The 7 Best Biotech Startup Competitions in Europe

biotech startup competitions pitch

If you are looking for an opportunity to pitch your startup, look no further. Here’s a guide to the key European events for biotech startup competitions.

Taking part in a pitch competition can help a biotech company get a headstart and make its name known to investors and other important players in the biotech industry. For those looking for a chance to showcase their ideas, we’ve gathered a list of the best pitch competitions for biotech startups across Europe.

All of these biotech startup competitions will be opening applications again next year, so start polishing your pitch and get ready to fight for the prize.

Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge

Biotech areas: Digital health / Energy / Food, agriculture and environment / Industrial biotech

Prize: €100k + event invitations

This is one of the most lucrative contests in Europe for biotech startups. With 12 different tracks, many of them suitable for different biotech areas, the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge selects 70 finalists that pitch at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit in Paris. There is a €15k prize for the best startup in each track, and a €100k grand prize for the best one overall, without equity or any other conditions.

The top 500 startups also receive access to the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit and to an investor day where they can have one-on-one meetings with specialized investors. Among the companies that have won previous editions is GTX Medical, a Swiss company developing a brain implant to restore the mobility of people with paralysis.

Fun fact, the challenge was set up with the help of Xavier Duportet, CEO of the French biotech startup Eligo Biosciences.


Biotech areas: Synthetic biology

Prize: £100k (€110k) + accelerator program

Organized by SynbiCITE and the Rainbow Seed Fund, Bio-start aims to help synthetic biology companies commercialize their technology. The contest is hosted at Imperial College London and the winner gets £100k equity free, £40k in equipment and services, six months of lab space, and access to a 10-week accelerator program.

The organizers are planning the next edition for 2019. The winner of the last edition, in 2017, was CustoMem, which creates bacterial cellulose membranes to remove toxins from water.

Accelerate@Babraham Start-ups Competition

Biotech areas: Therapeutics, diagnostics, synthetic biology

Prize: £20k + accelerator program

This competition was launched this year and the first cohort of startups are currently taking part in the accelerator program. Five startups are selected among the applicants through a pitch contest, receiving £20k in non-dilutive funding and accessing a 3-month accelerator program at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK.

Although there is not a final date yet, the organizers have confirmed the competition will take place again next year. Among the companies that won this first edition are VisusNano, developing a drug-releasing contact lens; Antiverse, a company that uses machine learning to discover antibody drugs in just one day; and Kalium Diagnostics, developing the first home test for blood potassium.

European Health Catapult

Biotech areas: Medical biotech / Medtech / Digital health

Prize: €20k + services + mentoring

Organized by EIT Health and Health Axis Europe, the competition has three different tracks focused on health applications: biotech, medtech and digital health. After a round of regional selections, 7 European startups are selected in each category to participate in the semifinals. The winner of each category gets €20k, with €15k and €10k prizes for the second and third positions. They also get access to the EIT Health Accelerator and access to services for clinical validation and market preparation.

The winners of last year’s competition were Sunbioscience, developing more accurate disease models; Enmodes, with a portable lung support device; and Fibrichek, which has created a prescription app to detect irregular heart rhythms.


Biotech areas: Healthcare, cleantech

Prize: $10K + services + mentoring + event invitation

Run by the Innovation Forum accelerator, this competition has local semifinals on Europe, US and Asia. The winners get to pitch in the global finals, where those who come on top receive a $10k (€8.8k) non-dilutive prize, 6 months of lab space, a crowdfunding campaign, and mentoring. The 20 startups that come on top also get an invitation to the Innovation Forum Leaders Conference.

Companies that have won previous editions include LifeBit and HealX, applying artificial intelligence to biomedical research and drug discovery, respectively; and VenomAB, a company developing antivenoms.

BIO Europe Startup Slam

Biotech areas: Medical biotech, digital health

Prize: Mentoring program + event invitation

Organized by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Startup Slam contest takes place at BIO Europe, the biggest event in Europe for the biotech industry. Selected companies get to attend the conference and pitch in front of investors. The winner gets access to a mentoring program by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and an invitation to a future industry event.  

The winner of last year’s edition was Amylon Therapeutics, which is developing RNA technology to treat disorders of the nervous system such as stroke.

Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge

Biotech areas: Medical biotech, medtech, digital health

Prize: Event invitation

This global competition starts with four regional rounds, one of them in Europe. The companies selected are then invited to pitch at the Startup Health Festival in San Francisco during the renowned JP Morgan conference.

Last year’s winner was Nanowear, an Indian startup that has developed underwear that can wirelessly monitor health data of patients with cognitive heart failure. 

There are plenty of other opportunities in Europe to pitch your biotech startup, often at smaller events specific to certain industries, such as the Industrial Biotechnology Pitch Event and Pitch your microbes, or at specific locations, such as Munich Life Science Pitch Day or NSLDays’ startup challenge.

Many accelerator and incubator programs, like RebelBio, also organize pitch competitions, though those are often restricted to the companies that have taken part in the program. The options are many!


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