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Germany, Accelerator, 2019

After pitches on a ship, EIT Health Germany awards six firms Headstart support

19th July 2019

Start-ups get up to €50 000 plus networking opportunities

EIT Health Germany named six start-ups to receive EIT Health Headstart support, following a pitch contest that took place on a ship cruising through the Neckar Valley around Heidelberg, Germany on 26 June 2019. Twenty-two aspiring healthcare entrepreneurs from Germany, Switzerland and Austria were invited to pitch medtech, biotech and digital health solutions to members of the German and Swiss EIT Health Partnership, as well as regional stakeholders from Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Sixteen of these teams were finalists in the EIT Health Germany Headstart Awards Competition, and six were showcasing innovations that they plan to present for the European Health Catapult Competition.

Out of all the Headstart contestants, six were awarded Headstart support: AcryRad, AUCTEQ, Earlysight, Eisbach Bio, MR Shim and RAMPmedical.

Their innovations address challenges like age-related macular degeneration, choosing the right therapy, improving MR imaging, targeting tumours, treating spinal cancer and reducing contaminants in biopharmaceutical production. The EIT Health Headstart Programme provides funding of up to €50 000 to assist early stage companies and SMEs in developing new products and services.

Selected companies work on their product launch with support from EIT Health regional managers in accessing local and EIT Health networks. This was the first round of EIT Health Germany’s selection for Headstart Awards, a second round is accepting applicants until 12 September 2019. Applications are open now, and you can find out more on this page.

“Of course the prize money is a great financial support, but even more, we appreciate the network of EIT health, which is absolutely priceless,” said Dr. Sahar Nassirpour, CEO and Co-Founder of MR Shim, Headstart winner.

An expert jury

EIT Health Germany’s third annual pitch contest on a ship, held once again aboard the Königin Silvia, culminated with announcements of the winners by Dr. Katharina Ladewig, Managing Director of EIT Health Germany, and Dr. Volker Lodwig, Chair of the Supervisory Board of EIT Health Germany. Start-ups were judged by a jury of experts: Simon Beuerle (AOK Baden-Württemberg), Prof. Dr. Freimut Schliess (Profil GmbH), Maria Sievert (inveox), Dr. Birgit Kerber (European Molecular Biology Laboratory, EMBL), Dr. Nana Bit-Avragim (Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane), Rajnesh Airey (Convergence Partners AG) and Jürgen Simon (Siemens Healthineers Technology Accelerator)

“I have had a wonderful chance to experience a unique and multi-disciplinary ecosystem of start-ups, academic and corporate partners built by EIT Health Germany. To me, it demonstrates a true example of transformative innovation best practices,” said Juror Nana Bit-Avragim.

Detailed profiles of the SHIP 2019 Headstart winners

AcryRad (ScintHealth): ScintHealth develops the first minimally invasive software-based curative therapy for spinal cancer. By using a novel fluid radioactive polymer, which solidifies promptly when injected, ScintHealth’s product AcryRad can be used for metastases and primary tumors in the spine. Since the radioactivity remains at the injection site, high local radiation doses can be delivered while side-effects are strongly reduced. Moreover, ScintHealth’s therapy can be performed in a single-session (vs. up to 40 sessions in the current setup) and at a lower cost. Additionally, reduction of patient scheduling issues and radioactive transport cost are achieved through on-demand, in-hospital preparation.

AUCTEQ: AUCTEQ Biosystems develops an expandable single-use bioreactor to increase the efficiency of biopharmaceutical production processes by reducing contamination risks, working capacity and disposal costs. In biopharmaceutical processes, drug-producing cells are cultured in bioreactors of up to 10 000 litres in size. To start such a bioreactor, a specific volume of cell culture is required. In order to gain this required volume, cells are transferred from milliliter sized bioreactors, stepwise, to bigger bioreactors. Until a volume of 20 liters is reached, the cell has to be transferred up to eight times. These manual transfer steps induce a high contamination risk, require high working capacities and produce a lot of plastic waste. Using AUCTEQ bioreactors, all manual transfer steps are reduced to one single step. In total at least 30% of the current process costs can be saved.

Earlysight: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the largest causes of blindness in industrialised countries. The diagnosis of AMD is usually made too late, when the patient already has some irreversible vision loss. The standard of care in ophthalmic imaging that is used to diagnose AMD is called optical coherence tomography (OCT). This technique is very efficient in showing large scale shape and deformation of the retina layers, but it is unable to obtain good images at the cellular level. Current diagnosis is thus made on large macroscopic defects that usually become visible only at an advanced and late stage of the diseases. Earlysight enables the monitoring of cellular-level details of the retina. We expect that, through yearly-routine examinations after a certain age, early signs of the retinal diseases will be detectable based on early microscopic alteration of the cellular structure and before permanent damage to the eyesight.

Eisbach Bio: Eisbach Bio is an innovative biotechnology start-up founded in 2019 as a spin-out of the Biomedical Center Munich. Eisbach Bio develops novel drugs that target the molecular vulnerabilities that arise in cancer. Some of the most devastating tumours develop so-called tumour suppressor genes. These tumours are incredibly difficult to target, since their genomes constantly evolve. Eisbach Bio can target these tumours head-on. Based on a unique screening and cellular platform, Eisbach Bio develops drugs that correct these disruptive changes within the tumour and can do so in an extremely specific manner that spares non-cancer cells.

MR Shim: MR Shim GmbH is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology and consulting company founded in 2018. MR Shim provides solutions for artefact-free MRI and improved diagnostic quality while paving the way for new MR possibilities. The main product is a plug-n-play add-on device that can be applied to any MRI device. This integrated solution improves the MRI image quality through real-time control of the magnetic field. MRI devices require a stable magnetic field to acquire clear images. Currently, 20% of all MR examinations have to be repeated. This incurs great costs for hospitals. In addition, poor quality MRI images lead to misdiagnosis and repeated treatments, which are costly and life-threatening. This add-on solution will stabilise the magnetic field in real-time, ensuring ultimate homogeneity for artefact-free images.

RAMPmedical: RAMPmedical is a therapy decision support tool that helps physicians to find the right treatment for patients and to stay up to date with the latest research and drug information. This software brings transparency to treatment decisions and can fully evaluate the available options in order to select the best available therapy, based on the patient’s diagnosis and vital parameters. RAMPmedical analyses current treatment guidelines and medical research and presents the results in an accessible way so doctors can understand the information and avoid mistakes.

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