Over recent years, the world of health has been affected by the noteworthy digital transformation with a significant impact on the entire health system and its players. The pandemic acted as a great acceleration factor which proved digital in healthcare necessary to offer treatments that are increasingly accessible, integrated and personalized, to maximize the effect of prevention and, finally, to foster new synergies between stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem.
In this context, a fundamental role is played by startups and innovators, who develop solutions that are able to respond effectively to the emerging needs of patients, caregivers and healthcare workers. A new initiative is offering valuable support for the growth and development of digital health startups, as well as sparking open innovation inside the healthcare ecosystem. We are talking about VITA Accelerator, the new accelerator of the National Accelerators Network of CDP Venture Capital, set up together with Healthware Group and Danish accelerator Accelerace.
To learn more about the VITA Accelerator, we interviewed Paolo Borella, Managing Partner and Head of Program of VITA, who brings to the initiative more than twenty years of experience in building acceleration and open innovation programs.
What is the objective and focus areas of VITA Accelerator?
VITA is the first Italian accelerator of the National Accelerators Network of CDP Venture Capital, entirely focused on the digital health vertical. The Program aims to support startups with innovative and scalable solutions in digital health and it also represents an important opportunity to strengthen the Italian digital health ecosystem, ensuring that it becomes a point of reference in the international scene.
It is important to underline that we target not only Italian startups, but all companies in the pre-seed or seed phase that intend to open a registered office in Italy. For the first batch we will select up to 10 startups that will have an exclusive opportunity to collaborate with the Innovation Partner Zcube –Zambon Group’s research venture – and with the Corporate Partners Petrone Group and SIFI. The startups will also get access to the network of over 20 Ecosystem Partners, among which Enpam Foundation, FADOI, Panakès Partners, Italian Tech Alliance and Healthware Ventures.
How can a startup access the Program and what are the benefits be for the selected startups?
Our Accelerator will have 1 batch per year over 3 years, and we will be accelerating up to 10 startups per batch. In order to take part in the first cohort of VITA you just need to apply on the website by 12 June 2022.
The first batch will start on July 18 and will last 5 months. Each team will be able to strengthen their business thanks to the lectures, workshops and one-to-one sessions with the best experts in the sector. And, as mentioned before, selected startups will also have the opportunity to work on our Partners’ Innovation Challenges by developing POCs (proof-of-concepts).
As part of the program, the startups will be able to reside at Palazzo Innovazione, the Italian headquarters of Healthware Group in Salerno, and at the OpenZone satellite hub, Zambon campus near Milan (Bresso). Onsite sessions will be combined with the online one sas we believe that the hybrid format offers a good balance between in-person interaction and having time to actually work on the defined goals.
An important factor, that I consider strategic for the startup growth, is being in the midst of exchange of knowledge and experience. I am thinking, for example, of the exchange of know-how between startups and partner companies, but also of the one between mentors and startups and – why not? – also between the teams. These open innovation processes, emerging within the frames of the Program, will stimulate new synergies and collaborations that I hope will continue beyond our Accelerator.
Another great opportunity for all selected startups is the investment of € 110K (of which € 50K in cash) with the possibility of the follow-on investments of up to € 2M. These investments will, in general, will accelerate the digitalization of the health system, that we hope will benefit from the innovative services and products that will be developed.
The first batch will end in November of this year, and everyone is welcome to meet the Partners, the startups and learn about the results achieved at the Demo Day organized on the occasion of the Frontiers Health conference on October 20-21st.
How can VITA Accelerator contribute to the growth of the Italian digital health ecosystem?
For many years I have lived between Italy and Finland, where I have actively contributed to the local startup scene by founding Vertical, a company specialized in open innovation, as well by being active as a mentors and expert in various programs, including Startup Sauna or holding the role of Director of AppCampus, an accelerator funded by Nokia, Microsoft and Aalto University. Finland and Italy are very different countries and undoubtedly the former is known for being among the most innovative hubs in Europe.
However, the Italian ecosystem obviously has a great potential and is capable of attracting not only startups but also international investors. Over the years I have worked in sectors with a high technological impact, but I believe that today the health sector has, more than ever, a strategic importance and this has prompted me to return to Italy and to invest my expertise in VITA Accelerator. Together with CDP Venture Capital, Healthware Group, Accelerace and all the other partners, we will support the most promising companies to ensure that they are ready for the challenges of the market and, at the same time, we will create synergies with the main stakeholders in the sector to give a strong boost to the digital health ecosystem.
Article originally written in Italian and posted on www.digitalhealthitalia.com by Giovanna D'Urso, Marketing & Communications Manager at Healthware Group.