Events - 2nd ePitching to Procurers on COVID-19: Bridging the gap by innovation procurement
On 17 November 2020, 16 innovators had the chance to show their COVID-19 solutions during a dedicated ePitching session to 35 public and private procurers. The event, organised by the DG Research & Innovation People Directorate and the European Innovation Council, was a follow-up of the first EIC ePitching to Procurers on COVID-19, which took place in April this year. Read the takeaways of the event, meet the two winners, and see how to continue participating in procurement initiatives in our Community.
Coronavirus has taught the world that, when hospitals are engulfed by a new virus, the healthcare systems are vulnerable, and the patient’s safety is adversely affected. But, since the early stages of the pandemic, European start-ups and researchers are working closely with hospitals and government entities to close these gaps with innovative solutions that can improve hospitals safety. The European Commission is actively supporting this reaction with multiple events and initiatives aiming to foster healthcare innovation and the ePitching to Procurers on COVID-19 is one more example. After the success of the first event, the DG Research & Innovation People Directorate and the European Innovation Council joined forces to repeat the session.
Jean-David Malo, Director of the EIC, and Irene Norstedt, Acting Director of the People Directorate at DG Research & Innovation, opened the session with the former stating that: “the ePitching against COVID-19 is not only key to support forefront hospitals and medical teams facing the pandemic, but also for the European Innovation Council, as well as the Research & Innovation Horizon 2020 Health programme, to support a number of beneficiaries to reach the market and scale-up”. Irene Norstedt highlighted that this event forms part of a strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the European Commission, reminding the audience that “by the end of this year, the EC will have invested €1 billion into research and innovation to tackle the virus and its consequences”.
“My to-do list is again larger than ever”
The pitches were divided in 2 rounds: the 1st session brought together 8 companies funded under the Research & Innovation Horizon 2020 Health programme and the second round gathered 8 projects funded by the European Innovation Council. Austrian company APEPTICO was the winner of the 1st pitching session with their SOLNATIDE Investigational Medicinal Product (IMP), designed for the therapeutic treatment of patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and various forms of Pulmonary Permeability Oedema (PPO). The solution is being clinically tested under the EU-funded SOLNATIDE project (https://www.solnatide.eu/) and has already been approved for compassionate use for the treatment of COVID-19 patients suffering from PPO and ARDS in Austria and Italy.
The startup, composed by 4 scientists, already conducted different Phase I and Phase II clinical studies for the treatment of ARDS, and according to CEO Bernhard Fischer, the company is now trying to enrich their network through these initiatives: “We applied to this event to introduce our product to this community of procurers. It was the second time that I was participating in this type of events and I found the ePitching very interesting. it was a great opportunity to learn about procurers and t other companies”, highlighted Fischer.
The EIC-funded company Avy was the winner of the second pitching round, presenting their lifesaving medical drone. The Dutch start-up focuses on manufacturing drones suitable for transporting medical cargo such as blood, medicines or samples and developed a solution to transport COVID-19 vaccines as well. After the ePitching, Patrique Zaman pointed out: “Sometimes, when we have webinars or online meetings, either it doesn’t work technically, or we have a very limited amount of people there and that can be a disappointment. But here it was the opposite. There were a lot of people here, a lot of procurers, super insights, great pitches, great conversations and good questions as well. My to-do list is again larger than ever, and I think this is a very good thing”.
Innovation as a procurement pillar
A selected number of procurers had the chance to share their most pressing needs and issues, presenting multiple challenges on Medical/testing devices, supply chain and logistics management and Biotechnology / Health - Drugs, antimicrobials. Lidia Capparelli, representing CONSIP - the Central Purchasing Body of Italy and Fabrice Bazu from the French Army were two of the procurers joining the session. After the event, Lidia explained that “innovation is a pillar” for CONSIP: “the European Innovation Council looks at the market and tries to support innovative suppliers. And, from our side, it’s a really interesting approach on innovation. We are the Central Purchasing Body and member of the Procure2Innovate project (to build a network of Competence Center on Innovation Procurement) and we want to strengthen innovative solutions able to bring benefits for the society”, explained Lidia.
Fabrice Bazu also mentioned that “innovation is one of the top priorities of French Defense” and that’s the reason why the French Army joined forces with the EIC: “We must find innovative solutions in order to improve the treatments of the patients and the companies pitching here were very interesting. We witnessed the entire scope of what you can offer as a treatment: tests, monitoring, cleaning, transport. I will now try to connect them with the relevant business line within our organization”, he added.
In the coming months the EIC will organise several ePitching with Procurer events, for the moment fully online, with applications running through the EIC Community. Keep your eyes on our calendar for more information.