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Meet the Investors: Open Innovation and Collaboration among Different Stakeholders

More than 2.392 billion was invested in Italian startups in 2022, as reported in a recent article by StartupItalia. With respect to 2021 that accounts for an increase of 71.8 %, a significant figure that demonstrates the growth of the entire innovation ecosystem.

During Sprint 3 of our acceleration program, we organized a "Meet the Investors" session with the support of the our Innovation Partner Zcube - Zambon Research Venture to explore how accelerators, pharma companies, investors and startups can collaborate in the digital transformation of the healthcare system. The session started with a panel discussion, moderated by our Managing Partner Paolo Borella, featured Alessio Beverina - Co-Founder & General Partner of Panakes Partners, Fabrizio Chines - Chairman and CEO of SIFI Group, Gabriele Grecchi - CEO and Co-Founder of KLISBio, Filippo Piazza - Investment Associate of Angelini Ventures, Alessandro Porcu - President and CEO of OpenZone and Elizabeth Robinson - Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of Indaco Venture Partners.

A summary of the main insights and opinions of the speakers follows.

The importance of collaboration between corporate and startups

Today, many companies recognize the importance of adopting an open innovation approach to foster the development of new solutions and products capable of meeting emerging market needs. In fact, Fabrizio Chines, Chairman and CEO of SIFI Group, highlighted that "forming partnerships with digital health startups or working with partners with innovative technologies has become increasingly important for developing new products that have a significant impact on the lives of patients with ophthalmic disorders. Our partnership with VITA is just the first step in a broader open innovation process as we strongly believe that partnering with startups is crucial for launching new digital health projects in the field of ophthalmology. At the same time working with pharma and medtech companies can be extremely useful for startups to learn the best marketing and medical affairs strategies needed to interact with physicians and present their innovative solutions. "

Alessandro Porcu, President and CEO of OpenZone, also explained how "Zcube works daily to foster a culture of open innovation within the OpenZone campus in an effort to facilitate the birth of innovative companies. This means that over time we have supported several acceleration programs, including VITA, where startups have the opportunity to engage with partners from highly organized companies and better understand their gaps and the actual needs of the market."

The role of accelerators in growing the startup ecosystem

According to a recent Sifted article, there are more than 400 accelerators in Europe: all with a different focus but united under the common goal of offering startups and young entrepreneurs mentorship and consulting to help them move into their target market.

"In addition to having a great team and a bright idea, it is crucial for startups to have a strong science base and deep industry knowledge. Accelerators like VITA can offer everything that a startup needs to tackle fundraising. The network of mentors and partners is the element that allows startups to engage directly with the market and identify the best ways to further develop their products," said Filippo Piazza, Investment Associate of Angelini Ventures.

"From an investor's perspective," said Elizabeth Robinson, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Indaco Venture Partners, "we prefer investing in a startup that has already gone through an acceleration process. There are various reasons for this, but thanks to accelerators, startups are able to see the importance of having a structured team and gaining the necessary expertise to achieve all the milestones required for the growth of their business. Funding opportunities are increasing in Italy, but startups need to be quality companies to succeed."

Alessio Beverina, Co-Founder & General Partner of Panakes Partners, on the other hand, claimed that "Accelerators can play a key role in the growth of startups especially for early-stage ones, since they facilitate the matchmaking with potential partners and investors. These connections are important as they enable startups to understand the market, and in the case of digital health, whether their products meet a need. In fact, the true challenge for digital health startups lies in integrating their solutions into the healthcare system and having them used in the long term by physicians, patients or other players in the industry."

Accelerators are considered by Gabriele Grecchi, CEO and Co-Founder of KLISBio, as "key players that can create a support network for emerging startups. During the acceleration journey, startups are guided by mentors or more experienced entrepreneurs to understand market trends and recognize obstacles in their path. Accelerators then provide startups with entrepreneurial life experiences and best practices, receive advice and suggestions from experts."

After this panel discussion, our Alumni had the opportunity to meet for 1:1 mentorship sessions with some members of our investor network:  Alessio Beverina - Panakes Partners; Alessia Cerbone - LVenture; Filippo Piazza - Angelini Ventures; Elizabeth Robinson - Indaco and Hana Besbes - Heal Capital.

Wrapping up the day, our team, partners, and alumni that were in attendance enjoyed a networking aperitivo where they continued discussing and exchanging ideas.


The Vita Accelerator is a novel startup acceleration program launched by CDP together with Healthware and Accelerace that aims to support a new generation of digital health startups.