EIT Health Germany Blog

The Mentoring & Coaching Network: a Triple Win for Counsellors, Start-ups and EIT Health – Freimut Schliess

The EIT Health Mentoring & Coaching Network (MCN) is a curated, quality assured matchmaking platform bringing start-ups and external experts together. The EIT Health MCN team carefully checks both the track record and the motivation of a potential mentor and coach. I experienced this right before I was elected to the MCN team of Mentors and Coaches.

I have been doing academic medical research in the field of molecular medicine for almost 20 years. By training, I am a graduate chemist specialized in biochemistry and molecular biology. I found and still find it more than fascinating to learn about the diversity of insulin action and the molecular pathways underlying insulin resistance. At the same time, I enjoy teaching in a way that in addition to imparting specialised knowledge, also integrates meta topics like how to conduct science and pursue one’s personal and professional development.

Since 2008, I have been working for a clinical Contract Research Organisation (CRO) focused on the design and implementation of early phase pivotal clinical trials in diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. In a CRO, you get in touch with a high diversity of customers, which is an exciting experience as it allows you to work with people from all over the world and to get involved in their path of bringing new innovative products and services to patients.

From my professional background, I would consider myself a bridge-builder who is familiar with both university and industrial research eco-systems. There are both differences and complementarities between basic scientific and market-oriented approaches to innovation, and it is important to recognise the opportunities as well as the pitfalls of translational research. Being part of the MCN is a win-win opportunity, where I have the chance to contribute with my experience and learn during the Mentoring & Coaching sessions. In addition, the MCN is also a great enrichment for EIT Health.

Therefore, sharing my thoughts and experiences through the MCN, I consider it a triple win.


A win for the counsellor

What I particularly like: Every Mentoring & Coaching constellation is refreshingly different. The development status of the companies varies. Sometimes I am talking to the CEO only; in other cases, I meet the entire team. Each start-up has its own needs, and the diversity of counselling topics is pretty wide. Previous counselling topics included the competitive landscape and country-specific market opportunities, the setup of a clinical trial or even a clinical development programme. Also, team development, dealing with regulatory requirements and authorities, and the selection of partners and investors who are suitable for the company.

I really appreciate that EIT Health takes care of a good fit between the counsellor and the start-up seeking advice. This makes the interaction between counsellor and start-up very efficient. The EIT Health MCN team provides pretty good tools for the formulation of clear target agreements and timetables before the start of the consultations. EIT Health also monitors the outcome of the consultation process. All of this has helped us so far to stay focused, to quickly identify priority fields of counselling and to, ultimately, come up with actionable outcomes.

So far, it was a lot of fun to work with the ambitious and highly committed people from the start-ups and scale-ups I had the honour of advising. I am happy to be able to contribute to their development in increasingly complex marketing conditions. I have developed a great deal of respect for the high dedication of these (mostly young) people making their personal contribution to establishing the healthcare of the future and, more generally speaking, to solve the big questions of the future in Europe and globally.


A win for the start-up

As a start-up striving for an EIT Health-moderated Mentoring & Coaching you have usually already gone through parts of the EIT Health Accelerator programme. Sometimes the Mentoring & Coaching is a prize awarded for the successful mastering of a challenge.

Because of this process, the specific needs and requirements of your company are well known by the respective EIT Health Accelerator team, making it easier to find MCN counsellors that fit well with your goals and needs. Nevertheless, the start-ups have a free choice of pre-qualified counsellors with different professions and qualification profiles. The MCN panel of Mentors & Coaches is presented to the start-ups in a nicely structured searchable database. Start-ups have the opportunity to get to know different counsellors through a few exploratory sessions. Such well-curated matchmaking helps companies to find the right counsellor for them with a high hit rate.

After the conclusion of the MCN counselling, depending on the outcome and the experience of the working relationship, parties sometimes decide to stay in touch with each other and to continue to work together for the development and the growth of the advised company.


A win for EIT Health

The EIT Health Knowledge & Innovation Community is an EU-funded public-private partnership agreed to “deliver solutions for high-performance healthcare systems, healthier citizens and a sustainable health economy in Europe” [1]. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to develop a partnership beyond the narrower circle of about 150 partners. This includes the creation of an EIT Health-supported start-up portfolio, following the aim of making them eligible for Series B and C funding and ultimately developing highly competitive best-of-the-best companies with global reach.

Having a well-coordinated international consulting team available is a major asset for achieving this purpose. In fact, EIT Health has a counselling network at hand that, as a team, is familiar with all facets of BioTech, MedTech and Digital Health, not only in Europe but also in the US, Latin America, Africa, and many other markets in the world. In a sense, each counsellor can act as a multiplier inasmuch she or he connects the advised people to her/his own network.


Prof. Dr. Freimut Schliess is the Director Science & Innovation at Profil Institute for Metabolic Research GmbH [2]. Freimut Schliess coordinates the pan-European EIT Health initiatives CLOSE (Automated glucose control at home for people with chronic disease) [3] and RealWorld4Clinic (Real-World Cardio-Respiratory Health Monitoring for Clinical Contract Research & Telecardiology) [4]. He is also a member of the Supervisory Board of the EIT Health Germany GmbH [5].