Encouraging Life Science Innovation: The Value of Accelerator Programs

The road to launching a life science start-up can be a long and difficult one, with founders often struggling to secure funding and manage the logistics of setting up a business. In a move to encourage innovation and help start-ups hit the ground running, there are an increasing choice of accelerator and support programs becoming available.

We spoke to Giovanni Rizzo, PhD MBA Chief of Innovation Division, Z-Cube S.r.l. to learn more about such programs and the difference they can make to innovation, as well as share some tips for academics beginning a start-up venture. 

What are some of the main challenges facing life science start-ups?

One of the challenges European life science start-ups face is the financing during 2 steps of the start-up life cycle: the seeding-and the growth phase. This ends up in a catch-22 situation: businesses in this sector, more than in other sectors, typically tend to struggle to get funding at the early stage and when they reach a certain level of maturity they are unable to grow unless risk-taking investors feel comfortable to invest in a technology that doesn’t yet show any traction or any revenue.

Where can start-ups look for sources of funding?

There are many possibilities for life science start-ups to get funded and now the European Union and many European countries have taken a big step forward to boost innovation and to support start-ups. Institutional grants (EU/National Institutions) are the first step to look at for very early start-ups and spin-outs from academic institutions. This offers possibilities for start-ups to get funding without dilution of their shares. Incubators and accelerators offer to start-ups a good support to develop their business but also a healthy environment and ecosystem that encourage investors and make them more comfortable in investing.

Business angels and venture capitalists are often a part of innovative acceleration programs, which creates the right network to get a…

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