ITEMAS is in favour of the creation of a fund or investment instrument for early stage projects

 Funding instruments for early stage innovation projects born in medical centres are scarce.  

Which are the needs of innovation projects born in medical centres? Which are the limitations to bring them to market? Innovation experts gave their views at the 1st ITEMAS webinar about “Investment in health innovation projects during the Covid-19 pandemic”. In the webinar we learnt how to overcome the challenges encountered by healthcare professionals that strive to innovate with the aim to improve the quality of the healthcare system and patients’ quality of life.

Access to funding for biomedical and biotechnological research carried on in medical centres is mainly focused on the first phases of research. However, difficulties arise when a project requires funding for further development or building a prototype. If a spin-off has not been constituted, the options to get funding are considerably reduced.

Agostino Romeo, Innovation Project Manager at Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR) and Míriam Ors, Innovación and Technology Transfer Director at Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute (IIB Sant Pau) showed examples of the obstacles that innovation centres face when they need funding to go forward:

  • Lack of technological maturity stops access to funding from a risk capital fund
  • Not having a leader with a research background limits the access to funding
  • The project goal might not be the creation of a company
  • Access to funding is usually limited by regions
  • Resolution time is too long and interrupts or unnecessarily lengthens the project timeline

The speakers endorsed the creation of a fund or funding instrument to support high value projects that still have a lower TRL  (Technology Readiness Level) in order to facilitate their entry to market.

As a fund for early stage projects will have a high risk for the investors, there should be some incentives for them such as tax incentives. “Only in this way  private entities will be willing to invest as short-term economic prospects are conditioned by Covid-19 pandemic” said GENESIS Biomed CEO Josep Lluís Falcó.

GENESIS Ventures, an investment fund managed by GENESIS Biomed, is specialised in early stage projects with the aim to help move forward “projects of excellence born in Spanish research centres and hospitals, explained Falcó.

Almudena Trigo, from the investment fund BeAble, which manages 25 million €, explained that the projects should increase their TRL and that it is extremely important to have a good industrial property strategy in order to get funding.

Carlos Fernández and Patricia Zorrilla, from  the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Valdecilla and Youness O. Benkaddour from Canaan Research & Investment also participated in the event. Benkaddour pointed that an early stage fund should take into account the differences between sectors as return, investment and risk vary depending on the field (medical devices, digital health or pharmacological).

The 1st webinar was a great success with the attendance of 134 professionals whose questions were answered by the speakers later by email.

ITEMAS 2nd webinar focused on the “Keys to raise private funding in healthcare projects”, with speakers from IDIPAZ, YSIOS Capital and Arvor Global Management. ITEMAS working group Empresas e Inversores, with the team working in Evaluation Methods, has developed an instrument to evaluate whether an innovation project is mature enough to obtain funding.

This document, published in ITEMAS website– includes 10 aspects to take into account: Need/Problem; State of the Art; Competition; Market; Project evaluation; Costs; Resources; Risks; Milestones; Regulation; Industry.