In Europe, we sometimes lack the mentality to show-off our science, our programmes and our company. When building a biotech business, it feels more natural to focus on innovative science and on how to bring drugs to the patient as fast as possible. Yet gaining external visibility is without a doubt crucial to showcase the innovation that is happening right now, to raise awareness among external stakeholders and – ultimately – to connect with investors to finance our journey.
The EIT Health Catapult is one of the best platforms to showcase innovation in Life Sciences and at PhagoMed we are extremely happy that we applied to the Accelerator programme in March 2020. It has been a rewarding journey that spanned three stages of the competition, countless mentor interactions and useful feedback. It also ended on a high note – with PhagoMed winning 2nd place in the BioTech category in the 2020 edition of the EIT Health Catapult.
So how did it all start?
In March 2020 we applied for a spot in the local selection competition for the EIT Health Catapult. We were fortunate enough to be selected as one of just five biotech companies from the German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland) to be part of the (virtual) competition in May 2020. After a few training sessions on presentation skills organised by EIT Health, we were ready to go and pitched our idea in front of a jury of experienced Life Science investors. Just two biotech companies were selected for the European semi-finals and we were extremely glad to secure one of the spots.
Now the real fun – and the real work started. As a European semi-finalist, we were offered a whole series of training sessions, access to world-class mentors and training days where we got to connect with our fellow semi-finalists and a selection of coaches. We also received specific mentoring for the design of our pitch deck and some financial support. When the end of October arrived, we then got to compete in the European BioTech semi-finals. 14 semi-finalists pitched and only 7 made it into the European finals. Again, we were immensely proud that PhagoMed got selected as well as awarded an additional sponsor prize from LallianSe.
Having come so far, we knew it would take an extra push to make it to the top. We hired an external graphic design specialist to upgrade our presentation with some of the financial support provided by EIT Health. Alongside this, we were given additional pitch training and coaching and were ready for the big stage in early December. One final pitch – and three agonizing days to find out the result. In the end, the wait paid off and we won second place as well as €20.000. Winning such a big prize was a fantastic end-of-year reward for the entire team at PhagoMed and we would have loved to celebrate it in style. Obviously, we had to put the party on hold due to the pandemic – but at the first chance, we’ll be opening the champagne bottle with the team.
So – after a year-long competition – what’s our verdict? First of all, a high-impact competition such as EIT Health Catapult really forces you to put your best foot forward. That alone was a great motivator for improving our slide decks, refining our story, and practising our pitch. Secondly, the programme also fostered many new connections, including to investors and our biotech peers. Finally, it serves as great external validation for the strength of the science at PhagoMed and the importance of our vision to bring ground-breaking therapy to patients with chronic bacterial infections. To sum it up: if you have not applied yet for 2021, it’s time you got on it.