• • Candidates that apply until the 20 th of July have a chance to receive a seed investment of up to € 100,000 
  • • A Special Challenge concerning the new ways of interaction in the light of COVID-19 has been added to the Call for Solutions preferably focused on digital health startups and projects working in the central nervous system and respiratory disease areas

Milan, 24 June 2020 - The countdown has begun for digital health startups. Candidates have just under a month to submit their applications for Open Accelerator (OA), the accelerator program dedicated to Startups in the Life Sciences created by Zcube, the Zambon Group's Research Venture, now in its fourth edition.

It seeks digital and cutting-edge solutions to improve patients' lives, mainly in the areas of central nervous system and respiratory diseases, as well as new solutions to tackle the needs triggered by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Thanks to the program created by Zcube, many innovations, including wearable devices, biomarkers and artificial intelligence applications to name a few, could also become useful solutions for rethinking traditional patient care delivery methods. The submitted projects must fall under the following four macro technological areas: Digital Prevention, Monitoring and Therapeutics; Digital Diagnostics; Virtual Health; Clinical Trials Digitalization.

The OA 2020 edition is also introducing a Special Challenge dedicated to the new ways of interacting among healthcare professionals, industry and the community which have clearly become necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the recent months, several initiatives have already been put in place to overcome, for instance, the challenge of physically going to a hospital to receive the required treatment – suffice to think of the care delivered by many chronic disease specialists. But there is an urgent need to find long term solutions for innovating the healthcare system and the services it provides, making them more flexible and more closely aligned to the needs of the population.

“With Open Accelerator we are calling on new generations to rethink the future of healthcare by looking at technology as one of the potential solutions for improving people's well-being. Over the years, the programme has brought new ideas and innovation to our sector, as well as the drive to overcome the current physical barriers through greater digitalisation. That is why this year we have decided to focus specifically on digital health and, to this end, alongside the main technological areas, we have also added a special section in response to the needs that emerged during the recent pandemic”, General Manager and Board Member of OpenZone and Zcube Fabrizio Conicella said.

In its previous editions, Zcube received over 200 applications from startups based in twenty different countries. Twenty-eight teams have now participated in the accelerator program and seven projects have received the seed award. They include smart shoes for people suffering from neurological conditions and an online platform that analyses the gathered data and provides decision support to the specialists. Another example is a hand-held sphere-shaped device that reduces essential tremor of the hands, a digital stethoscope for monitoring people suffering from lung diseases through an app, and a biomarker that allows early diagnosis of degenerative diseases and others.

"Taking part in this project was an amazing experience. It is the most intensive program we have ever participated in. The standards are extremely high, in terms of the mentoring as well as the training we received. It was also very useful to exchange ideas with the other startups participating in the program with us” said Ralph Steidl, founder of Portabiles HealthCare Technologies and one of the winners of the 2018 edition of Open Accelerator.

From the 20th of July, the Zcube team, in collaboration with a panel of experts, will be selecting the startups which, between October and November, will participate in the four-week intensive accelerator program held in the Open Zone science campus just outside Milan.

During this period, the most promising startups will have access to a vast international network of entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, Venture Capitalists and Life Sciences professionals. The estimated value of the program – in terms of the services and mentoring and coaching activities delivered – is of around € 25,000 per participant.

The awards ceremony for the most promising projects will be held in December.

The initiative also leverages the support of several partners, including Deloitte, UniCredit Start Lab, Premio Marzotto, IQVIA Biotech, Italian Angels for Biotech, Portolano Cavallo, Bird & Bird, Innogest, Evoleen, Huma, Nina Capital and LifeSeeder. Discussions are currently underway with other potential Italian and international partners in order to offer maximum support to the selected startups during the accelerator stages.