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The Pistoia Alliance Launches Its Enhanced President’s Startup Challenge

Dubbed the "Year of the Startup," 2021 winners will benefit from a new long-term support ecosystem and up to $20,000

by The Pistoia Alliance
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BOSTON, MA — January 28, 2021 — The Pistoia Alliance, a global, not-for-profit alliance that works to lower barriers to innovation in life science and health care 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 health care 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 health care 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 health care 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.”

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The 2021 launch of the President’s Startup Challenge follows the success of previous winners, including Riffyn Nexus, 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 contact David Proudlock: