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HepC wins at EIT Healthʼs startup competition

EIT Healthʼs Joint Grand Final for startups took place in Budapest on November 16, with 40 finalists and 22 top winners, who received a total of EUR 200,000 for their developments in the areas of healthcare, raw materials, and food, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

Some 400 innovators applied for the competition earlier this year, three times more than in 2017. The finals came after six months of training and mentoring.

Hungary-based healthcare startup HepC managed to clinch third place, winning EUR 15,000. The startup is working on superinfection therapy (SIT), a biological therapy that stimulates the hostʼs innate immune system.

The event concluded the final stage of three EIT Health InnoStars startup competitions and the Joint Business Ideas Competition by EIT Health, EIT Raw Materials, and EIT Food. According to the press release, EIT’s main goal is to boost innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe, helping innovators and entrepreneurs turn their ideas into products and services for the market.

A live survey which ran during the finals revealed that 57% of respondents believe the most valuable tool EIT Health offers is training and mentoring, while 50% underlined the value of networking.

"Startups get help from us to develop themselves and we give them training to be able to pitch for venture capital and investors," explained Balázs Zoltán Fürjes, director of EIT Health InnoStars. "After the pitch education, they get individualized mentorship. We help them to define their business model, we introduce teams to partners, to VCs and regulatory bodies. We also introduce them to companies that can produce their products, their first buyer or a test site. They meet major innovation hubs in Europe consisting of the EIT Health community, which is important when they want to enter foreign markets. If startups really deploy successful services, it is also good for the citizens of Europe, because they can live healthier, longer lives," he added.

The winner of the health section of the Joint Business Ideas Competition was a team from Portugal, called Nebula X Medical, which aims to end the fear, embarrassment, and discomfort of colonoscopies. They are developing a PillScope, a swallowable capsule that scans the surface of the patient’s colon.

"The Joint Grand Final was a good opportunity to see and meet new talents and new ideas," said Péter Bencsik, consortium research leader at GE Healthcare. "The most important challenges for healthcare companies like GE Healthcare are the rising costs of healthcare, the growing number of the human population on Earth, and the number of chronic diseases we have to treat day-by-day. The challenges for us are to find the most cost-effective treatment options for hospitals, so these startups may find good solutions to these problems that we can use in our technology, and make a more sustainable healthcare system together."