Boston, MA – (27 January 2021): The Pistoia Alliance, a global, not-for-profit alliance that works to lower barriers to innovation in life science and healthcare R&D, has today launched its revised President’s Startup Challenge. Building on the success of the previous six years, 2021 will see the annual Challenge, not just fund startups working to transform R&D and healthcare innovation, but support and nurture them long-term with a collaborative ecosystem to foster such innovation. The Challenge will comprise of two pitch finals taking place at the Alliance’s annual conferences: the Ideas Showcase in April for startups less than a year old, and a further final in October for startups between one and three years old. With R&D innovation more crucial than ever, the Pistoia Alliance is calling for partners, organizations, universities, and existing accelerators to come forward, get involved, and put their support behind a new breed of life science and healthcare startups.


“COVID-19 has placed worldwide attention firmly on R&D endeavors and the importance of collaboration to accelerate innovation,” said Dr. Steve Arlington, President of the Pistoia Alliance. “Never before have life sciences and healthcare been on the front page of every newspaper every day, making it crucial that we support R&D innovation at the earliest possible stage. Our remodeling of the President’s Startup Challenge reflects the wider efforts of the Pistoia Alliance to support this mission, from our Innovation Seed Fund to digital health hackathons. After all, life sciences innovation cannot take place in isolation; it requires the whole industry to work together. Through our revised Challenge, we hope to make our members aware of this need, and encourage their organizations to actively get involved.”


The 2021 launch of the President’s Startup Challenge follows the success of previous winners, including Riffyn, Medexprim, Cubuslab (now LabForward), Arctoris,, and InSilicoTrials. Together, finalists have raised over $50 million in funding and employed more than 200 people. Many have become actively engaged in Pistoia Alliance projects, strengthening the Alliance’s mission to build an end-to-end pipeline of initiatives – from initial proof of concepts to communities of interests and large-scale member projects. This year, the Alliance aims to replicate this success while pushing boundaries even further. 2021 winners will receive $20,000 each, along with access to the Pistoia Alliance’s member network, judging network, and support from the new startup ecosystem. This will comprise of boot camp courses, long-term mentoring and networking with industry professionals, and access to new ideas generation partnerships such as hackathons and accelerators. The remaining finalists will each receive $5,000 towards the further advancement of their solutions.


“As world economies hope to emerge from the pandemic more resilient, 2021 has rightly been dubbed the ‘Year of the Startup’, with particular room for innovation across R&D,” said David Proudlock, Innovation Consultant at the Pistoia Alliance. “Yet, startups will need more virtual support than ever this year. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the advancement of therapeutics and medical devices is the whole industry’s responsibility. Simply funding startups is no longer enough to ensure their success, which is why we’re calling on organizations and academia to come together and support new ideas generation long-term.”


Alongside organizations keen to find and support new companies, the Pistoia Alliance is looking for established competitions to partner with, alongside companies interested in sponsoring the Challenge, either financially or those with software or services that could benefit entrants, as well as individuals interested in mentoring. Those taking part can benefit from enhanced brand recognition, access to a judging pool of expertise, pooling of funds to deliver improved prize offerings, and visibility into new ideas presented by entrants. To take part or discuss further, please click here.




About The Pistoia Alliance:

The Pistoia Alliance is a global, not-for-profit members’ organization made up of life science companies, technology and service providers, publishers, and academic groups working to lower barriers to innovation in life science and healthcare R&D. It was conceived in 2007 and incorporated in 2009 by representatives of AstraZeneca, GSK, Novartis and Pfizer who met at a conference in Pistoia, Italy. Its projects transform R&D through pre-competitive collaboration. It overcomes common R&D obstacles by identifying the root causes, developing standards and best practices, sharing pre-competitive data and knowledge, and implementing technology pilots. There are currently over 150 member companies; members collaborate on projects that generate significant value for the worldwide life sciences R&D community, using The Pistoia Alliance’s proven framework for open innovation.


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