviewed the work of all participants before allowing them to enter the competition.
Immigram also bends
In the statement posted on LinkedIn on Monday shortly before Slush tweeted its decision, Immigram said it had “withdrawn” from the competition.
Immigram is a British company, founded in 2019 by two Russian citizens, Anastasia Mirolyubova and Mikhail Sharonov, who both moved to the UK in 2016. The startup helps technology from 10 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, India and the US, apply for the UK’s global talent visa.
Shortly after Immigram won the competition, an image of a Russian company was created that seemed to show that it was recruiting for work in Moscow. The company says it has no offices in Russia or any employees based there, and no money from Russian investors. He says he hires people in Russia but only on the condition that they move to another country immediately. Mirolyubova has said that she is against any Russian war in Ukraine.
“We will continue to support Ukraine and build an environment for millions of talented people who want to move abroad,” the company said in a statement.
Zosia Wanat is a central and eastern European correspondent for Sifted, based in Warsaw. He tweeted from @zosiawanat