Start-ups Meet Pharma 2021

Start-ups Meet Pharma 2021 is on! Five challenges and five pharma companies ready to work with you!

We are delighted to announce the opening of the application process for Start-ups Meet Pharma 2021. For two years now the challenge-based acceleration programme connects key pharma partners in Europe with start-ups at the forefront of technology innovation. In 2021 we have partnered with five pharma companies, Abbott, Takeda, Merck, Amgen and AstraZeneca, and we now invite start-ups to jointly address the challenges they face with operational products and services.

If you are developing innovative technologies and services representing potential solutions for the selected challenges for 2021, submit your application now!

2021 Challenges

Title: Facilitate patients´ identification/screening in clinical trials

Clinical trials in Oncology/Hematology are competitive and more and more complex. Patients’ identification based on specific criteria/profile is a key element of site feasibility. Current solutions don’t allow to estimate the recruitment’s potential of a list of centers in a timely manner. Centers of excellence or cooperative groups with a large portfolio of clinical trials (academic and industrial) need support through innovative solutions to manage the identification and triaging of patients in defined clinical trials. The ideal solution, therefore, should allow better patients’ identification, higher recruitment and supports data management.

Title: Integrated Care for Chronic Kidney Disease Patients – Focus on early diagnosis and prevention of life-threatening complications.

Chronic Kidney Disease is common but highly under-diagnosed and under-recognized by healthcare providers. There is a need for a holistic approach, starting with risk factors understanding and adequate treatment & disease monitoring. The ideal solution would be an integrated care solution consisting of both system and patient management algorithm & tools, including (a) a digital solution for patients and HCPs to improve early-stage CKD Diagnosis and monitoring or (b) solution/technology to inter-connect all specialties involved in CKD Diagnosis, treatment management and monitoring, to improve kidney health, reduce the demand of kidney transplants and dialysis.

Title: Digital remote monitoring & support solutions for patients living with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. The key focus on the challenge is about digital remote monitoring & support solutions for patients with MS. The solutions would be used for monitoring disease evolution and/or monitoring of the patient’s quality of life and/or support patients to manage symptoms and maintain high adherence to therapies based on orals medication.

Title: Digital and Personalized Health for Adult ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a persistent neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 2.5% of adults worldwide. Health care personnel may perceive diagnosing adult ADHD as a complex and time-consuming task. Digital solutions can offer help for clinical decision making; for example to confirm adult ADHD diagnosis, personalize the treatment with AI, and to set a baseline for outcome-based treatment monitoring. Solutions for this challenge may include, but are not limited to: Gamification, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Machine learning / Artificial Intelligence, Wearables, sensors, Internet of Things to be used for clinical decision-making support, Support for diagnosis, Personalised Treatment, Treatment response monitoring.

Title: Tools for monitoring loss of muscle, strength and/or physical function, to manage sarcopenia and frailty in the elderly 

Age-related loss of muscle mass and strength leads to loss of physical function and consequently, it presents major health and economic burden to society. Currently, there is low awareness of age-related muscle and strength loss due to lack of easy screening/ diagnostic tools. The key focus of the challenge are easy screening/ diagnostic tools that identify people at risk of muscle mass/ strength/ physical function loss that can be easily integrated into a digital system tied to recommendations for treatment/ management to prevent progression to mobility-disability. 

A full description of the challenges is available here.

Programme structure

The program consists of four different modules with the objective to train and prepare startups to discuss collaboration opportunities with pharma companies.

  • Module 1 (17-21/05/2021, Online/Heidelberg): 5 days “Entrepreneurship training”. Startups will receive tailored workshops on different tools and methods to successfully build their business.
  • Module 2 (07-11/06/2021, Online/Heidelberg): 5 days workshops by pharma partners involved in the program on how to collaborate with big players in the market.
  • Module 3 (2-23/07/2021, Online/pharma companies’ premises): Startups will visit selected pharma companies involved in the program to discuss collaboration opportunities.
  • Module 4 (November 2021): Demo Day. Startups pitch in front of pharma company representatives, investors, EIT Health partners, stakeholders.

Who should apply

You should have a company with a validated proof of concept, market validation and prototype that matches one of the challenges released by the pharma companies. Your company must be based in any Horizon Europe country.


Application period: 25 January – 16 March 2021, 23:59 CET via Optimy platform.


Interested start-ups are kindly invited to participate in our upcoming webinars aimed to provide a detailed overview of the programme, its timeline, and the application process.

  • 24 February, 2021 11:00 AM CET (Register here)
  • 9 March, 2021 12:00 PM CET (Register here)

Gold sponsors: