Start-ups that help Europe’s pharma industry solve healthcare challenges gain support and contacts.


Your innovative healthcare solution could be exactly what major pharmaceutical companies are looking for. In this programme, pharma companies set challenges that matter to them and work in partnership with start-ups whose ideas match those challenges.

If you offer an attractive solution, you will collaborate with top experts in your field and obtain development support from a major pharmaceutical company. You will receive a tailored training programme designed to help your start-up achieve success. You will also gain one-on-one access to your pharma sponsors, allowing you to develop relationships with key stakeholders and industry leaders. Past sponsors include industry titans like Pfizer, Bayer, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim and Beiersdorf.

The challengers in 2021

In 2021, the programme seeks start-ups to address challenges from Amgen, AstraZeneca, Merck, Abbott and Takeda.

Image result for abbott

The challenges for 2021

A detailed description of the challenges is available for download here.

Facilitate patients’ identification/screening in clinical trials (in collaboration with Amgen): Clinical trials in oncology and hematology are competitive and becoming more complex. Patient identification based on a specific criteria and profile is a key element of site feasibility. Current solutions do not allow us to estimate recruitment potential in a timely manner. Centres of excellence or cooperative groups with a large portfolio of clinical trials (academic and industrial) need support through innovative solutions to manage the identification and triaging of patients in defined clinical trials. The ideal solution, therefore, should allow better patient identification, higher recruitment and support for data management.

Integrated care for chronic kidney disease patients: Focus on early diagnosis and prevention of life-threatening complications (in collaboration with AstraZeneca): Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is common but highly under-diagnosed and under-recognised by healthcare providers. There is a need for a holistic approach, starting with understanding of risk factors and adequate treatment and disease monitoring. The ideal solution would be an integrated care solution consisting of both system and patient management algorithm and tools, including: (a) a digital solution for patients and healthcare personnel to improve early-stage CKD diagnosis and monitoring; or (b) a solution/technology to inter-connect all specialties involved in CKD Diagnosis, treatment management and monitoring, to improve kidney health, and reduce the demand of kidney transplants and dialysis

Digital remote monitoring and support solutions for patients living with multiple sclerosis (in collaboration with Merck): Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. The key focus of the challenge is about digital remote monitoring and support solutions for patients with MS. The solutions would be used for monitoring disease evolution and/or monitoring of the patient’s quality of life and/or supporting patients in managing symptoms and maintaining high adherence to therapies based on oral medication.

Digital and personalised health for adult ADHD (in collaboration with Takeda): Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a persistent neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 2.5% of adults worldwide. Healthcare personnel may perceive diagnosing adult ADHD as a complex and time-consuming task. Digital solutions can offer help for clinical decision making; for example to confirm adult ADHD diagnosis, personalise the treatment with AI, and to set a baseline for outcome-based treatment monitoring. Solutions for this challenge may include, but are not limited to: gamification, augmented reality/virtual reality, machine learning/artificial intelligence, wearables, sensors, Internet of Things used for clinical decision-making support, support for diagnosis, personalised treatment, and treatment response monitoring.

Tools for monitoring loss of muscle, strength and/or physical function, to manage sarcopenia and frailty in the elderly (in collaboration with Abbott)

Age-related loss of muscle mass and strength leads to loss of physical function and consequently it presents major health and economic burden to society. Currently, there is low awareness of age-related muscle and strength loss due to lack of easy screening/ diagnostic tools. The key focus of the challenge are easy screening/ diagnostic tools that provide digital feedback to the end user (consumer/physician). These tools should be able to integrate into digital support systems downstream that will provide feedback/ recommendations to end-user regarding management steps to prevent progression to mobility-disability.

Who should apply

You should have a company with a validated proof of concept, market validation and prototype that matches one of the challenges released by the pharma companies.

Your company must be based in any Horizon Europe country.

Webinars help you apply

Interested start-ups are kindly invited to watch the webinar recordings, where we provide a detailed overview of the programme, its timeline and the selection process:

Key Details

Application period: 25 January-16 March 2021, 23:59 CET

Programme dates

The programme consists of four different modules with the objective to train and prepare startups to discuss collaboration opportunities with pharma companies.

  • Module 1 (17-21/05/2021, Online/Heidelberg): 5 days “Entrepreneurship training”. Startups will receive tailored workshops on different tools and methods to successfully build their business.
  • Module 2 (07-11/06/2021, Online/Heidelberg): 5 days workshops by pharma partners involved in the programme on how to collaborate with big players in the market.
  • Module 3 (2-23/07/2021, Online/pharma companies´premises): Startups will visit selected pharma companies involved in the programme to discuss collaboration opportunities.
  • Module 4 (November 2021): Demo Day. Startups pitch in front of pharma company representatives, investors, EIT Health partners, stakeholders.

Programme location: Hybrid, with online sessions and sessions in Heidelberg, Germany and other locations in Europe.

Programme cost: Free of charge


Apply here by 16 March 2021

Barbara Costa
| Activity Leader | EIT Health Germany