The winners of the 2020 DT50 awards have been chosen, and the field was led by healthtech and greentech startups.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic struck, healthtech has been one of the hottest areas for European startups.
But since February this year, the need to bring technology to old medical processes — from vaccine discovery to how we book appointments with a GP — has felt even more urgent, with billions pouring into startups in the sector.
It was no surprise then that three out of the five winners of the latest DT50 awards, which is a joint initiative from Google, McKinsey, Freshfields, 468 Capital and Hering Schuppener to recognise European entrepreneurship, were health startups.
The winner of the technology category was iLoF, the UK-based company using AI and photonics (the study of light) to build a cloud-based library of diseases biomarkers with the goal to enable “a new era of personalised medicine.”
Being rewarded with the DT 50 will help us to empower even more people to lead better, happier lives.
The startup, which is backed by Microsoft’s venture fund M12, Mayfield, and Melinda Gates’s Pivotal Ventures, hopes to reduce the costs of clinical trials by 40% and the time it takes by 70%, initially focused on Alzheimer's.
It comes as drug companies around the world are hurriedly pushing forward with clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine, putting the idea of faster drug discovery front and centre of people’s minds.
The “Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation” was won by a company in a similar area, Ancora.ai, which is a platform helping ordinary people get access to clinical trials — and drug companies get a bigger range of people onto those same trials.
In the “tech for good” category, the winner was HelloBetter, a Berlin-based startup which offers online mental health courses. They have programs for mental issues including insomnia, stress, depression, chronic pain and panic.
This year they started a coronavirus course called “Calm through the Crisis”, helping people work through a difficult time at a moment when many people may not be able to physically see a mental health professional.
Not all of the categories were won by healthtech startups, however.
The two others were focused on “greentech”, technology that helps the environment, which is another area that has seen large investment in recent years and the European Commission has made a priority in its next budget.
One was Lition, a Berlin-based startup, which has established Germany’s first digital marketplace for green energy with a blockchain-enabled platform. It means that producers and consumers are connected directly to trade clean energy, says the company. It won the Consumer Business Model Innovation category.
Finally, there was a special mention for Enapter, which manufactures modular hydrogen generators. The European Commission has made Hydrogen a central pillar of its green energy strategy as well, announcing a new strategy in June this year.
Overall, this year 365 startups applied for the 2020 DT50 awards, coming from 26 European countries. The most applications were for the "Best Technology" and "Tech for Good" categories. Three of the four main winners had teams including a female founder.
The award has been a big boost to previous winners of the award.
This is a historic moment in healthcare.
One from last year was PlanA.Earth and founder Lubomila Jordanova said: "Winning DT50 added to our credibility, contributed to a tenfold sales increase and helped us stipulate our position as a sustainability and carbon management tech leader in Europe. We are still bearing the fruits of this success and are really grateful for the opportunity!"
Gerhard Koestler, the CTO of the fintech Raisin, a winner from last year said: "Winning the DT50 is an honour by itself but the fact that it also comes with the offer of workshops and other engagement from the global brands behind the award is more than a bonus."
"In the workshops organizsd for Raisin — with Google, McKinsey, and Freshfields — we gained real insights and, as you might imagine, unique global overviews. The teams working with us were thorough, investing over and above our expectations and sharing valuable resources with us, making the entire experience of being a DT50 winner a very rewarding experience."
This year, the winners were similarly delighted.
Hans Klöpper, CEO and cofounder of HelloBetter said: “Being rewarded with the DT50 will help us to empower even more people to lead better, happier lives through our evidence-based psychological online courses.”
Emily Jordan, COO and cofounder of AncoraAI said: “This is a historic moment in healthcare and with Ancora.ai we are meeting this moment with technology designed with and for patients.”