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Italian researchers abroad and a startup from Rome win the first Call for Ideas by Dompé.
The selected projects concern ophthalmology and the wellness area.

A 3D organoid retina on hardware chips to study eye diseases and a supplement based on intestinal microbiota to improve sports performance. These are the projects of innovation in Ophthalmology and Nutrition & Wellbeing selected by Dompé among the 86 proposals received from all over the world in response to the first "Side by Side for Innovation" Call for Ideas.

The open innovation contest launched by Dompé, an Italian biopharmaceutical company focused on innovation, has collected 48 ideas from Italy and 38 from abroad over a period of four months.

Closed in October, the Call for Ideas aimed at start-ups, academic research groups, public and private research centers, made it possible to evaluate 34 ideas for digital tools, 31 for technologies, 14 for new molecules or formulations, 7 for other areas issues. The projects of BIOND Solutions BV, spin-off of the University of Delft (the Netherlands) for the ophthalmological area and the one of the GeckoBiotech, startup in Rome for the nutrition and wellness area, were selected.

The BIOND project, Dutch but founded by the Italians Nikolas Gaio and Cinzia Silvestri together with the Spanish William Fausto Quirós-Solano, aims to unite the idea of the organisms grown by stem cells with the technology of Organ-on-Chips (OOCs). The OOCs technique consists of combining human tissue with a microfluidic chip to replicate the "in vivo" conditions. Once developed, the hardware will allow the creation of a retina model whose potential use will be in drug development, disease simulations and personalized therapies.

The Italian MicroBioPRO project by GeckoBiotech, designed by Daniele Verdemare, Cristiano Refi and Pier Francesco Rapisarda, intends to create food probiotic supplements designed for professional athletes. Through customized analysis with biomolecular techniques of massive DNA sequencing it is possible to obtain a complete mapping of the microbial families of the intestine.

The supplement will allow to balance the bacterial microflora in a targeted way, to maintain the intestinal mirobiota status, benefiting the metabolism, the development of natural energy levels and therefore the improvement of athletic performance.

Both startups will have funding of 20,000 euros, the maximum allowed by the Call for Ideas. BIOND will use it to optimize its patented technology based on the needs of academic institutions involved in the study of retinal diseases. The next step will be to insert the 3D retinal organoids into the chip, to generate a model and then perform the in vitro test.

MicroBioPRO, now under development of products and validation of diagnostic kits, will use the sum for the production and marketing of probiotics and kits themselves.

There are many innovative value proposals received in response to the Call For Ideas. After the screening of the Open Innovation team, Dompé and a group of 20 finalists were examined by an independent committee of five experts: Giovanni Staurenghi, professor of Ophthalmology at the Università Statale degli Studi di Milano; Marta Gaia Zanchi, professor of the School of Medicine at Stanford University; Oriana Ciani, associate professor in Health Economics at Bocconi; Pietro Blumetti, official nutritionist biologist of the Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI); Francesco Inguscio, CEO and rainmaker of Nuvolab.

Here are the other 18 startups that took part to the Call for Ideas:

Ophthalmology

  • NanoC-kit (France): a device that allows to preserve, transport and monitor the quality of the corneas before transplanting, in a pH and controlled temperature storage device
  • Bloo vision binocular training system (the Netherlands): a tablet that, through a game and a pair of glasses, trains the sight of children affected by amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • D-EYE (Italy): retina screening system using a smartphone that allows recording and sharing examinations among colleagues
  • Esculentin (1-21) (Italy): new antimicrobial peptides for the treatment and prevention of microbial keratitis associated with contact lenses
  • HydroBlink (Italy): products that adhere to the ocular surface able to ensure continuous protection and hydration, facilitating physiological repair in the post-operative phase
  • Postbiotic (Italy): ingredients for ocular drops based on post-biotics for the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis and Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis (VKC), blocking allergens and infectious agents on the mucosa
  • Targeting the K ATP channel (Italy): research project for a new treatment strategy in diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma by studying the molecular factors underlying ocular pressure
  • Research project (Italy): micromechanical model to understand the degradation of intrafibrilla bonds in the cornea
  • Research project (Italy): create a new generation of devices for quantitative monitoring of treatment in ocular proton therapy through infrared tracking

Nutrition & Wellbeing

  • Geras Solutions AB (Sweden): support systems through video chat and AI for medical diagnosis, clinical treatments and risk reduction
  • NeoSAFE (KuartisMED, PRIMADES) (Turkey): non-invasive device to assess the ability of babies to feed themselves, using machine learning on algorithms to monitor respiration and swallowing. The study has been applied to patients affected by dysphagia and neurological disorders
  • Sundose (Poland): hyper-personalized supplements made thanks to data collection on the user's health
  • BEETer AGING (Italy): research on the potential benefits of nitrate-based food supplements (NO3) in improving quality of life in old age by counteracting the negative effects of aging
  • RiAtlas (Italy): AI application that monitors the physical activities of patients with motor disabilities or in rehabilitation following cancer, infarction or affected by Parkinson's, supporting the decisions of doctors
  • MHS - Metabolic Health Solutions (United Kingdom): ECAL is a portable calorimeter that allows measuring the consumption of daily calories at rest and the efficiency with which cells use oxygen to produce energy, in order to optimize the metabolism in a personalized way
  • PatientMpower Ltd (Ireland): mobile app project to evaluate the levels of phosphate and potassium in foods of terminally ill patients suffering from kidney disease
    Diske Inc. (Finland): AI-based nutrition, sports and pharmaceutical coach to improve long-term lifestyles
  • Bacteriotherapy: next generation probiotics (Italy): project to isolate lines of microorganisms that can be used as new generation probiotics