Startup one of the Top 10 most groundbreaking academic startups in NL

November 26, 2020

The ten winners of the prestigious Academic Startup Competition 2020 can use the title ‘Best Academic Startup of 2020’ for the coming year.

The winning startups were chosen by an expert jury after a thrilling final in which all 20 finalists were asked to pitch. The ten winners were chosen on the basis of their value proposition, the innovative nature of their technology, the potential of their business and earnings model, and their team composition. In addition to the title of ‘Best Academic Startup of 2020’ the startups will be introduced to a network of entrepreneurs, investors and other companies, and will have access a coaching programme with dedicated mentors.

Digi.Bio is a digital biology startup and bridging the gap between biology, software, and hardware by building digital laboratory automation platforms for scientific researchers to accelerate discovery of novel solutions to grand challenges in Healthcare, Food, and Bioeconomy. Digi.Bio is founded by a group of interdisciplinary engineers and scientists: Federico Muffatto, Frido Emans and Jelmer Cnossen. is based at the Amsterdam Venture Studios at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Federico Muffatto “We are delighted to be selected as winners in the Academic Startup Competition 2020. None of this would have been possible without ACE venture lab and SOS/HAXV which believed in our ambitious project from the beginning and the continuous support of Amsterdam Venture Studio, IXA and Vrije Universiteit for enabling innovation to be nurtured and scaled in the ecosystem they have created inside the VU campus.

We often see startups reaching the news with their impact but little is said for the key enabling partners that offer support, mentorship and most importantly a space where to grow and interact with state of the art research centers. For this we’d like to mention Dr Davide Ianuzzi, Director of Valorization at Faculty of Science at the VU who saw our potential, and for enabling creating a space where young companies could thrive, and  Dr. Imran Avci from the Biophotonics and Medical Imaging department, together with whom we hold the prestigious Eureka Eurostars grant in the pursuit of bringing scientific discovery to impact society.

Now, being named “Best Academic Startup of the Netherlands” is just the cherry on the cake of a fantastic, albeit challenging year for Digi.Bio. We are looking forward to growing even further in this amazing startup ecosystem at the VU and more collaborations with researchers, institutions and companies of this highly innovative ecosystem.”

Academic Startup Competition
The Academic Startup Competition is an initiative of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres, (NFU), Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (AcTI) and, and is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The aim of the competition is to put valorisation and academic spinoffs in the spotlight.

‘I am looking forward to following how these entrepreneurs help make the world a little better,’ said deputy economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer. ‘As innovative startups, they help ensure the Netherlands is a world beater when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, and that we can continue to develop smart solutions, create jobs and strengthen our economy. They embody the slogan “for every global challenge, there is a Dutch solution”.’

Pieter Duisenberg, chairman VSNU: ‘These fledgling companies show that the Netherlands’ academic startups have a pioneering role in creating ground-breaking innovations. This underscores the importance of our key aim: to be the number 1 ecosystem for academic startups in Europe.’

Constantijn van Oranje, envoy: ‘These winners and this competition show that the Dutch academic startup ecosystem is bursting with energy and inventiveness. The time is now ripe to further professionalise the transfer of expertise in the Netherlands. Knowledge is not enough in itself. In the end it is the market that decides if a company is successful, not the technology, and this is why you need entrepreneurship as well.’

Margrethe Jonkman, chairwoman Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (AcTI): ‘Economic activity and employment provide a solid starting position while innovative startups offer us the opportunity to advance into new areas. In congratulating these 10 winners, we are showing that we are both proud of them and of the ecosystem in which they developed. At the same time, this ecosystem deserves our continual attention, because new challenges demand new solutions.’