EIT Health InnoStars Awards is one of the main EIT Health accelerator programmes for early-stage healthcare startups from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. This year, the final event saw 10 selected teams from over 100 applicants compete to take home the prestigious prize, and the recognition as a visionary venture with the potential to shape the future of healthcare. We chatted with the winners to hear their thoughts.
Innovation in healthcare is something which impacts each and every one of us. From solutions helping to relieve pressure on healthcare systems and innovations empowering greater autonomy over personal health to new medical devices and beyond, healthtech is a very exciting space in Europe’s startup ecosystem right now.
Now in its 6th year, EIT Health InnoStars Awards is an accelerator programme supporting game-changing innovators and entrepreneurs in the healthtech space.
This year, taking home 2nd place was DP Innovation!
Founded in Hungary, DP Innovation has developed Sprin, a pocked-sized smart nebuliser for inhaled drug delivery.
According to the team the large surface area of the human lung, combined with its abundant blood supply, makes inhaled drug delivery one of the best routes for treating an array of disorders. The problem is that current inhaled delivery devices waste a lot of medication, and deliver less than a quarter of the active ingredient. Because of this, current devices cannot be used to deliver expensive or high-precision agents, such as insulin, antibiotics or gene therapy, or replace injectables. This is what Sprin aims to change, delivering precision medication in a safer, more effective and pain-free way.
We chatted with COO, Yevgeniy Levkovets, to learn more.
Can you tell us about DP Innovations? What are your aims, values, and vision?
We are a medtech company from Hungary, and we are developing a smart precision inhaler intended to broaden the options for inhaled drug delivery beyond lung diseases. Delivering drugs via the lungs is a very efficient method, but, current technologies have problems that make some therapies for conditions beyond lung diseases impossible. We see ourselves as a research and development company.
We value innovation in product design and development with a patient-centred approach. Our vision is to transform the healthcare industry by providing a smart platform technology compatible with a wide range of medications, resulting in improved patient compliance and better treatment outcomes, all with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of life for patients.
What inspired the company?
The founder’s family history of respiratory illnesses and the difficulty quitting smoking inspired the quest to improve the efficacy of existing inhaler technology. Along the way, we found a gap in the market for a specific type of inhaler, a liquid-based nebulizer. This discovery made it more exciting to create a new type of inhaler that is more effective, and easy to use than existing options.
What challenges have you faced along the way so far?
The medical device industry is a heavily regulated industry. There are rules and standards we need to follow. Secondly in order to prove the safety and efficacy of a new inhaler, we need to conduct extensive clinical trials. And all of this is a very expensive endeavour, so raising funding is a constant challenge.
What attracted you to the EIT InnoStars programme?
Funding opportunity and access to healthcare/medtech expertise was the biggest draw. We were able to continue our development from the grant and we got valuable advice and mentoring from experts in various fields including business development, regulatory affairs, clinical, and health technology assessment.
What is the benefit of taking part in an accelerator programme like InnoStars?
Participating in InnoStars Awards gives you access to funding, mentoring at any level of growth, and exposure to like-minded peers and even potential customers and investors, which can help build the brand and grow the customer base. In order to get the most out of taking part, the programme requires you to create a business plan and consult with experts. This helps you to clearly define and refine your product or service, identify potential challenges and opportunities, and develop a strategy for achieving your goals. Furthermore, by participating in InnoStars, you will have the opportunity to showcase your innovation and pitch it to a panel of industry experts, investors and other key stakeholders, which can help to validate your idea, gain valuable feedback, and may attract additional funding and partnerships.
Can you tell us about your experience? Any memorable moments?
Participating in the InnoStars program was a transformative experience for our startup. Not only did we refine our pitch and business plan, but we leveraged the mentoring program the most, to gain expert guidance in five key areas. These were:
- Clinical and regulatory affairs
- Health Technology Assessment
- Fundraising in diabetes market
- European grants and the Horizon program
- Partnership building with Pharma
Through this, we were able to develop detailed strategies that greatly strengthened our business model and future relationship-building with partners. One of the highlights of the programme was the opportunity to pitch our innovation in the grand finale live and being selected as one of the top three finalists. This was a validation of our hard work and a confirmation that we were on the right track towards success.
What are your growth plans? And how will being part of InnoStars support you?
One of our growth plans is to establish as many strategic partnerships as we can this year with academic institutions and healthcare companies. We believe that these partnerships can provide us with access to new resources, technologies, and markets that will help us grow our business. Being part of the InnoStars program will support us by providing us with access to its network of partners and connections, as well as guidance and support in building and managing these partnerships.
How do you plan to leverage the network and the funding granted to you?
Our startup is actively engaging with the mentorship network provided by InnoStars. The mentors have been instrumental in providing us with valuable insights and guidance, drawing upon their extensive experience in the healthcare and technology sectors. With the financial support secured through the program’s award, we are currently undertaking initiatives to develop new prototypes and conduct testing to enhance the functionality of our product. Additionally, we are also leveraging the opportunity to showcase our innovation at various conferences and events, as a way to expand our reach and connect with potential partners, customers and investors.
What would be your advice to startups who might consider applying next year?
Absolutely do it! It was the best accelerator program we participated in so far.
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.