On 15 April 2020 seven EIC-backed innovators shone with their COVID-19 solutions in front of investors during a dedicated European Innovation Council (EIC) ePitching session. The pitching session saw an overwhelming amount of innovative solutions being proposed in the EIC Community but only the seven best made the cut and Smart Separations stole the thunder with its COVID-blocking microfilter. Here's how it happened.
The seven finalists had six minutes of pitching followed by five minutes of Q&A to convince the jury of investors of their solution to help fight COVID-19. The Jury consisted of representatives from Clinical Research Ventures, Diffusion Capital Partners, the European Investment Bank, Idacapital, Illumina Ventures, and Panakes Partners. At the end of the session the participants had the opportunity to vote for the SME with the most convincing solution and pitch. Smart Separations, represented by its CEO and founder Hugo Macedo, was crowned as winner. The other six finalists were: Cellply, EpiEndo Pharmacauticals, EpiGuard, OTR3 , Respinova Ltd. and SwissDeCode.
Smart Separations has developed a nano technology-based smart coating, which destroys viruses, bacteria and mold. The coating is used on their ceramic filters that block particles efficiently. Both the coating and filters act on air and surfaces, two of the main ways that Coronavirus spreads.
Hugo Macedo said: “We at Smart Separations are trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have created easy to deploy coated stickers that fix to hundreds of surfaces where Coronavirus is commonly present (supermarket packaging, hospital door panels, ATMs, etc)."
The smart coatings and ceramic filters are being used to help create PPE, masks and gloves that destroy SARS-CoV-2 on contact. They offer a reusable and efficient solution to health systems that are facing a shortage in access to PPE.
"In addition", says Macedo, our coated gloves, masks and air filters offer a solution for everyday use, in public transportation, offices or nursing homes. They provide protection to ensure that the air you breathe and surfaces all around you are virus-free".
Entrepreneur and scientist Hugo Macedo founded Smart Separations in 2013 to develop a new microfiltration platform using its patented ceramic membrane. The company received funding from the EIC Accelerator in 2018. Now nested at the Surrey Research Park (Guildford, UK), incubated in the World’s Top Business Incubator SET Squared, and at the world’s leading International Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), it has grown to a team of 20+, all dedicated to improving quality of life through innovation. Its accolades include the Rushlight Clean Environment Award, 1st prize in the MED.Ideas Cancer Award and The Guardian’s Startup of the Year.
"Alongside these existing solutions, a wide range of manufacturing partners want our Smart Coatings for their own products; from mobile phone covers, to supermarket trolleys and doctor surgery check in screens”, said Hugo Macedo.
The EIC ePitching sessions with investors are a great opportunity for businesses to showcase their company and product in front of a large group of investors, according to Hugo.
“These events offer us the opportunity to quickly get the word out there and to form critical partnerships to enable us to scale up. As well as manufacturing partners and support, we urgently need the right financial partners to help us scale fast and meet all the demands where our technology is desperately needed.” added Hugo. Being crowned winner is the cherry on the cake: “I didn’t go into the event expecting to be awarded with best pitch. I didn’t have much time to give it thought. But, yes that exceeded my expectations. The challenge now is how quickly we can bring these solutions to those who need it most.”
The ePitching was scrutinised by jury members and investors Diana Saraceni, Nuno Arantes-Oliveira and Cem Baktoy among others tasked with the difficult assignment to judge the participants.
Nuno Arantes-Oliveira, partner at Clinical Research Ventures, admitted it was a tough choice. “All companies offered different types of solutions. We really had the best of each type of approach. That made the vote in the end very hard, I didn’t know who to vote for!”
Diana Saraceni, co-founder and managing Partner at Panakes Ventures said: “During the past years we always looked at investment opportunities in the infectious diseases-sector. Since the COVID-19 outbreak we received many more opportunities on the topic and looked at them with renewed attention.“
All three investors believed there would be suitable potential for follow up. Cem Baktoy, managing partner at idacapital said: “The pitches were very relevant for us. I will be following up with a few of them, I believe we can help each other out”. Nuno Arantes-Oliveira already contacted one of the companies during the pitch itself, in order to meet in the upcoming days.” Diana Saraceni added: “We found in general many interesting opportunities in the EIC portfolio, the EIC platform or during networking events and pitches, like this ePitch. The EIC network brings a good contribution to Panakes dealflow generation.”
EIC and COVID-19
In the upcoming weeks, the EIC will host several COVID-19 related events. On 24, 25 and 26 of April you can bring your ideas to the table & connect with others to find innovative solutions in health, business, education, social, digital and other spheres during the #EUvsVirus Hackathon. In addition, the EIC will host a dedicated ePitching on COVID-19 with over 40 private and public procurers from the healthcare sector.
Looking to pitch your ideas to top-class investors?
Whether they are COVID-related or not, we host regular ePitching sessions with investors based on your company profiles in ScaleUp EU. Our next few e-pitching events will be focused on eHealth and Mobility. For the latter, applications are still open. SME’s working on Mobility & Transport and looking to launch their next investment round will be invited to apply. Keep an eye on our events page for more information on future events.
If you are interested in joining, don’t miss out and update your profile information straight away. If you need help, please contact us through our contact page (choose ScaleUp EU: claim access).