A Startup Competition Like No Other: The Startup Slam at BIO Europe 2018!

“The Startup Slam provides an excellent opportunity for early stage companies to gain exposure to an international audience of potential partners and investors,” says Kari Bennett, Vice President of Marketing at EBD Group.

Together with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, EBD Group hosted the Startup Slam at BIO-Europe® 2018, which took place in Copenhagen in November. The largest biotech event in Europe saw more than 2,300 companies represented and over 4,300 attendees from 60 countries.

Since its launch in 2016 at BIO-Europe® Spring in Stockholm, the Startup Slam has had five editions. Young companies are given a unique opportunity to pitch their idea to an expert jury and a large audience consisting of representatives of the life sciences industry, potential partners, and investors.

Eight applicants pitched their companies at BIO Europe 2018

Applications for the Startup Slam at BIO-Europe® 2018 in Copenhagen skyrocketed, with over 60 applications – the largest number received to date. In the end, only eight companies were selected to participate in the pitching competition: Abarceo Pharma, Braizon Therapeutics, Cambridge Cancer Genomics, Hoba Therapeutics, Kutanios Ltd, Mindpax GmbH, reVision Therapeutics and SunRegen Healthcare AG.

These young companies are working on a wide range of exciting applications, including protein targeting to treat diabetes type 2; CNS drug delivery systems; the use of AI and next generation sequencing to cure cancer; the treatment of neurological disorders; the development of anti-aging skincare products; creating algorithms to monitor patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; as well as the creation of treatments for ophthalmologic diseases.

And the winners of the 2018 Startup Slam are…

BIO-Europe, SunRegen Therapeutics, EBD Group, Startup Slam, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Yuhong Dong, Director and Co-founder of SunRegen Healthcare, pitching at the Startup Slam at BIO-Europe 2018 in Copenhagen

The judges were impressed by the extremely high quality of the pitching companies. “There was lots of energy in the room, a lovely atmosphere and great companies presenting on stage,” recalls judge Ingrid Teigland Akay, Managing Partner at Hadean Ventures.

Focusing on innovative treatments for patients suffering from ophthalmic, neurological and neuromuscular diseases, Swiss startup SunRegen Healthcare was chosen as the winner of the 2018 Startup Slam. “I feel this is an exciting program. I learned a lot,” says Yuhong Dong, Director and Co-founder of SunRegen Healthcare. “It’s really an unforgettable event for me.”

As the winner of the Startup Slam, SunRegen Healthcare will gain access to a top-tier mentoring program led by experts at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, as well as publicity through press releases, media coverage and social media promotion, and a complimentary registration to BIO-Europe Spring® 2019 with a value over €2000.

Audience Choice

BIO-Europe, SunRegen Therapeutics, EBD Group, Startup Slam, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, reVision

Paul Fehlner, President and CEO of reVision Therapeutics, pitching at the 2018 Startup Slam

New to the 2018 Startup Slam was the Audience Choice award, voted for by the attendees at the event, which includes publicity for the victorious company through press releases, media coverage and social media promotion. The winner of this prize was selected by the BIO-Europe® attendees and named as San Diego-based startup reVision Therapeutics.

The team at reVision Therapeutics are focusing on the treatment of ophthalmic disorders, and are reducing the time and costs of drug development by repurposing drugs that have been approved or  rescuing those that have been shelved.

Paul Fehlner, President and CEO of reVision Therapeutics says about the Startup Slam: “It’s a great opportunity to be sure you hone your message. It’s also a good chance to meet other people in the same boat, trying to raise money and trying to succeed. I learned that I could do it and that there are great teams out there.”

Preparing the shortlisted companies for their pitch

BIO-Europe, SunRegen Therapeutics, EBD Group, Startup Slam, Johnson & Johnson Innovation

The judges at the Startup Slam at BIO-Europe 2018 in Copenhagen

Before BIO-Europe®, the shortlisted companies had the opportunity to participate in a webinar that helped them prepare their pitch for BIO-Europe® and supported them with presentation skills training. “They help you develop and coach you on how to pitch,” Dong recalls. “It’s really an excellent experience. I think we should do that more!”

Guenter Huhle, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS EMEA and member of the Startup Slam judging panel, adds: “We also offer all of these companies individual interactions to discuss how we can help them in further developing their company, but also their projects. These exercises are important because there will come the time where they present themselves in very important interactions, maybe one-to-one with investors.”

Whether a winner or not, one thing is certain: participating in the Startup Slam at BIO-Europe® provides young companies with exposure, introduces them to the VIPs of European biotech, and allows them to find potential partners and investors. 

Planning the year ahead? Why not add BIO Europe Spring to your calendar and visit Vienna from March 25-29, 2019? Sign up now!


Images via EBD Group & Title Image from Twitter by Johnson & Johnson Innovation


Author: Larissa Warneck, Science Journalist at Labiotech.eu

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