HomeKnow-HowEIT Health's Attract to Invest Programme: The inside scoop from participating startups

EIT Health’s Attract to Invest Programme: The inside scoop from participating startups

Aiming to support health innovators actively shaping a better, healthier tomorrow, EIT Health is behind a new accelerator programme that takes an entirely new approach – Attract to Invest. The programme promises to show the reality of start-up life, cut the toxic positivity and give real-life tools for real-life scenarios. We caught up with some participants to find out more.

Attract to Invest is a unique, tailor-made program to prepare promising healthtech startups from CEE and Southern European countries to fundraise effectively. The concept is built upon the pillars of value, transparency and credibility, aspiring to show the reality of the startup hustle and equip teams with the tools they need to survive and thrive. 

The programme, which just closed its inaugural edition, gives startups the chance to take part in a Fundraising Bootcamp, where the teams can get hands-on experience in creating an investment strategy, finalizing business planning, defining USP, optimizing pitch content, establishing and managing investor relations, optimizing term sheets and investment conditions.

It puts practice and theory hand-in-hand and gives startups practical solutions, defined by credibility, transparency and experience. 

To kickstart the programme, 15 startups were chosen from across southern, central and eastern Europe this year. We chatted with some of them to learn more. 

Corify: Developing the ACORYS Mapping System

Founded in 2019, Corify is a spin-off from Madrid’s Hospital Universitario Gregorio Marañón and the Universitat Politècnica de València. The Spanish team is developing the ACORYS Mapping System – a non-invasive cardiac mapping system that allows clinicians to see electrical activity in the surface of the heart, without the need for invasive catheters or medical imaging (e.g., MRI, CT scan).

Javier Milagro, one of the founders, explained: “ACORYS provides clinicians with valuable information on cardiac surface electrical propagation in patients with cardiac arrhythmia in a noninvasive, fast and safe fashion.”

“Our vision is to improve prognostics and treatment of patients with cardiac arrhythmias.”

Our Pocket Hero: wearable healthtech for kids with diabetes

Founded in 2019, Our Pocket Hero is a Lithuanian startup on a mission to improve the lives of children diagnosed with diabetes. Founder Simona Koncytė developed the startup after putting her sewing skills to use to help out a friend whose son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. An incurable disease, type 1 diabetes requires children to go about daily life with a device attached to their bodies. It limits their freedom and can result in bullying. 

Simona came up with the idea of creating clothes that can comfortably and discreetly carry insulin pumps, drastically improving the lives of children with diabetes: “I decided to fill the gap in the market and designed protective and discreet pockets, with easy access to the device, even during the cold season, when kids have many layers.”

Simona further explained: “Our goal is to help children who have diabetes blend in, so the clothes look like regular ones with well-thought pockets suitable for any child treasures. The design was made with sustainability in mind. We use eco-friendly fabrics, labels, and packaging, items are made locally in Lithuania in a small town, while providing fair payment for the sewing ladies’ work.”

“​​I started to build a community and want to send a message to our little heroes that they are not alone. 200 happy customers from 26 different countries around the globe are already enjoying our clothes.”

The challenge of starting a startup

The life of a startup founder isn’t easy, and there are a number of challenges and obstacles along the way. Accessing programmes such as Attract to Invest can be one way to overcome these. 

For Simona, building Our Pocket Hero has thus far been full of challenges, “but also the most inspiring and purposeful path”.  Most difficulties have arisen as a result of a resource deficit, a common challenge for early-stage startups, and exactly what Attract to Invest was designed to help with. 

For Javier, embarking on an entrepreneurial journey brought about similar obstacles. 

“The first challenge is to know what an enterprise and a business plan should look like and start shaping them. This is easier said than done. Getting funding and building a team of A players are also some of the multiple challenges to face when raising a startup.”

Participating in Attract to Invest

Starting out on an accelerator programme can be a daunting task for early-stage founders, but it’s also an exciting one and, for these startups, was the chance to get best equipped to learn about, score and onboard investors. 

Simona: “I’ve been wanting to learn more about fundraising for quite some time. I’d never heard of the EIT health Attract to Invest Attract2Invest program before. I loved the idea of having a mentorship session as well as hands-on practical experience. Theoretical knowledge is beneficial, and you may learn a lot. However, practising might be challenging, especially if you lack expertise or do not know how to accomplish it.”

What was the experience like?

Simona: “There are so many misconceptions about fundraising, and I am grateful that all of my questions were answered. Applying for this program was one of the wisest moves I’ve made. I liked having one-on-one mentorship meetings. I’ve had several consultations in the past, but many of them were broad and applicable to everyone. Having someone working directly on your start-up is something that every entrepreneur wishes for. The bootcamp lectures were based on a lot of practice and experience in real life, with actual firms. This is what distinguishes the consultations that provide advice from a theoretical standpoint.”

Javier: “The experience in the programme is great. The bootcamp in Vienna was very intense and demanding, but I found it super interesting and useful. It was great to learn from so many projects all around Europe and to share our particular experiences and feedback during the group sessions.”

What has been unique about the programme?

Simona: “I liked how we got together with other start-ups and learned a lot from one other and with each other. This program is unique in that it has a very clear system that is all in one place and has really important information that can be accessed at any time after the program.  Francois Mazoudier and Marcela Donatello are walking encyclopedias with the most up-to-date knowledge about fundraising.”

Javier:  “The structure of the programme, combining knowledge sessions with teamwork. The teamwork was particularly useful, in order to share and have feedback from the other members of the team.”

What’s been the most rewarding part?

Simona: “The most rewarding part of this program was the increased confidence that I developed. Knowing how to ask the right questions of investors and understanding why they ask the questions they do. Most importantly, I’ve begun creating my own fundraising strategy, complete with clearly defined goals and timelines. I also did not expect to receive public speaking coaching, which was extremely powerful and unforgettable. I liked how the program outlined the pitch presenting procedure. Having such talented people working on your presentations is something I did not expect but much appreciated. I am really excited to present my pitch now because I am so confident about it.”

How will taking part help boost your long-term plans?

Simona: “Parents frequently request that we make various types of apparel, such as dancing bodysuits, school uniforms, and adult types of clothing. We want to expand our company so that we can satisfy their needs and demands. Furthermore, we want to develop our wholesale sector in the upcoming year. To increase our sales, we established a marketing strategy for that. And, in order to meet our goals, we will implement our fundraising strategy as well.

Being a part of this program means having access to the most powerful health innovators and health industry experts. Get support and assistance in spreading the word about our start-up, as well as financial assistance in allocating a budget for marketing and strengthening our business. And have an attractive pitch ready after this boot camp, which helps us get the second meeting with the investors.”

Javier: “We are preparing for fundraising so that we can reach the international market once we have obtained the CE mark and FDA clearance for our product. For us, being part of the programme, learning how VCs think and behave, discovering the best way to approach an investor, and what we can expect and should check when addressing the term sheet, will help us to avoid several mistakes when fundraising. 

The comparison of the pitch from the first to the last day has really shown the benefits of this programme.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been created in collaboration and with financial support from EIT Health. If you’re also interested in partnering with us, just reach out.

EIT Health is one of the biggest European public-private partnerships in the field of healthcare innovation. Comprised of approximately 150 Partners, EIT Health is a unique European network of top companies, universities, research and development centres, as well as hospitals and institutes. EIT Health’s role is to build an ecosystem that enables the development of healthcare for the future so that European citizens can live longer and healthier lives. 

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Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.
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