Bioupper 4: the startup Medere wins Silicon Valley

Medere is the winning startup of the fourth edition of Bioupper, the first Italian program of empowerment, acceleration and support to the market in the field of Life Sciences, promoted by Novartis and Fondazione Cariplo with the participation of IBM and the collaboration of Cariplo Factory. Bioupper, the first Italian platform dedicated to Life Sciences, has been supporting the best entrepreneurial projects for five years, focusing at the maximum on digital health: a fundamental branch of the health sector, absolutely essential at this historic moment when technology has come to the rescue in all fields.

Today the final of Bioupper was held in the form of “phygital”, crowning the Business Bootcamp, the three-month entrepreneurial support program. In fact, the 10 finalist startups – offering advanced solutions including high tech platforms, artificial intelligence and big data – have benefited in recent months from a customized and modular activity, managed by the project partners (Novartis, IBM, Cariplo Factory and Comin & Partners) each for their own area of expertise, in order to strengthen the skills of the teams and support them in preparing for the final. In addition, they have benefited from loans granted by IBM – up to a maximum of 120 thousand euros in 12 months – spendable for the use of the most innovative technological tools. In addition to the winners team, we report the other 9 startups that arrived in the final: Aptus.AI, Dianax, Hero, Intra, Nuvap, Pain Chronicles, Sensedat, U-care and Ugo Pnp.

This year the Call for Startup was crossed by a pandemic and the related crisis, events that confirmed the premise from which the project starts: Digital Health is a strategic lever for the efficiency of our Health System and for the economic growth of the country. Below are some data that can help to provide a picture of the current situation in the field of “health”. Due to the risk of infection by coronavirus, 55% of Italians are afraid to go to emergency departments, 45% fear visit by specialists who work in hospitals and 43% do not want to go to the general practitioner (survey of Incisive Health-Censuswide, 2020). A major problem that can lead to an increase in mortality. For example, deaths from heart attacks in Italy tripled during the lockdown (according to the latest data from the Italian Society of Cardiology, 2020).

Digital medicine, which is a systemic and strategic 4.0 approach to prevention, early diagnosis, assistance and follow-up, through innovation and technology, is an indispensable element to intervene in this context and to enable the National Health System to face, and prevent, new challenges. It is also an expanding sector that offers entrepreneurial opportunities and can contribute to the economic growth of the country. In the United States, digital health received investments of 7.1 billion dollars in 2019 and also in Italy, in 2020, an increase in expenditure is expected (according to data from the Digital Innovation in Health Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, 2020, experiments on tele-monitoring have already increased by 37% and on tele-visits by 35%).

The Government has, in fact, included in the draft of the National Reform Program (NRP) directions about the measures in support of the National Health Service. The measures are to be implemented through an investment plan to improve the quality of care, the receptive capacity of hospitals, and the timeliness of emergency response. The NRP estimates that there is a need for an investment of EUR 32 billion for modernisation of health infrastructure and technology.

“Digital Health is an opportunity not only for the sector but for the recovery of the country’s economy. Now more than ever, greater planning and synergies are needed to implement treatment models based on digital health, where artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data-driven approaches can significantly increase the predictive, management and resource allocation ability. Novartis is at the forefront of supporting recovery by investing in innovation and talent, and Bioupper is the expression of this commitment. That’s why we are proud of this year’s edition that contributes with many good projects that can become businesses. Congratulations to the 10 finalists, especially to Medere!” declared Pasquale Frega, Country President and CEO of Novartis Farma.

Today, after the pitches of the 10 startups still competing, all already winners of the three-month training course offered by the partners of the initiative, the jury of Bioupper 4 has selected Medere as first ranked.

Medere, a startup founded in Rome by three biomedical engineers in 2018, has developed an innovative process of custom-made plantar production. The data useful to the realization are acquired with an app and elaborated in automatic exploiting a system of Artificial Intelligence for the preliminary diagnostic screening, developed in collaboration with IBM during the Bioupper project, and a geometries reconstruction system based on SFM (Structure From Motion) algorithms. The model is then 3D printed. During the Bioupper program, Medere analyzed the feasibility of integrating sensors in the plantars to develop a product for therapeutic monitoring in everyday life. The idea has been awarded by the Ministry of Economic Development and is proceeding thanks to the support of Novartis.

Medere, having distinguished itself with its solution for the ability to integrate with the therapeutic areas of Novartis and with the technology of IBM, has been awarded the final prize, therefore will have access to the network of relations in Silicon Valley made available by Novartis, IBM and Cariplo, through “Novartis Biome” and other international networks of incubators that identify and support the development of highly innovative biomedical startups. In this way, the winning startup will benefit from an important networking opportunity, as well as the possibility of exposure to international markets (such as the UK, Israel and others) which will culminate in a trip to Silicon Valley to be held by June 2021.

“The most advanced technologies have enabled us to deal with the first phase of the pandemic. Now is the time to make use of what we learned and accelerate the digital transformation that the country needs to overcome this social, economic and health crisis,” said Enrico Cereda, President and CEO of IBM Italia. “Startups have a fundamental role in developing professional skills and innovative skills with the aim of supporting those who take care of our health. As IBM we are proud to support their growth process by providing cutting-edge technology tools and solutions”.

“The Covid-19 emergency has made even more urgent and evident the need to stimulate innovative ideas and startups in the field of Life Sciences, the goal that five years ago led us to build the Bioupper platform. This year’s 117 nominations and the quality of the 10 finalist projects, able to seize the opportunities of digital transformation and enabling technologies, make us proud of the path taken so far. And, above all, they make us look with confidence to the increasingly complex and global challenges that await us in the future,” said Carlo Mango, Managing Director of Cariplo Factory and Director of the Scientific Research and Technology Area of Fondazione Cariplo. 

Below, in alphabetical order, the jury members who decreed the verdict: Antonio Barone, Head of the Regional Welfare Services Division of ARIA s.p.a., Luca Cinquepalmi, Director of Innovation, Planning, Organization and Control of the E.N.P.A.M. Foundation, Pasquale Frega, Country President and AD Novartis Farma, Carlo Mango, Managing Director Cariplo Factory and Director of the Scientific and Technological Area of Fondazione Cariplo, Gianna Martinengo, Founder Didael KTS and creator of Women&Tech, Nando Minnella, General Manager National Institute of Nuclear Physics and member of Human Technopole Management Committee, Gaia Panina, Chief Scientific Officer Novartis Farma, Riccardo Porro, Chief Operating Officer Cariplo Factory, Daniela Scaramuccia, Director of Health & Life Science IBM Italia, Roberto Tiezzi, Head of the Technology Transfer and Third Mission Department of the University of Milan, Giovanni Todaro, Chief Digital Officer IBM Italia, Alberto Tozzi, Head of the Multifactorial and Complex Diseases Area at the Children’s Hospital Bambino Gesù.

Bioupper received the patronage of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities (CRUI) and the Fondazione ENPAM (National Institute of Medical Welfare).

For more information see the press release “CS BioUpper Finale_Medere vincitrice“.