The Skolkovo Foundation and AstraZeneca, an international biopharmaceutical company, have announced the launch of a new accelerator for projects in the fields of oncology, cardiovascular diseases, metabolism diseases, kidney and respiratory diseases. The acceleration program was joined by Primer Capital, a leading Russian seed venture fund in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

The goal of the accelerator is to search for promising ideas and innovative solutions in the field of oncology, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic and kidney diseases, and respiratory diseases, as well as help solve specific problems and issues that modern medicine faces, including issues of practical health care. The nominations also include developing solutions in the sphere of digital medicine.



“The development of scientific potential and knowledge-based technologies are among key conditions for stimulating innovations in the pharmaceutical industry,” says Kira Blong, Medical Director of AstraZeneca for Russia and Eurasia.” We believe in Russian science, and this was why we decided to continue searching for young and promising Russian teams to implement promising scientific discoveries into practice. The Startup Challenge program will help ambitious scholars make their contributions to the development of Russian health care sector. With support of the scientific community and market experts, they will help change the access to therapy and diagnostics of life-threatening diseases. I am sure that we will see new breakthrough ideas and solutions as soon as this year. They will help improve the prestige of the Russian science and change lives of millions of patients for the better.”

The invitation to take part in the project is extended to teams that have developed diagnostic tests, medications, treatment technologies, biomedical cell products, medical devices and digital solutions for the health care industry.

The application deadline to take part in the competition is August 14, 2019. 

The finalists of the project will be selected in late August. The winners will attend a training camp. They will also be offered an individual comprehensive plan for project development, with mentoring support from AstraZeneca experts and assigned a project manager from the Skolkovo Foundation for individual support as well. The participants will develop their competencies in accordance with the specifics of their project, as well as attend an acceleration program for developing business competencies of startups provided by Russian and international experts. Additionally, selection process winners in every nomination will compete for a mini-grant from the Skolkovo Foundation, in the amount of up to RUB 5 million.

The acceleration program will last until December. Near the end of the year the winners will present their projects to experts and investors, who will select startups for possible future support.

The experts of AstraZeneca will select priority directions for selection and mentoring support of startups and will take part in educational courses and initiatives.

The Skolkovo Foundation will become a venue for the selection process of projects, and will organize education and mentoring sessions for finalists and winners. The mentors and experts will include representatives of the Foundation, members of AstraZeneca and members of the judge panel. They will provide consultations and expert support to program winners.

Participating projects will also complete the due diligence assessment as part of the separate nomination, “For Contribution to a Healthy Future,” sponsored by Primer Capital.

“The AstraZeneca-Skolkovo Startup Challenge has already proven its effectiveness: the accelerator program served as a vehicle for finding and developing the most impressive projects in the field of biomedicine,” said Kamila Zarubina, Director of Biological and Medical Technology Acceleration Cluster at Skolkovo. “Last year's participants have made significant progress in their development, becoming active participants in the Skolkovo ecosystem and continuing scientific cooperation with AstraZeneca. We expect the participants of the accelerator program to present interesting and promising projects again this year, and the program will again help them move to a new level.”

The Skolkovo Foundation and AstraZeneca first announced their R&D and educational partnership in 2017. The winners of the first Startup Challenge 2018 were the startup companies of Moltech LLC, CRYSTA, M-Discovery, Brain Beat LLC, Microneedle Industrial LLC and Pamdeca. They presented solutions in the nominations for “Best medicines and biomedical cell products” and “Best test systems, hardware solutions and drug delivery devices.”

According to Elizaveta Rozhdestvenskaya, Executive Director of Primer Capital, the AstraZeneca-Skolkovo acceleration program is “a unique platform for presentation and evaluation of innovative and high-tech projects in the field of medicine; we fully support the policy of AstraZeneca with its focus on expanding research activities,” she says.