BioHackathon – sTARTUp Day 2023

As a side event of sTARTUp Day 2023, the largest business festival in the Baltic countries, the EIT Health and EIT Food supported BioHackathon brought together over 40 participants – startup-minded students, starting and established entrepreneurs in the field of life sciences, food- and health sector. 

BioHackathon was held at the Conference Centre of University of Tartu Library on the 15th of March, supporting participants in finding inspiration, developing a business plan, and making contacts. The event with a competitive element focused on hacking ideas in the following areas: Biotechnology (all the colors of the rainbow); Medicine & Healthcare; Food technology & -sustainability; Veterinary medicine and Life Sciences (more general ideas). 

The day started with a welcome and introduction of the day by Maris Väli-Täht, project manager at Tartu Biotechnology Park. This was followed by two presentations: Merike Leego introduced EIT Health and European Commission support for innovators and Adam Strzelecki presented EIT Food opportunities.

After the presentations, it was time for the participants to present their ideas and form final teams after which they could start working on these ideas. There were 11 teams altogether.

The teamwork was put on hold by a workshop on pitching by Mayri Tiido, where team members learned the ways of presenting their ideas in a convincing manner.

Then, teams had an opportunity to work with the mentors. The event’s mentors were experts from different backgrounds who were able to guide the teams both on more sector-specific issues and on broader business-related issues. Mentors Alina Paas (Tartu Ülikooli ettevõtlus- ja innovatsioonikeskus), Andre Veskioja (Maaelu Teadmuskeskus), Oliver Loit (Maaelu Teadmuskeskus), Elena Shkut (BioCC), Kadi Rammul (BioCC), Kadri Haljas (Triumf Health), Kristin Moppel (Migrevention), Liina Joller-Vahter (Power Algae, Tartu Ülikool), Liina Sala (Taimne Teisipäev), Meelis Kadaja (Nanordica Medical) and Viljam Viljasoo (Tartu Ärinõuandla) were guiding them out of the comfort zone to ensure that the business idea being improved was innovative, while helping to keep the ideas on the ground to ensure their viability.

Finally preparations for the pitching competition began. All eleven teams had to pitch their ideas and solutions to the jury within three minutes.

Teams gave very engaging and thoughtful pitches, and the jury had a very difficult time choosing the award winners. The jury members were Kadri Haljas, Merike Leego, Oliver Loit, Adam Strzelecki, Mayri Tiido, Maris Väli-Täht and Viljam Viljasoo.

To motivate the teams to take their business ideas on the next level, several prizes were given out at the competition:

The EIT Health 500€ award was won by the team Innate Health, which had the idea of ​​developing personalised autoimmune care platform for women that includes science based lifestyle changes and plans, 1-on-1 calls with medical specialist, labs to help clients identify root cause and a community to support.

The EIT Food 500€ award was won by the team SUHENU, whose recipe explorer app is aimed at finding better school food solutions, giving school cooks access to affordable, healthy and environmentally friendly recipes.

Five hours of consultations from the Tartu Biotechnology Park and tickets to the sTARTUp Day were won by the team Eden, which wants to solve the insufficient acces to fresh greens in the cities by growing plants in vertical farms near the city itself and transport ready to sell plants to their selling points.

The Biosciences Students’ Society (BÜS) chose their favorite, which turned out to be team Eden.