The Startup Slam, a Highlight at BIO-Europe 2019

3488 20191112 cLudwig Schedl BioEurope

In November 2019, one of the most exciting annual pitching events took place at BIO-Europe® in Hamburg, Germany. For the sixth time since its launch in 2016, the Startup Slam hosted by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS and EBD Group attracted startups, industry leaders, and life science experts from all over the world. Here are the highlights of the Startup Slam 2019. 

“This year’s startup slam was really exciting,” said Susanna Ling, Director, Content Strategy at EBD Group. “We had over 60 applications from 24 different countries. It was really exciting to see such a wide variety both from the geography as well as the different therapeutic areas that these companies were pursuing.”

From the 60 applicants, only ten innovative startups were chosen to participate in the Startup Slam: GPN Vaccines, Sagitta Biotech, MyX Therapeutics, Pantherna Therapeutics, axiom insights, Osteolabs, Eisbach Bio, Asgard Therapeutics, TOLREMO Therapeutics, and Shift Bioscience.  

The pitching companies came from seven different countries across the globe, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. They focused on the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, osteoporosis, and vascular disease, as well as a novel drug delivery platform, vaccine development, and healthy aging. 

Meet the winners of the Startup Slam 2019!

After participating in a webinar to help them prepare their pitch and enhance their presentation skills for BIO-Europe, the shortlisted startups presented their innovative projects to leading delegates of the global biotech and pharma industry and an expert judging panel consisting of five life science representatives.

“To have these constraints in terms of the presentation and to have the exposure – I think there were probably close to 300 or 400 people in the room – is an extremely good opportunity for [the startups],” said one of the Startup Slam judges, Vanessa Malier, Managing Partner at Kurma Partners. 

Participants of the Startup Slam had the possibility to win access to a top-tier mentoring program organized and led by experts at Johnson & Johnson Innovation; a complimentary registration to BIO-Europe Spring® 2020 in Paris; as well as publicity through press releases, media coverage, and social media promotions. 

“Events like [the Startup Slam] are extremely important because startups in Europe need more opportunities to interact with investors, and interact with seasoned people from the industry to really understand where they are taking their product,” said Marek Tyl, CEO and Founder at Innovation Forum. 

Eisbach Bio: Winner of the Startup Slam 2019

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Madelaine Holden, Moderator of the Startup Slam, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS; Andreas Ladurner, CSO of Eisbach Bio; Joachim Eeckhout, Managing Director of

German biotech Eisbach Bio was announced as the victor of the 2019 Startup Slam. This innovative startup is focusing on the development of novel medicines that target chromatin regulatory mechanisms essential to tumors. 

Eisbach Bio scored high across all areas the judges were looking at, including the business model; the strategy, management team, technical feasibility,  scientific evidence, differentiation; the level of innovation and impact; as well as the market opportunity. 

Andreas Ladurner, CSO of Eisbach Bio stated after winning: “It’s an amazing validation of the team. We started with an idea about two years ago, we came together, we risked a lot, and obviously, this is more than a validation that we are on the right track.” 

Asgard Therapeutics: Audience Choice winner

Asgard Therapeutics AB, audience choice award, Startup Slam, BIO-Europe 2019
Cristiana Pires, CEO and Founder of Asgard Therapeutics

A new addition since the 2018 Startup Slam is the Audience Choice award, which allows BIO-Europe attendees to choose their favorite pitch. The winning startup is awarded publicity through press releases, media coverage, and social media promotion. 

The winner of the 2019 Audience Choice award was Swedish biotech Asgard Therapeutics. The company focuses on unleashing the immune system against cancer using a dendritic cell reprogramming approach. 

“We’ve pitched a lot but we are always learning and fine-tuning the way we present our project. And to have some feedback from the pharmaceutical companies and the other members of the jury is always good,” said Cristiana Pires, CEO and Founder of Asgard Therapeutics, after winning the Audience Choice.

Get ready for BIO-Europe 2020 in Munich!

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The participants and judges of the Startup Slam 2019

This year’s BIO-Europe is taking place in Munich, Germany from October 26th to 28th 2020. With over 4,400 attendees from all over the world, BIO-Europe is Europe’s largest partnering conference. It is a great chance for everyone in the biotech and pharma field to meet life science experts, potential partners, and investors from over 2,300 companies.  

So, save the date for BIO-Europe 2020 and in the meantime, check out this fantastic video about the Startup Slam 2019!

Images copyright Ludwig Schedl 

Author: Larissa Warneck, Science Journalist at