29th November 2019
InnoStars Awards Grand Final 2019 took place at Bio-Europe in Hamburg. UVera, InoCure and HydruStent on the podium!
Eco-friendly and safe UV protection compound from Poland wins the 2019 EIT Health InnoStars Awards
UVera, a Poland-based team using bacteria to produce a natural UV filter, has won the 2019 EIT Health InnoStars Awards competition, the European programme for early-stage start-ups from Central, Eastern and Southern European countries, where the pace of innovation is still moderate . InoCure, a Czech company offering nanotechnology solutions for improved drug testing, finished as runner-up, while HydruStent from Portugal was placed third for developing a catheter that can diagnose kidney disease and failure. The Grand Final took place in the middle of November in Hamburg, during one of the biggest biotech and medtech congresses in the world – BIO-Europe.
Existing UV filters found in most popular sunscreen products may cause DNA damage, potentially increasing skin cancer risk, while also being allergenic. What’s more, sunscreen lotions washed into the sea pollute marine waters and harm coral reefs. Poland-based start-up UVera is developing a novel method to tackle these challenges. They use naturally occurring species of bacteria to produce a new compound capable of absorbing the entire spectrum of UV sun radiation, offering effective skin protection while also being safe to the body, as well as to the environment.
UVera was one of 116 companies that applied for the third EIT Health InnoStars Awards event, a competition for start-ups from Central, Eastern and Southern European countries with more moderate levels of innovation, participating in the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme of EIT Health, Europe’s biggest healthcare innovation network. In May 2019, fifteen start-ups were selected to receive €25 000 smart money, individual mentoring for four months and the chance to participate in two bootcamps. EIT Health also organised validation interviews with potential customers, investors and partners. To summarise, in addition to accessing money for further developing their technology, participant start-ups received personalised acceleration and mentoring.
“InnoStars Awards was a great international journey of incubation and acceleration for our start-up. We had the chance to meet fabulous mentors and great advisors, who were helping us in the creation of the pitch, with media content as well as in preparing for meetings with investors”, said Magda Jander, representative of UVera.
Ten teams were ultimately short-listed to take part in the InnoStars Awards final pitch on 13 November, during the BIO-Europe event in Hamburg. Here, they had the opportunity to network with thousands of professionals, meeting investors from Europe, the USA and Asia, while also familiarising themselves with the latest trends in healthcare innovation. The list of ten finalists included three companies from Portugal, two from Hungary and one each from the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. In the end, the jury selected UVera as the best team and the recipient of an additional €25 000.
Second place was awarded to InoCure, a bio-nanotechnology company from the Czech Republic. It offers solutions for life science and the pharmaceutical industry. Drug testing is a long and expensive process, where the majority of potential drug candidate molecules fail before entering the animal and clinical testing phases. To increase the effectiveness of in-vitro testing, InoCure used cutting-edge nano-technology to develop the first active 3D cell culture membrane. The solution enables faster, reliable and ethical preclinical testing of drug candidates. The company was awarded an additional €15 000 of funding. InoCure was accelerated earlier by DEX Innovation Centre, the EIT Health Hub in Czech Republic.
Third place went to HydrUStent, a Portuguese company developing new medical devices that are not only cost-effective but also biodegradable. The company is developing a portable, wireless and less invasive uro-dynamic testing technology that allows long-term continuous monitoring of intra-urinary pressures. This will positively impact patients’ lives by reducing the discomfort associated with this type of testing, currently performed only in clinical settings. As a biodegradable device, it also has the possibility to reduce environmental impact. The company was awarded €10 000 additional funding. HydrUStent was also a Finalist at European Health Catapult 2018 with a different product in their pipeline;
“We were delighted by the large number of high-quality contestants applying for this year’s InnoStars Awards. The level of competition showcased the incredible talent pool available in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and the bright future of healthcare innovation in the region. The prototypes of the best teams show that European innovators take sustainability seriously. We hope that the funding, mentoring, validation and networking opportunities offered by EIT Health in the past four months will help turn these great ideas into viable products that will enable European citizens to live longer, healthier and happier lives”, said Balázs Fürjes, Managing Director of EIT Health InnoStars.
 According to European Innovation Scoreboard.
“InnoStars Awards was a great international journey of incubation and acceleration for our start-up. We had the chance to meet fabulous mentors and great advisors, who were helping us in the creation of the pitch, with media content as well as in preparing for meetings with investors”
Magda Jander, representative of UVera