Health Tech Accelerators and Incubators in Europe – Top 10

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Incubators and accelerators can provide investment and guidance to early-stage health tech entrepreneurs interested in growing their startup companies. These are the top 10 European startup support programmes in the area of digital health, guest written by Morgana Moretti, Ph.D. – Freelance biomedical scientist and medical writer on Kolabtree

Health tech companies are exploiting a powerful range of technologies to create solutions that benefit patients and providers. According to a report released by Dealroom, Inkef Capital and MTIP, the combined value of European health techs has grown from $8bn to $41bn from 2016 to 2021. Although investments in digital health are rising to new heights, many companies do not have the resources to translate their innovative ideas into viable businesses. Fortunately, incubators and accelerators can assist health tech startups in the first stages of operations.

Often used interchangeably, incubators and accelerators serve different purposes. Incubators primarily focus on refining the idea of early-stage startups or solo founders to build out a business model. They offer access to mentors, office space, and legal counsel. Moreover, incubators provide networking opportunities with fellow founders and professionals with considerable financial resources and expertise, helping to foster the incubatees’ long-term success. Incubators operate flexibly (usually six months to 5 years), ending when a business has a service or product to pitch to investors or consumers.

Accelerators focus on scaling a business. They provide startups that already have minimum viable products (MVPs) with mentorship, supply chain resources, and investment in return for equity. Accelerator programmes are designed to grow a business quickly. They are usually immersive, taking 3-6 months to get an early-stage startup ready for market.

This special guide features the most important support programmes for health tech startups in Europe.

BAYER G4A

Location: Berlin, Germany

Programme duration: 4 months

Purpose and benefits: With 150+ years of experience within the life sciences industry, Bayer runs the G4A Programme, a startup accelerator supporting digital health entrepreneurs to prototype and scale their businesses. The programme has two segments, Growth and Advance. The Growth Track programme is for early-stage startups with an MVP with ongoing validation or published findings. The Advance Track programme is tailored for mature companies who already have a product in the market. The Bayer G4A programme covers the entire value chain of startups, from idea to commercial implementation. Benefits include free co-working space for about 100 days on Bayer campuses, mentoring from industry leaders, networking opportunities, and funding up to €100,000. Since 2013, Bayer has supported over 150 digital health companies, resulting in more than 30 direct collaborations.

Successful Alumni include Okko Health, a health tech startup developing digital eye biomarkers intended to track visual interactions with smart devices, and Chorus Health, which develops and provides application software for specialised women’s care.

 

STARTUPBOOTCAMP DIGITAL HEALTH BERLIN

Location: Berlin, Germany

Programme duration: 3 months

Purpose and benefits: The Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin is supported by healthcare industry leaders, including Sanofi, Munich Re, Berlin Institute of Health, Deutsche Apotheker und Ärztebank, Vilua and legal support via Dentons. Selected startups collaborate with 150+ mentors, partners, and investors to scale their health tech businesses. With more than 500 applications per year, participants benefit from €15,000 in cash to cover living expenses during the programme, free office space, and more than €700,000 in exclusive partner deals from leading technology providers such as Amazon, HubSpot, SendGrid, and others.

Startupbootcamp digital health has accelerated companies such as BOCA-Health, which developed a portable device that measures the hydration status of patients suffering from body water imbalances. Another Alumni is Goodsomnia, a company offering a stop-snoring device and software solution to detect, analyse and treat snoring with full electroencephalogram (EEG) screening.

 

MERCK’S INNOVATION ACCELERATOR

Location: Darmstadt, Germany

Programme duration: 3 months

Purpose and benefits: From more than 500 applicants each year, Merck’s Innovation Accelerator selects young science and technology companies covering one of Merck’s strategic focus areas: bio-sensing and interfaces, liquid biopsy, clean meat, or artificial intelligence-enabled health solutions. Over the course of three months, selected teams receive individual support and coaching from experts within the Merck global network and up to €50,000 in funding. Teams also have the opportunity to join the Merck China Innovation Hub in Shanghai for an extension of the programme.

Alumni include Syrona Health, a personalised digital health platform for chronic gynaecological and uterine conditions, and Sophie Bot, an artificial intelligence chatbot driving conversations on sexual health.

 

FLYING HEALTH

Location: Berlin, Germany

Programme duration: 2 years

Purpose and benefits: Flying Health was launched in 2016 as the leading ecosystem for next-generation healthcare. The two-year Incubator programme focuses on market access for digital health products. It guides industry leaders and entrepreneurs and provides health tech startups an exclusive environment to enable fruitful partnerships and market access to digital diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Flying Health’s goal is to support startups through their expertise, network, and experience.

Flying Health has incubated Kaia Health, which offers digital programs to help people with chronic musculoskeletal pain, and Clue, a period & cycle tracking app.

