The 3rd edition of bioupper is about to start – IBM joins Novartis and Fondazione Cariplo for the development of life sciences startups

  •  Novartis and Fondazione Cariplo announce their collaboration with IBM, aimed at developing innovative projects with advanced technologies
  • Among the strengths of BioUpper, the synergy between academia, industry, non-profit organizations, institutions and investors, and the objective of transferring the excellence of the Italian research to the business world
  • Among the new features of the third edition, the identification of the areas of application through a participatory process, and a further opportunity for newly established enterprises through the Call for Scale
  • The awards are up to € 180,000 in services for each of the winners of the Call for Ideas, for a total of € 540,000

Milan/Rome, March 29, 2018 – After the success of the first two editions, Novartis and Fondazione Cariplo launch the third edition of BioUpper, the program supporting young talents who want to create a startup in Life Sciences, and announce the collaboration with IBM. The initiative, this year, will be implemented with Cariplo Factory, the hub of Fondazione Cariplo dedicated to open innovation projects, to support the excellence of Italian research in developing innovative projects, also through the use of advanced technology.

The third edition provides important new features to researchers, startuppers and innovators in Life Sciences: two parallel paths, named Call for Ideas and Call for Scale, respectively.

This edition offers awards for up to € 540,000 in services. The three winning projects of the Call for Ideas will each receive a voucher of up to € 180,000 in services, to be invested for the development of the project on the market, while the winners of the Call for Scale will have the opportunity to explore potential business partnerships.

The Call for Ideas is aimed at researchers, young talents and all those who plan and dream to transform a biotech idea into an enterprise, with the aim of helping them to develop and present innovative product or process projects in the field of Life Sciences. The best projects will be followed through a customized acceleration path.

The third edition of the program introduces a wide network of accelerators and incubators, distributed all over the Country, that will implement the acceleration path, including: BioUndustry Park, Campania NewSteel, Consorzio ARCA, Digital Magics, dPixel, Fondazione Filarete, Fondazione Toscana Life Sciences, I3P, Jcube, Luiss EnLabs, PoliHub, PTP – Science Park.

One of the most significant news of the third edition, designed precisely to provide the projects with further development opportunities, is the Call for Scales, aimed at startups in the post-seed phase (TRL – Technology Readiness Level – between 5 and 8). The Call for Scale is an open innovation program with the dual aim of supporting innovation in the field of Life Sciences – through the selection of startups with products and services already on the market – and the growth of Italian startups, through the collaboration with public and private companies operating in the health and hospital sector.

The startups selected at the end of the Call for Scale will have the opportunity to be presented to a technical-scientific committee made up of Novartis, Fondazione Cariplo, IBM and Cariplo Factory. Those judged to have the highest potential will undergo one-to-one meetings and will have access to the Match-Making Program, a path that will allow them to interact with the key players of the market, in order to build business opportunities.

To participate in BioUpper, simply access the website and submit a project whose scope falls within one of the areas of application; the deadlines are May 29, 2018, for the Call for Scale and June 5, 2018, for the Call for Ideas.

 “The third edition of BioUpper comes after two years of success, which prompted us to enhance the program’s formula including the collaboration with IBM, which we believe can make a vital contribution to the development of innovative projects in the Life Sciences sector, thanks to an excellence technological expertise”, stated Pasquale Frega, Country President of Novartis Italia and CEO of Novartis Farma. “This year, then, we worked to make the program’s formula even closer to the needs of Italian research, with special attention to the territory, through the selection of accelerators and incubators who will follow closely our young startuppers”.

Giuseppe Guzzetti, President of Fondazione Cariploadded “The applications and the potential of the digital world are a qualifying factor for the research in the Life Sciences area. Our commitment to the BioUpper project originates from the desire to offer support of key market players to the most promising talents and the most innovative startups. Scientific research, technology and digital innovation must increasingly operate in a complementary way: this is the methodology we are experimenting with the BioUpper platform. The good results of the previous two editions confirm that we are heading in the right direction”.

“With great pleasure we take part in this program developed by Novartis and Fondazione Cariplo, one of the most interesting tools for startups operating in the Life Sciences sector”, said Daniela Scaramuccia, Director Healthcare & Life Science IBM Italy. “IBM confirms its commitment to support innovation and digital transformation, by providing technology platforms and expertise. We believe that especially in the health sector, innovation must be cultivated through a collaboration well distributed over the territory, in response to the real needs of the various stakeholders involved: from patients to HCPs and industry operators, from researchers to caregivers and the entire community”.


To drive Novartis and Fondazione Cariplo to continue the development of the initiative was, among other factors, the great success achieved in the past years. The second edition of BioUpper collected more than 150 applications, 30% more than the first edition of 2015, and – from the first launch of the initiative to the present – the program formula produced numbers that are particularly significant for the Life Sciences sector: 70% of the finalists of the first two editions collected investments for a total of over € 2.2 million, from grants, private investors and venture capitalists; 55% of the teams established a company, while 45% are continuing the development phase of their products; and, finally, 65% of the participants entered business and co-development partnerships.

The launch of the third edition is sponsored by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Conference of Italian University Deans (CRUI, Conferenza dei Rettori delle Università Italiane).

More information about the project is available on the website

About Novartis

Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals and eye care. Novartis has leading positions globally in each of these areas. In 2017, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.1 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.0 billion. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 122,000 full-timeequivalent associates. Novartis products are sold in approximately 155 countries around the world. For more information, please visit and  Novartis Italia is also on Twitter, @NovartisItalia

About Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione Cariplo has been carrying out philanthropic activities since 1991, with a passion for art, culture, scientific research, social issues and the environment. Today the foundation is focused on the support of young people, community welfare and the well-being of the people, implementing projects in collaboration with non-profit organizations. In recent years the foundation supported over 30,000 initiatives – donating € 2.8 billion – and has been able to innovate its ways to be philanthropic, as in the cases of the social housing or the cultural districts. Not just a benefactor, but a motor of ideas. Further information at

About IBM

With 107 years of history, IBM is a leader in innovation at the service of organizations throughout the world. The company operates in 175 Countries, with around 380,000 employees. In 2017, IBM allocated almost 6 billion dollars to Research and Development activities, carried out in 12 centers worldwide, with over 8,500 engineers, scientists and designers from 47 Countries. The company boasts a consolidated heritage of projects, initiatives and partnerships that are then translated into innovative solutions for the digital transformation of companies and institutions. IBM has been operating in Italy since 1927, and in these 91 years it contributed to the development of innovation for every industry sector, as well as that of the country’s economy. For more information, please visit: