5 finalists of the BIO Startup Program have been announced


The finalists of the fifth BIO Startup Program, supported by the AIFD and executed by ReDis Innovation, have been announced. 12 bio-entrepreneurs participating in the program this year were evaluated by the jury at the BIO Startup Demo Day held on 30 March, and 5 finalists were entitled to participate in the world’s largest biotechnology organization BIO Digital Convention to be held between June 10-18. The finalists will make their final preparations during the second Bio-entrepreneurship Camp, which will start on April 1 and last for a month, in order to prepare for the BIO Digital Convention.

The fifth of the BIO StartUp Program, Turkey’s first and only biotech themed accelerator program, started with 12 start-ups selected among 56 applications submitted last year. Startups received mentoring and online trainings from expert trainers and leading professionals in the industry during the second phase of the Bio-Entrepreneurship Camp; the first phase of trainings were received last year. Bioentrepreneurs appeared before the jury consisting of prominent representatives of academia, public sector, investment, business world and NGOs during the BIO Startup Demo Day held on March 30. The members of the jury, who listened to the innovative projects directed their questions to participating startups. Demo Day finalists gained the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest biotechnology organization BIO Digital Convention, which will be held digitally between June 10-18, 2021.

In the second Bio-Entrepreneurship Camp to be held prior to the BIO Digital Convention, bio-entrepreneurs will have fruitful contacts with key contacts around the world for a month and work together with the mentors to prepare roadmaps in areas they deem necessary, such as regulation, patent, communication and market analysis.

Cengiz Aydın, Director of AIFD Investment Policies, made the following statement about the BIO Startup Program: “We have seen many valuable projects in the program that we launched last year in cooperation with AIFD and ReDis Innovation. Of course, being a finalist is important, but we believe that getting mentoring from very valuable names who have represented the industry since the beginning of the program and completing their deficiencies in online trainings is an important achievement for all our startups. Thanks to the BIO Startup Program and our graduates, the ecosystem continues to support the acceleration of scientific and technological developments in biotechnology in our country. At the next stage, we will complete our preparations for the BIO Convention with the five finalists.  Our aim is for our finalists of our program to be selected for the Start-Up Stadium, where 50 startups selected from all over the world have the chance to present their initiative. I believe that this phase of the program will be an important opportunity to get in touch with different actors of the global biotechnology ecosystem and to have one-on-one meetings for their collaborations.

The five initiatives who made it to the finals in the BIO Startup Program are listed as follows:

1- Virasoft develops digital pathology software for clinical diagnostics and diagnoses.

The initiative developed by Bioengineer Gökhan Hatipoğlu and Computer Engineer Samet Ayaltı is on the use of artificial intelligence and digital pathology (DP) in cancer diagnosis. Expressing that they have products that will fully meet all basic needs in the field of DP, Virasoft Business Development Manager Özgür Teke said, “Our products are used in the leading private institutions of our country, especially in Acıbadem Hospitals Group, public institutions and Ankara City Hospital. “We have scientific collaborations abroad with the Koch Institude for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center”. Stating that they aim to lead the correct construction and development of DP in our country, Ayaltı adds, “We aim to enter the US market successfully afterwards”.

2-Funktor brings an interactive method to literature survey with its innovative search engine that processes medical information.

Built by Cognitive Scientist Erdem Ünal, ontology and artificial intelligence expert Assoc. Dr. Aziz F. Zambak, physicist Onur Yeşil and mathematician Tennur Baş, the initiative works on a new data structuring resource language. The product they developed, called “Carnap”, draws attention as a new type of medical information search and discovery engine. Carnap processes medical data using a new configuration architecture and presents it with an interactive interface that includes a different discovery experience, Erdem Ünal explains: “3 million new articles are added to the scientific literature every year, which means one new article every 10 seconds. The number of articles currently in the widely used PubMed / Medline database is around 30 million. Knowledge in life sciences doubles every three months. The biggest problem is not dealing with a large number of information items in limited time, but being unable to efficiently exploit the potential that this content can offer to the field of science and not being able to access the implicit information that remains in this multitude. Carnap aims to solve these problems. In Carnap, the results are determined not only by the search terms but by the relationships between the terms. Thus, the relevant results can be accessed even in the first step without the need for any adjustment.”

3- GlakoLens provides treatment for glaucoma with smart contact lenses, wearable reading, recording and tracking systems.

The initiative implemented jointly by Biomedical Engineer Özgür Kaya, Electronics Engineer Günhan Dündar, Electronics Engineer Arda Deniz Yalçınkaya and Electronics Engineer Hamdi Torun, develops contact lenses that monitor eye pressure. 70 million patients in the world and 1 million patients in Turkey suffer from glaucoma, the second most important cause of preventable blindness. There is no known and permanent treatment for vision loss due to glaucoma. High eye pressure causes the most common form of glaucoma. Özgür Kaya, General Manager of GlakoLens, makes the following statement about their initiatives: “Since eye pressure varies during the day and night, it is critical to take regular measurements for 24 hours. As GlakoLens, we aim to offer solutions in this area. With the biosensor system embedded in the contact lens we have developed, we focus on a personalized glaucoma management that can be accurately diagnosed by ophthalmologists by monitoring eye pressure fluctuations for 24 hours. GlakoLens will focus on other medical applications of its patented biosensor technology, after making contact lenses for eye pressure monitoring available to the whole world. “ 

4- GlaucoT develops neuroprotective glaucoma treatment with drug-free and non-invasive techniques.

The initiative implemented by Electronics Engineer Veysel Özkapıcı and Ophtalmologist Op. Dr. Abdulkadir Oduncu aims to produce a permanent solution for eye pressure disease (glaucoma) with the GlaucoT device. Stating that GlaucoT is the first treatment method in the world to offer a non-invasive neuron-sparing treatment, different from traditional glaucoma treatment methods, Op. Dr. Abdulkadir Oduncu said, “With GlaucoT, we aim to correct the neuronal damage that occurs in the eyes and brain by using a special glasses for an hour daily in patients’ homes. GlaucoT glasses, developed with innovative technology, balances the translaminar pressure in the optic nerve caused by glaucoma with a customised vacuum around the eye. It helps the neuronal damage to regress in the visual center in the brain with the light that vibrates at a frequency of 40 Hz at the same time. There is no other treatment method in the world that targets toxic proteins that accumulate in the eyes and brain in glaucoma. “It will be possible to regress neuronal inflammation with GlaucoT treatment,” he says. Veysel Özkapıcı states that in the last quarter of 2021, they can offer a permanent product to patients affected by this disease and who are about to lose their visual function.

5- Oruba Teknoloji & Innovation develops point of care devices that can work without an operator with robotic process automation.

The initiative brought to life by Utku Ulusahin has developed the world’s first uroflowmeter device that can work without an operator. The “Oruflow” product, which has CE and FDA approval, is used in more than 150 health institutions in 12 countries as of 2021. With the advancement of the innovation studies of the product, the urinalysis tests, which can take up to a day to be completed in health institutions, will be done in three minutes. Thanks to the system, the test is carried out, the results are sent to the digital hospital system, and the system gets ready for the next test by cleaning itself completely without an operator. This paves the way for pre-diagnosis tests to be performed at homes as well as clinics.