Accelerator aims to promote digital health innovation in Italy


A digital health startup accelerator is launching in Italy, with more than €6 million backing the new enterprise.

Called VITA, the accelerator will support up to 10 startups focused on digital transformation of the health system. The project is backed by asset management company CDP Venture Capital SGR, with help from digital health consultancy Healthware Group (pharmaphorum’s parent company) and Danish accelerator Accelerace.

“The pandemic has accelerated exponentially the healthcare digitalisation process that was already underway, and today it becomes essential to invest in the growth of start-ups capable of offering a new approach that puts patients first, and guarantees the safety and ethical management of health data that can be used to facilitate collaboration on demand and in real time between doctors and patients, from the hospital to the home,” Francesca Bria, president of CDP Venture Capital, said in a statement.

CDP, Healthware, and Accelerace will invest €4.5 million in the project, with another €1.8 million coming from corporate partners including Petrone Group and SIFI. Zcube – Zambon Research Venture is also supporting the project as an innovation partner.

“In the health digitisation process, Italy can play a key role by focusing on the growth and acceleration of innovative start-ups,” Paolo Borella, VITA's managing partner and head of program, said in a statement. “We have therefore decided to leverage our experience in the innovation and digital health sectors and contribute to the birth of VITA to actively support the most promising companies and, at the same time, create synergies with the sector's key players and leading companies, thus contributing to give a strong boost to the digital health ecosystem.''

Run by Healthware Ventures from an operations standpoint, the accelerator will select 10 startups per year for three years. They will operate out of the Palazzo Innovazione in Salerno, Italy. Startups will have access to a development process, a network of ecosystem partners, and events including Frontiers Health.

Startups will receive an initial investment of €110,000, €50,000 of which will be in cash, in exchange for an equity stake between 4 and 10 percent, according to VITA's website. Teams that stand out will have opportunities to access additional investments as well.

“The VITA accelerator is testament to Healthware's commitment to contributing to the digital health transformation, supporting the growth and development of the most promising start-ups,” Healthware CEO Roberto Ascione said in a statement. “It is indeed also thanks to the startups and their technological solutions that today we are able to accelerate the digitisation of the healthcare sector. To this end, we are proud to collaborate with CDP Venture Capital and Accelerace on this programme, which is one of a kind at the national level, with the aim of setting an international benchmark for start-ups and innovators in the digital health sector.”

Italian startups and international startups willing to set up an Italian office can apply through June 12 at the accelerator’s website. VITA is especially interested in companies working on technological solutions to respiratory diseases, ophthalmology, women's health, rare diseases, and chronic pain management.