11 questions about the first Ukrainian biomedical startups competition

11 питань про перший український конкурс біомедичних стартапів

Alla Oliinyk is answering the most frequently asked questions about MBioS Challenge.

Acceptance of applications for the participation in the first Ukrainian competition of biomedical startups MBioS Challenge is now in full swing. However, there is not much time to spare before the deadline – March 23.

Competition organized by Innovation House and Borsch Ventures has generated considerable attention and has enlisted the support of Ministry of Health of Ukraine, Innovation Development Council, The American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, Axon Partners, UkrMedCert, etc. Alla Oliinyk, Adviser to the Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, Coordinator at Innovation Development Council under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and Partner at Borsch Ventures fund has kindly agreed to answer the most frequently asked questions about MBioS Challenge.

Why did you decide to hold competition expressly for medical and biological projects? After all, the scope of interests and activities of both Borsch Ventures and Innovation House – widespread application of technologies.

– World-wide market of innovative technological products in medicine, pharma, and biology is the fastest-growing and is estimated at trillions of dollars. In the next 10-15 years, humanity will evidence the biggest scientific breakthroughs over its history of existence in these very fields. Ukrainian developments in this field are unknown to the world. And that’s not forgetting the fact that Ukrainian developers of IT systems, engineers, blockchain experts hit the top 3 of the world and lead the way. Ukrainians work in the vast majority of world’s best laboratories. We want to change the state of things and create a set of tools for this. MbioS Challenge is one of such tools. It was designed to grant access to Ukrainian startups in the field of medicine, pharma and biology to the global markets and investments and to provide knowledge, awareness of innovation development market, especially at the very early activity stages. This will substantially contribute to the teams while shaping proper strategy for the establishment of company, product positioning, attraction of investment, access to global market.

What are the goals of competition holders?

– This competition has two key objectives. The first one is to draw attention of entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, core agencies, general public to emerging technologies used in medicine and biology. The second one is to render specific assistance in development and funding of teams that are already at the development stage.

What types of startups do you expect?

– Projects that use IT, blockchain, telemedicine, digital health, engineering solutions for medical equipment, elements of personalized medicine represented by various devices that monitor chronic conditions, coordinate the interaction of doctor and patient; application of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, big data, etc. This may be some product of business model with an innovative approach.

Who may participate in the competition?

– Any citizen of Ukraine 18 years of age and above or any company that implements its idea in the field of medicine, biology, pharmaceutical industry, and healthcare upon submission of application. So, in other words, project team shall understand what problem in the field of medicine, healthcare, biology, or pharma it is dealing with by application some technology and who is in need of this solution.

– What if there is a team, there is an idea, but there is no money to create prototype (working model)?

– All world’s discoveries have begun with an idea. But, indeed, as a general rule, competitions makes provision for the participation of teams at some later development stages when there is ready-made working model, even an experimental one. The majority of ideas fade with no implementation at all. In our actual Ukrainian living conditions, in addition to natural processes, startup with brilliant idea is short of development options due to virtually non-existent tools – incubators, angelic investments (minimum of resources to determine whether idea is viable), the most basic knowledge of what shall be done with the idea to promote its development to the stage of model, prototype, etc. Our competition will provide necessary expertise, knowledge, and contacts for the winners of this category. There will be three of them.

– What if there is some prototype and understanding that at least $100,000 is needed for the development of the company? May the competition be of any assistance in this case?

– Our competition is particularly useful for this category as well as for the category of companies with already working business model, since efforts made by jury members and by invited international experts will ensure not only real project assessment under various dimensions – from legal, financial, technological to market analysis and business models, – and road map for further step towards the search for seed investment. Moreover, finalists will get access to field-specific venture capital investors depending on the profile of startup-finalist and will visit the R&D Centre of global leader.

– What prizes will the winners receive?

– Finalists will get prizes depending on their competition category. There are three categories as follows: idea, prototype, viable model. Detailed information is available here.

– What are the advantages of MBioS Challenge over world-renowned acceleration competitions – Y Combinator, California, for instance?

– This is a flawed comparison by definition. Resources of any local competition and world-renowned accelerator are incomparable. Practice, however, has demonstrated that it is of prime importance for the teams to gain experience in self-presentation, communication both with investors and experts for a better understanding of own product and ways to promote it. In this regard, competitions are the excellent pilot site to get independent expert assessment, to gain some experience, and to obtain the possibility to be engaged in the broad dialogue with all stakeholders at the same time – mentors, R&D Centres to investors. This is a chance to strongly improve yourself for free and within a short period of time.

– What is the role of competition partner – Ukrainian Medical Association of the United Kingdom (UMAUK)?

– This partner provides access to Medicine and Innovation UMAUK Annual Conference. This year it will be held in London on May, 12. Finalists will introduce their projects to British venture capital investors and experts.

– Will the competition be annual?

– Competition has already aroused great interest. We have many applications from potential partners, inclusive of foreign venture capital funds and corporations. There are some ideas of how to ​​expand this competition and who to hold it annually. I think it will be so. Perhaps, this competition will be morphed into specialized biotech, medtech or digital health directions. We will talk about this upon the end of competition.

– What does this competition mean for Ukraine and for the development of innovative ecosystem in medical industry?

– This is the first small, but very important step towards professional dialogue initiation at the state level about innovation development ecosystem creation and technological innovation support in the field of medicine, biology, and healthcare. Ukrainian entrepreneurs may and shall become global innovation participants. The goal of medical and biological ecosystem is to be filled with best practice tools of international standard to develop young companies from Ukraine. Innovation Development Council and Directorate of the Ministry of Health for Innovation and Science have already started working on this. These processes are slow, but necessary. We, of all people, shall establish them and fill will topical meanings!