ExCulture wins Philips Innovation Award

ExCulture emerged victorious in the Innovator League of the prestigious Philips Innovation Award last year. In doing so, the startup won a 50,000 euro prize for its animal-free innovation for blood thinners, thanks also to the PNO Consultants team in South-Holland. We asked some questions to the founders Aisling Foley and Ilaria Poledri about what the Award brought them.

What did you win the Philips Innovation Award with?

“We began the Philips Innovation Award process in late 2022, focusing on developing a business plan for our animal-free innovation for blood thinners. We specifically focus on the heparin market. Heparin is the most commonly used blood thinner for things like surgery and heart diseases, for nearly a century. However, it is currently extracted from pig intestines, and due to epidemics there have been shortages for years. We are working on a fermentation process that can produce heparin compounds independent of the pig slaughter industry.”

What has the Philips Innovation Award brought ExCulture?

“During the process we received feedback from experts and engaged in conversations with investors. The platform of the Philips Innovation Award gave us the opportunity to refine and practice our pitch skills in front of various audiences. The climax of this journey took place at the Rotterdam Theater, where we competed with other promising startups. Each startup presented its idea and answered challenging questions from a panel of distinguished judges, including among others Roy Jakobs, chairman of the jury and CEO of Philips. Winning the Philips Innovation Award has given us a lot of traction and exposure, and new doors have opened for us. We have made valuable contacts and started discussions with potential investors, which has helped us to further develop and validate our plans.”

How did your company develop after winning the award?

“After winning the award, we continued working on developing our bioprocess and hired additional staff, with a strong focus on validation and R&D. We are setting up our laboratory and attracting new talent to further the commercialisation of our technology. Our goal is to finish developing our technology within five years so that other companies can license and use our solution.”

What role has PNO played in this process?

“PNO has played a crucial role as a sparring partner in terms of acquiring grants, providing advice and especially guidance. They helped us write good quality grant applications and explore opportunities to start projects. This has given us the financial space to realise our innovations and ambitions.”

What are your plans for the coming years?

“Our plans for the coming years include further growth, validation of our technology and making the next step towards commercialisation. We want to contribute to safer and more sustainable healthcare by producing our heparin substitute on a larger scale and in an environmentally friendly way. We see several grant opportunities that can help us in our growth and validation, such as the WBSO, and the innovation box. In addition, we also would like to use regional grants and EU grants such as Horizon Europe.”

What can PNO do for you?

Are you also an innovative entrepreneur and in need of support when applying for an innovation award or grant? Together with you, PNO Consultants look at your opportunities and transform your ideas into a convincing grant application. Feel free to contact us without obligation by calling 088-838 13 81 or sending a message:

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