14 May 2019

Startup Challenge 2019

Skolkovo and AstraZeneca have launched the Startup Challenge 2019 accelerator

Mikhail Baklanov, sk.ru

The Skolkovo Foundation and the international biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca have announced the launch of a new accelerator for projects in the field of oncology, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic and kidney diseases, respiratory diseases. The partner of the acceleration program was Primer Capital, the leading Russian seed venture fund in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.


The purpose of the accelerator is to search for promising ideas and innovative solutions in the field of oncology, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic and kidney diseases, respiratory diseases, as well as solving specific problems and issues of modern medicine, including in relation to practical healthcare. The nominations also include the development of solutions in the field of digital medicine.

"The development of scientific potential and high–tech technologies is a key condition for stimulating innovation in the pharmaceutical industry," says Kira Blong, Medical Director of AstraZeneca, Russia and Eurasia. – We believe in Russian science, and that is why we decided to continue the search for young and promising Russian teams to implement progressive scientific discoveries.  The Startup Challenge project is designed to help ambitious scientists contribute to the development of Russian healthcare, who, with the support of the scientific community and market experts, can change the approach to the treatment and diagnosis of life-threatening diseases. I am sure that this year we will see breakthrough ideas and solutions that will increase the prestige of Russian science and change the lives of millions of patients."

Teams that have developed diagnostic tests, medicines, treatment technologies, biomedical cell products, medical devices and digital solutions in the field of healthcare are invited to participate in the acceleration program.

You can apply for participation in the competitive selection until August 14, 2019. 

The finalists of the project will be determined at the end of August. The winners will get into a training camp, and they will also be offered an individual comprehensive plan for the development of the project – mentoring support from AstraZeneca experts, individual support from the project manager of the Skolkovo Foundation, development of competencies in accordance with the specifics of the project, as well as an acceleration program for the development of business competencies of startups from Russian and international experts. In addition, the winners of the selection in each nomination will be able to apply for a mini-grant from the Skolkovo Foundation in the amount of up to 5 million rubles.

The acceleration program will last until December. At the end of the year, the winners will speak to experts and investors who will choose startups for possible further support.

Within the framework of the project, AstraZeneca experts will identify priority areas for the selection and mentoring support of startups and will participate in educational courses and initiatives.

The Skolkovo Foundation will become a platform for the competitive selection of projects, organizes educational and mentoring sessions for finalists and winners. Mentors and experts will include representatives of the Foundation, employees of AstraZeneca and members of the competition jury, who will provide advice and expert support to the winners of the program.

The participating projects will also be evaluated according to due diligence criteria in the framework of a separate partner nomination from Primer Capital "For contribution to a healthy future".

"AstraZeneca-Skolkovo Startup Challenge has already managed to prove its effectiveness – thanks to the accelerator, it is possible to find and develop the brightest projects in the field of biomedicine," says Kamila Zarubina, director of acceleration of the Skolkovo cluster of biological and medical technologies. – Last year's participants made significant progress in their developments, became active participants in the Skolkovo ecosystem and continue scientific cooperation with AstraZeneca. We expect that the accelerator participants will again offer interesting and promising projects this year, and our accelerator will help them move to a new level."

The Skolkovo Foundation and AstraZeneca announced for the first time the launch of a strategic partnership in research and educational activities in 2017. The winners of the first joint acceleration program Startup Challenge 2018 were startups Moltech LLC, CRYSTA, M-Discovery, Brain Beat LLC, Microneedle Industrial LLC and Pamdeca. They presented solutions in the categories "Medicines and biomedical cell products" and "Test systems, hardware solutions and drug delivery devices".

According to Elizaveta Rozhdestvenskaya, Executive director of the Primer Capital Foundation, the AstraZeneca-Skolkovo acceleration program is "a unique platform for the presentation and evaluation of innovative and high–tech projects in the field of medicine; we fully support the policy of AstraZeneca with a course for the development of research activities," she says.

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