 

DIGITALHEALTH.LONDON

Location: London,  United Kingdom

Programme duration: 1 year

Purpose and benefits: The DigitalHealth.London health tech accelerator aims to speed up digital transformation in London’s National Health Service (NHS), relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health. The programme works with up to 20 high potential small and medium-sized businesses over 12 months, offering bespoke support and advice, expert-led workshops and events, and brokering connections between innovators and NHS organisations with specific challenges. DigitalHealth.London connects companies to relevant funding opportunities but does not provide or guarantee direct funding. They do not invest in companies or take any equity. Since 2016, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator has supported 122 digital health companies;  87% of businesses demonstrated growth whilst on the programme.

Successful Alumni include Infinity Health, a digital platform on which staff can log, share and coordinate their tasks in real-time. DigitalHealth.London has also accelerated Babylon Health, a digital and virtual health care provider that combines artificial intelligence with human medical expertise to connect patients and doctors.

 

OPEN ACCELERATOR

Location: Milan, Italy

Programme duration: 3 months

Purpose and benefits: Created in 2016 and sponsored by ZCube, a Zambon’s Research Venture company, Open Accelerator is a programme dedicated to digital solutions adopting cutting-edge technologies, including wearables, biomarkers, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence. Participants have access to an international network of entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, venture capitalists, and professionals. At the end of the acceleration programme, the best projects can receive a milestone-based seed investment of up to €100,000 per project and €25,000 in services.

Participating companies include Caura (formerly known as CortiCare), which aims to build a portable and smart device for hormonal testing, and Biorek, which is developing a kit for the diagnosis and prognosis of kidney cancer with just a liquid biopsy.

 

HEALTH2B

Location: Lund, Sweden

Programme duration: 10 weeks

Purpose and benefits: Health2B is an entirely virtual health tech accelerator that supports early-stage startups working within digital health, mobile health, e-health, internet of things, wearables, lifelog, biohacking, or quantified self. The programme is open to startups from anywhere in the world and selects eight companies each year. Over ten weeks, participants verify their business idea with access to mentors, industry experts, and personalised 1:1 coaching. The value of support and coaching is over €40,000. With 40 Alumni companies in six batches, the programme is entirely free, and companies keep 100% of the equity.

Startups admitted to the accelerator include Neki, a GPS tool for older patients with dementia, and Luxheal, a virtual coach for personalised support for myocardial infarction patients.

 

ROCKSTART HEALTH

Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands

Programme duration: 1 year

Purpose and benefits: Launched in 2011, Rockstart Health is a health tech accelerator that focuses on market-validated companies in the health sector. The programme provides startups with access to capital, market, and expertise by connecting them to partners, investors, and mentors. Rockstart Health also creates customised programmes to boost collaboration between startups and corporates, driving faster access to co-creation, commercial partnerships, and investment. Startups accepted to the Rockstart Health Programme receive €20,000 plus €75,000 in-kind investment in exchange for 6% equity via a convertible loan. Since its inception, Rockstart has invested in more than 200 startups and supported them in their journey to raise more than €89 million and hire more than 700 people.

Alumni include BrainTrip, an EEG-based algorithm for detecting early-stage dementia, and Cardiomo, a cardiac monitor for remote patient monitoring.

 

ACCELERACE MEDTECH HEALTH CARE

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Programme duration: 5 months

Purpose and benefits: The Accelerace Medtech Health Care is an equity-free programme that helps the most promising Danish startups gear up for rapid scaling and investment. Benefits include extensive 1:1 training and mentoring from Danish biotech ecosystem experts, business community, and international experts. Selected startups also have unique access to funding through the network of leading investors, investor programmes, or Accelerace’s own fund. Accelerace has invested in more than 69 startups who have been through the Accelerace programme and have started partnerships with Maersk, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Arla, Foss, NRGI, Business Lolland-Falster, Bang & Olufsen, SE, Endesa & Enel. The programme accepts applications continuously throughout the year.

Participating companies include Biogenity, a data-driven biotech company that offers a wide range of services for proteomic research, and EvoPlexus Medics, which focuses on precision medicine and individualised healthcare using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

 

HEALTH VENTURE LAB

Location: Budapest, Hungary

Programme duration: 6 months

Purpose and benefits: Headquartered in Budapest, Health Venture Lab is an international network of healthcare innovation stakeholders backed by GE Healthcare. Through the Reactor 2021 programme, participants tap into the expertise of industrial and academic partners and gain insight into the commercialisation and development of their products. Four intensive remote Sprints paired with mentorship over a  6-month acceleration programme offer teams extensive training and the expertise they need to commercialise their product or service. Health Venture Lab does not take equity stakes in cohorts’ businesses and does not fund startups. They concentrate on providing tailored mentorship, education, and training to help further grow startups and scale their technology.

Successful Alumni include Xvision, which uses artificial intelligence to automate radiography analysis, and Vitadio, a web and mobile solution that supports type 2 diabetes patients with personalised digital therapeutics.

 


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PhD in Biochemistry and Masters in Science Health. Freelance biomedical scientist and medical writer on Kolabtree

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