It is not always easy to attract investors and major pharmaceutical groups outside of capital cities. In order to overcome this, Quest for health intends to gather together as many high-quality innovative startups as possible in the East of France (100 by 2025). Already, in just four years, Quest for change, the network of accelerators in the Grand Est, from which Quest for health originated, has increased the number of healthcare projects supported from 5 to 67 (48% medtech, 27% e-health, 25% biotech). 60% are the result of public research, 40% come from private research.
In 2021, these startups obtained a total of €55 million via fundraisings for a portfolio valuation of €190 million. 21 of the startups are winners of the i-Lab national competition, 4 are winners of the i-Nov national competition and, at the European level, 3 are winners of the EIC Accelerator.
One third of the startups are not from the Grand Est (Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Marseille, Nice, USA (IOME Bio, RDS (Rhythm Diagnostic Systems), Surge, …), Israel (NanoSynex), …). “International startups choose to join us for example in order to gain access to an ecosystem of innovation that is adapted and easily mobilizable, with a pool of talented individuals taught at prestigious institutes and universities, and premises appropriate to their requirements (laboratories etc.). They also hope to benefit from our experience and our accredited experts, in particular to understand the special requirements of French administration, tax authorities etc., and to identify the funding resources that will allow them to make the most of their business plan,” said Guillaume Vetter-Genoud, Director of Quest for health.
Quest for change was created two years ago. It is a network of five accelerators certified as excellent by the Grand Est Region and located in six areas of the Grand-Est: Innovact (Reims), Quai Alpha (Epinal), Rimbaud’Tech (Charleville-Mézières), Semia (Strasbourg and Mulhouse) and The Pool (Metz). Healthcare projects accounted for approximately 25% of the accelerator (67 startups), which therefore decided to devote an entire entity to them.
“Quest for health aims to increase the visibility of our startups and our initiatives at the regional, national and international levels, and as a priority deals with the requirements of our entrepreneurs – financing, access to talented individuals, certification courses, premises… – and integrates them as quickly as possible into the innovation ecosystem and a community of national and international entrepreneurs,” Guillaume Vetter-Genoud, Director of Quest for health.
The new healthcare accelerator thus helps the startups structure their roadmaps and their financing requirements and puts them in contact with investors, major groups, partners and foreign experts, in particular in Germany (1st healthcare market in Europe), Switzerland or the USA (Boston). Partnerships have been consolidated not only with institutional players (Grand Est Region, local authorities, FEDER, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Caisse d’Epargne Grand Est Europe) but also with BioValley France, SATT Conectus, France Biotech, Angels Santé and international businesses such as Thermo Fisher.
Support is provided by former entrepreneurs. “The whole teaching program is very much oriented towards operations, in particular field operations,” Guillaume Vetter-Genoud added.
For financing, the healthcare accelerator has created an innovative resource: WiClub Santé, in partnership with the Wiseed participatory funding platform. This system allows individual investors to become shareholders of more than one startup at the same time (with a minimum investment of €1,000), thus limiting the investment risks. €2.2 million have thus been collected, for 9 incubated companies, in almost two years.
As Bpifrance prescribers, the French Tech Seed DeepEst consortium, with SATT Conectus as lead partner (of which Quest for health is a member), supports companies during their initial fundraising by means of convertible bonds in the maximum amount of €500,000.
A trinational platform (France, Germany, Switzerland) that organizes connections between investors, major accounts and startups will see the light of day at the end of the first half of 2023.
This resolutely international orientation is also reflected each year in the “Trinational HealthTech Days”, that have led to the organization of more than 300 meetings between French, Swiss and German investors, major accounts and startups, over a three-year period. A dozen people run the trinational consortium that organizes the annual event, between France, Germany (Heidelberg, Mannheim, Tübingen, Baden-Baden) and Switzerland (Basel). The next meeting of this pivotal event will be held in Strasbourg in 2023.
Since 2022, Quest for change has offered certification courses, that will evolve towards a Master’s degree in Deeptech and Healthcare Entrepreneurship with the University of Strasbourg and SATT Conectus, in 2024.
The accelerator will be set up in early February 2023 in the heart of Nextmed, the Strasbourg medical technologies campus located in the civil hospital, close to prestigious medical institutes (IRCAD, IHU Strasbourg, Gepromed…) and the University of Strasbourg. 30,000 m2 will be dedicated to healthcare, 10,000 m2 of which have already been built… just a short walk from five Nobel Prize winners who continue to be active.