Bridgehead: New call for Health startups to enhance breakthrough innovations

EIT Health has announced the opening of their ‘Bridgehead’ programme to health start-ups supported by the European Innovation Council (Bridgehead Call for EIC Ventures), in the first roll out of activity for their recently agreed pilot collaboration.

The year-long ‘EIT-EIC CollabPilot’ project will seek to create synergies between the two organisations for the purpose of enhancing Europe’s innovation and breakthrough technologies in healthcare. The project was funded via Horizon 2020 with one million euros and is coordinated by EIT Health. One core element will be allowing the most promising start-ups to easily move between selected EIT Health and EIC programmes without delay and therefore find the best support depending on their needs and opportunities. Flagship EIT Health programmes including Bridgehead, Gold Track, and Bootcamps, will be offered to EIC supported ventures under the collaboration.

“We are happy that the EIT and EIC pilot collaboration is now stretching its wings via three new Horizon 2020 funded projects, among which is the ‘EIT-EIC CollabPilot’ coordinated by EIT Health. The collaboration will provide the opportunity to test synergies between organisations and programmes, exchange ideas, support the best innovators and entrepreneurs and reach out to local innovation communities. We look forward to collaborating with EIT Health,” said Jean-David Malo, Director of the European Innovation Council.

The Bridgehead programme, which is currently in its fourth year, supports start-ups who have proven the validity of their solution in one or more home market to expand to new international markets. During the programme, start-ups gain funding and guidance from members of EIT Health’s vetted European network of top-notch accelerators, incubators, or clusters, who advise on feasibility within intended markets and open the right doors to establish and grow cross-border business.

“EIT Health has vast experience in supporting start-ups specifically in the healthcare sector, as well as a large network from which to tap into. By supporting both start-ups discovered by EIT Health and the EIC, we can ensure that the very best are given the backing they need – whether that is funding, skills development, investor relations or knowledge and contacts to scale outside of their home country. The partnership between EIT Health and the EIC will allow two powerful advocates to come together to accelerate European start-ups with the full force of our respective resources. We’re starting small in the pilot phase, supporting 28 start-ups through Bridgehead and, later, our other popular programmes including Gold Track and Bootcamps however, we hope to expand in future” said Kurt Höller, Director of Business Creation, EIT Health.

Major challenges exist for healthcare start-ups in being able to effectively scale their businesses internationally within a complex and regulated environment. The healthcare market across Europe is highly fragmented, meaning that start-ups cannot easily transfer what has worked well in one market directly to another due to vastly different local regulations, payors, and healthcare systems. Recent data published by McKinsey & Company demonstrates that while Europe generates 36 percent of all formally funded start-ups, it creates only 14 percent of the world’s unicorns.Funding, expertise, resources, and contacts are all vital in contributing towards the potential success of healthcare start-ups and their ability to scale.

EIT Health is a network of best-in-class health innovators with approximately 150 partners and is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. We collaborate across borders to deliver new solutions that can enable European citizens to live longer, healthier lives.

As Europeans tackle the challenge of increasing chronic diseases and multi-morbidity, and seek to realise the opportunities that technology offers to move beyond conventional approaches to treatment, prevention and healthy lifestyles, we need thought leaders, innovators and efficient ways to bring innovative healthcare solutions to market.

EIT Health addresses these needs. We connect all relevant healthcare players across European borders – making sure to include all sides of the “knowledge triangle”, so that innovation can happen at the intersection of research, education and business for the benefit of citizens.

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