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Over the last few days, I’ve had the pleasure of attending some of the SIM Conference’s hotly anticipated ‘Pitch Battles’ over at the Startups Stage.

The gruelling, quick-fire format sees Co-Founders and CEOs get on stage to deliver a 3-minute pitch in front of a panel of investor judges, before answering questions for 2 minutes.

The pitch battles make for an exciting, if not slightly nerve wracking, watch – and although the participants aren’t actually competing, the audience definitely chooses its winners and losers.

The 5-minute run time creates an apt simulation of the dog-eat-dog nature of fundraising in crowded markets; and with the judges only able to dedicate limited time to each pitch, getting to the point – and quickly – is critical.

What becomes immediately clear is that investors only really want to know who you are, what you do, who you’re selling to, and how you’re going to scale your business model. They aren’t immediately interested in the technical details of your product – only in the viability of the business.

The most successful pitches of course, will also quickly differentiate themselves from the competition, and have some way of proving their tech works, whether that’s through existing customers or a validated proof of concept. Here were some of the standout pitches from the week in our view!

Healthtech: iLof

Sara Rocha, Bioclinical Manager at biotech startup, iLof, opened her pitch with a nod to the company’s 18 year heritage in clinical trials R&D.

The problem in this particular industry, she suggested, is that matching clients with the right clinical therapy trials is a laborious process. In fact, as many as 9 out of 10 clients won’t be the right fit for any particular clinical therapy, which results in severe delays in taking cutting-edge medicines to market.

iLof is streamlining the process of matching clients with specific clinical therapies by up to 70% using personalised optical fingerprints. The minimally invasive procedure, which involves taking a simple blood sample, provides iLof with a client profile that can be quickly cross referenced with clinical trial data using the company’s own AI model. The system will then identify those who are a match, speeding up the whole process.

Currently iLof is working on Alzeimer’s and ovarian cancer trials, but the technology can be applied to any disease that shows up in the blood. It’s cost efficient, and revolutionising the way we approach drug development.

PetTech: Maven Pet

Guilherme Coelho took to the stage to pitch Moven Pet, an ‘AI Vet’ consisting of a wearable device and a machine learning model that can detect the early signs of illnesses such as diabetes and liver failure in cats and dogs.

Guilherme suggests that, despite the often (seemingly) sudden nature of declining health in pets, most common diseases can actually be detected before it’s too late to get them treated.

The hardware, which relies on sophisticated medical-grade sensors, is built-in to cat and dog collars and can detect things like respiratory rate, water intake and behavioural changes. The sensors then feed up to a million data points a day into the machine learning model, and are cross referenced with other pet health data to identify potential risks to your pets wellness.

In terms of the business model – pet owners invest in the hardware through their vets, who in turn take a cut of the profits along with Moven Pet.

Startups stage – Pitch Battle: Agritech & Foodtech

Each year, there is around 644 million tons of fruit and vegetable waste, equating to the loss of about 1.5 billion Euros. In order to tackle this problem, Débora Campos founded AgroGrIN Tech.

AgroGrIN Tech was born from research Débora carried out as part of her PhD programme in Biotechnology and Food Science and Engineering, which saw her explore the valorization of pineapple by-products.

She utilised the findings of this research to found a company that uses patented biotechnology to upcycle fruit and vegetable waste, losses and by-products into clean-label ingredients for the food and supplement industries.

The aim of AgroGrIN Tech is to promote a circular food chain and reduce the negative environmental impact of current food waste. Win win!

Jasmine Gray

Jasmine is an Account Director at Liberty Communications

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