12 Feb Sepsis diagnosis technology SepTec awarded €7.4m from the EIC Accelerator
Q: How did you hear about the EIC? Why did you decide to apply for the EIC and how many submissions took you to receive the grant/equity?
– We heard about the EIC grant through multiple channels; Irish tech founders & investors. We were recommended to go for it and advised that we would be perfect candidates given our technology market and TRL level.
It took us two submissions to receive the grant equity.
Q: Do you think it was an easy process to go through?
– Definitely not. We have 10+ years experience in grant writing and the level of thought and detail required for this grant proposal was something we had never seen or experienced before – it’s an intense process. The EIC Accelerator is the most competitive public funding programme in Europe with success rates of less than 3%, it’s no easy feat.
Q: Let’s deep dive into the details of the proposal: any general tips & hints on the overall documentation preparation?
– Time: This isn’t like most grants that can be put together 2-3 weeks in advance. This application requires so much preparation that you really need to start preparing for it at least 3 months before the deadline.
– Letters of Support (LOS): This is something we classed as very important. You may not have investment but a letter of support from an investor goes a long way. The same for distribution, regulatory etc. LOS are a great way to validate your business.
– Engage: Speak to previous winners & applicants is the best way to prepare for this proposal. They can advise on what was most important, where they struggled and what got it over the line for them.
– Pitch: Make sure the pitch is given just as much time and effort as the proposal as this needs to be submitted with the proposal and cannot be changed!
– Collaborate: working with a consultancy company like Lira is invaluable – they become part of the team, they know the process inside and out and know what it takes to prepare a winning proposal – it really streamlines the whole process.
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the “excellence” section of the proposal?
– Keep it simple, snappy and graphically appealing. Try to describe through graphics wherever possible. The evaluators have minimal time to go through each proposal so the easier & quicker it is to read the better.
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the “impact” section of the proposal?
– Same points as above. Think globally how it will impact societally, economically etc. Focus on the market opportunity & potential to scale in that market. Financial projections and value that your product will bring to your customers.
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the “quality and efficiency of implementation” of the proposal?
– This really needs a clear, detailed description of the route to market. Demonstrate that you know what you are doing, you have the core team, you know where there skill set gaps lie that require key hires, you know your stakeholders and channel partners. Take the opportunity here to really demonstrate why you need the EIC funding.
Q: Once you received the invitation for the second step in Brussels, how did you prepare for it?
– We talked to other applicants who had gone through the interview stage. With the support of Lira, EI and Antonio Soares from EIT Health we did many practice run sessions and went through a compiled list (100’s!) of questions asked in past interviews.
We read the proposal on a daily basis to make sure every sentence is imprinted in your mind!
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the second step in Brussels? More than on the specific questions, could you share with us how you felt the interaction with the panel went and what their expectations were?
– The panel were very approachable. There was a broad base of expertise and each evaluator asked questions with genuine interest rather than to examine which eased the nerves.
Time keeping was enforced. You cannot go a second over the allocated time for the presentation and same for the Q&A. Due to the time limit the evaluators really expect concise answers so they can cover as many of their questions as possible.
Sounds minor but really panicked us – make sure you have a form of ID on your person the first thing they request is to see your passport/driver’s license. Luckily we all had it on our person but could have been an issue if not!
Q: Would you recommend this programme to other SMEs?
– I would highly recommend the programme to other SMEs. It’s an intense and difficult process that requires determination and motivation. But the end result is game changing. It’s not often SMEs get the chance to receive such substantial amounts of non-dilutable funding. It can really pave the way forward for start-ups, particularly the higher risk, capital intensive early-stage technologies.
Q: How, in your opinion, the EIC is perceived among the investor community?
– The EIC holds a lot of credibility among investors. For us we are high risk, capital intensive and early stage and have found it hard to raise our first investment round. The EIC is specifically set up for products like ours to provide credibility and a non-dilutive financial run-way that validates and de-risks the technology enough to allow for co-investment with private investors which has proven very successful to date.
Q: Once you received the funding, how closely did you follow the project plan?
– We haven’t drawn down the funds yet. But we strategically prepared the EIC so that it aligned directly with our development goals and milestones that we want to achieve over the next 2 years.
Q: How has receiving the funding changed your company? etc. Product, company, reputation, interest from potential partners (strategic, commercial, etc.).
– The biggest effect it will have on our company is our ability to expand the team to hire the necessary missing skill sets and to finance the key developments that we need to achieve to get us to our next commercial inflection point. It’s had a positive impact on our reputation and interest from potential commercial & strategic partners.
Kellie has over 10 years’ experience in bio-nanomaterials, specifically the selective and sensitive capture of cells through novel innovations in the fabrication of the capture surface of which a patent is pending.
Her work has been published in multiple high-impact peer-reviewed journals and have successfully received over €500,000 in grant funding.
She holds a degree in Analytical science from DCU and a PhD in Diagnostics and Therapeutics from The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Dublin, Ireland.