EIT Health has announced the opening of their ‘Bridgehead’ programme to health start-ups supported by the European Innovation Council (Bridgehead Call for EIC Ventures), in the first rollout of activity for their recently agreed pilot collaboration. Through this partnership, healthcare or life sciences start-ups from both organisations pipelines will get access to greater networks, increased financial opportunities, as well as business acceleration and development services. The collaboration will further allow the most promising start-ups to easily move between selected EIT Health and EIC programmes without delay and therefore find the best support depending on their needs and opportunities. The ‘EIT-EIC CollabPilot’ was funded via Horizon 2020 with one million euros and is coordinated by EIT Health.
The Bridgehead programme, currently in its fourth year, supports start-ups that have proven the viability of their solution in one or more home markets to expand into new international markets. To do this, the programme provides start-ups with financial support and guidance from members of the vetted European network. For example, EIT Health’s world-class accelerators, incubators or clusters advise participating start-ups on feasibility in their intended markets and open the right doors for them to establish and grow cross-border businesses.
Start-ups in the healthcare sector face major challenges in effectively expanding their business internationally in a complex and regulated environment. The healthcare market in Europe is highly fragmented, which means that start-ups cannot easily transfer what has worked well in one market to another, as local regulations, payers and healthcare systems differ greatly. Recent data from McKinsey & Company shows that while Europe produces 36 per cent of all formally funded start-ups, it only produces 14 per cent of the world’s start-ups with a market valuation of more than $1 billion before going public or exiting (unicorns). Funding, expertise, resources and contacts are all critical to the potential success of healthcare start-ups and their ability to scale.