- In the second edition of the Israeli-Swiss Lean Launchpad Program, Swiss startups in the sectors of life science and health tech will get an inside look at the Israeli ecosystem.
- The program will be a hybrid program including online coaching and workshops, group meetings with Israeli industry leaders and a networking week in Israel in April 2022.
The second edition of the Israeli-Swiss Lean Launchpad Program will launch in early 2022. Swiss startups in the sectors of life science and health tech are invited to apply for a chance to get an inside look at the Israeli ecosystem.
Israel has seen incredible growth in investments in the last few years. After the record year of 2020, 2021 has already broken and surpassed it, more than doubling the previous year and surpassing the number of 17.8 billion dollar investments by Q3. More specifically, investments in Israeli Digital Health companies crossed $1B at the end of H1, surpassing the amount raised by the sector in 2020 ($813M FY). The country is also home to roughly 1500 life sciences and health tech companies with solutions ranging from digital therapeutics to clinical workflow.
Original Plan and Disruption
This is the second edition of the Swiss-Israeli camp, organised by Innosuisse and the Embassy of Switzerland in Israel. The first cohort was a difficult one to pull off. When six Swiss start-ups were accepted last year to the Lean Launchpad Program (an Innosuisse internationalisation camp), there were a lot of promises: an in-person experience with the Israeli ecosystem, the opportunity to build long-lasting connections with the top VCs, academics and entrepreneurs in the country and a platform from which to get their hands dirty talking to customers, partners and competitors to help them create the product their audience actually wants.
Everything was ready to go, except for buying plane tickets and booking the hotels. The participants were due to land in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2020. We all know the COVID story by now. Like so many others, the LLP team had to reevaluate everything. Is it possible to give the Israeli experience without Israel?
Wishlist and Adapting to New Plan
“Networking is a person to person activity. I was apprehensive that the program won’t be able to achieve what it promised and that we will only get more coaching, which, as good as it can be, is not the reason we signed up for this program,” says Dr. Poorya Amini, who participated in the program with his company, Risklick. David Biegeleisen, director of the program, explains, “We knew of other online-only programs that took this component [networking] out completely, but this is not what we promised our clients. It was essential for us to give them a practical and valuable interaction with the Israeli industry”. COVID or not, engaging with Israel’s local medical technology ecosystem was a cornerstone of the LLP program.
Adapting to the new circumstances, each start-up that took part in the program created a wishlist that included its most pressing commercial needs. The LLP team’s effort was to systematically answer and fulfil each wishlist, comprised of connections with potential customers, partners, distribution channels and clinical trials candidates.
One of the companies that took part in the program was Hi-D Imaging. Hi-D Imaging is innovating in the field of medical imaging processing by decreasing pre-operational/surgical planning times and overcoming medical scan limitations for cardiovascular pre-operational planning. When Dr Utku Gülan, co-founder of the company, joined the LLP program, he was looking to create partnerships with Israeli hospitals for clinical trials, MRIs and CT scans. “We knew Israel is very open for new technologies and hoped to test the reaction to our product there and find connections in Israel that would allow us to conduct clinical trials and a future client base,” says Dr Gülan. “During the camp and afterwards, the LLP team identified potential fitting partners from the Israeli healthcare sector and introduced us to the Head of the Engineering Medical Research Lab of the Edmond J. Safra International Congenital Heart Center”.
Ranked by Newsweek as one of the ten best hospitals globally and as the 13th most innovative hospital globally, this connection is a valuable one for Hi-D imaging which began a direct dialogue with the lab manager. The company is conducting a series of virtual meetings and live demos to test whether Sheba would be a fitting partner to become a beta site for Hi-D prototype testing. “Our next goal is to receive feedback from our partners in Israel regarding our product. I strongly believe that the connections we built via the LLP program will accelerate our market entry in Israel,” says Dr Gülan.
Another company that took part in the program was Risklick. The company has developed a first-of-its-kind data-driven tool to help clinical trial designers analyse and mitigate risks in their clinical trials and optimise newly-designed clinical trials’ protocol. Their LLP wishlist was focused on potential customers in medical centres and pharma companies. Hence, the LLP team introduced the company to the Head of Research Authority at Assuta Medical Center. “Assuta Medical Center conducts a large variety of clinical trials and is owned by the second biggest HMO in Israel, so we know that if our work with them is successful, there’s a good chance it will open more doors for us in the Israeli market,” says Dr Poorya Amini, Founder and CEO of Risklick. In a series of meetings with Risklick, the hospital decided to run a proof of concept with Risklick’s analytics tool. “We are planning to identify a suitable project for proof of value and start our collaboration,” says Dr Amini.
Conclusion of Networking Solution
These two examples of successful connections were possible because of the ongoing support by the LLP team during and after the program. “Being able to give our entrepreneurs practical results that would contribute to their evolution is the metric we judge ourselves by. Of course, the current circumstances made it more complicated to achieve a 100% success rate. Still, we also see our relationship with the start-ups as a long term connection, so hopefully, it can benefit them in the future as well.” Says Uri Paz of the LLP team.
Perfecting the Pitch
However, the practical benefits of the camp evolved in a second direction as well. As the program finally began in the winter of 2021, the LLP team realised all six startups could benefit from a push in the area of marketing and storytelling. “The lean start-up mentality is one we also implement ourselves, and accordingly, seeing the participants had a need and a wish to improve these skills, we decided to adapt the program to suit it”, says Mr Biegeleisen.
Master storyteller Lior Shoham was invited to give two long masterclasses on storytelling, pitch and delivery.
Four members of the LLP team flew to Zurich for two intensive days of shooting. David Biegeleisen and Uri Paz, organisers of the LLP program, Lior Shoham, accompanied each entrepreneur during the whole process, warming them up, adjusting and readjusting their delivery, and videographer Gal Menkes. This was also the first time all participants and organisers met face to face. Two weeks later, Menkes had edited six states of the art pitch videos.
“After releasing the pitch video on social media, we received great feedback from all stakeholders all around the world. It helped us increase our visibility and deliver our message to the targeted audience” says Dr Gülan.
“All in all, we believe the lean start-up approach is very well adjusted to these kinds of programs”, concludes Biegeleisen. And Pascual Brunner, founder and CEO of MovementSciences, says: “The sentence that impressed me the most about the LLP program was that “We were their customers”. And that the customer is always right, more or less. And this is what we experienced. In our company and I think in the companies of all the participants you really have to focus the whole product and goals towards the customers, their wishes and their fears. I really felt that the LLP team did it for us. That impressed me, and it was one of the biggest differences to other programs I started with”.
The next Lean Launchpad camp will start in February 2022 and last until April 2022. It will be a hybrid program including online coaching and workshops, group meetings with Israeli industry leaders and a networking week in Israel in April 2022. Visit swissleanlaunchpad.ch to follow the events at Lean Launchpad camp.