IMSA Award 2023 goes to BionIT Labs, the Italian start-up of the world's first bionic hand

I3P Startup

The Jury's Special Mention went to Next Generation Robotics, while the special mentions 'Best Sustainable Startup' and 'Women's Enterprise Scientific Observatory' to Sense4Med.

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The young innovative company BionIT Labs has won the 17th edition of the Italian Master Startup Award (IMSA), promoted by the Italian Association of University Incubators and Local Business Plan Competitions, PNICube, and organised in collaboration with the Innovative Companies Incubator of Politecnico di Torino, I3P, as part of Italian Tech Week, with the contribution of the Turin Chamber of Commerce and the patronage of ASviS, the Italian Embassy to the Holy See and the Israeli Embassy in Italy.

A medtech company specialising in the application of information technology to bionics in the field of Human-Machine Integration, BionIT Labs has designed and realised Adam's Hand, the world's first fully adaptive bionic hand. The start-up has to date raised more than €7 million in public and private funding, which supported the design and commercialisation phases of the device. Now available on the European market, the device will also be marketed in the United States from 2024.

"I am honoured to have received this prestigious award," said Founder and CEO Giovanni Zappatore, "a great stimulus that motivates us even more to continue our mission of helping as many people as possible who have limb differences. But above all, as the Jury confirmed the very high quality of the start-ups in the competition, being confronted with such innovative ideas, projects and talents only strengthens the desire for growth and innovation."

The Jury of the Award - intended for hi-tech companies born from the scientific research of Universities and Public Research Institutions (ERPs) with the best performance on the market within 3-5 years from birth - wanted to reward the revolutionary scope of the device. Ten finalists competed for a €10,000 cash prize, co-financed by I3P, and the chance to enter the radars of major companies and investors.

The Special Mention of the Jury went to Next Generation Robotics, a spin-off of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa born in 2020 that operates in the field of robotics applied to remote predictive maintenance in the field of railway transport. The Pisa-based start-up has developed ARGO, a robot capable of carrying out remote inspection of the underside of trains, the underbody of railway rolling stock.

The Special Mention 'Best Sustainable Start-up', funded by sponsors Nobento and iVision with €5,000, went to Sense4Med, specialising in the production of smart sensors - miniaturised analysis laboratories on small strips of paper - for the biomedical, environmental and defence sectors. The startup is led by Professor Fabiana Arduini, considered one of the world's most relevant scientists (Top 2% Scientist) and one of Italy's 10 emerging professors in the fields of chemistry, medicine and engineering.

"For the first time, I am attending a competition of start-ups from the Italian research world," said Andrea Alessandrini, Founder & Ceo of iVision Srl and Nobento SpA: "It was an honour to award this entrepreneurial project, which stood out for its distinct social vocation."

Sense4Med also won the Special Mention 'Women's Enterprise Scientific Observatory', conceived by OSIF of the University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', in partnership with GammaDonna and SearchOn Media Group, which offered €5,000 in services.

"Recognition of Sense4Med is perfectly in line with our objectives," emphasised Professor Sara Poggesi, coordinator of the Observatory, "because this start-up makes concrete the possibility of developing diagnostic systems for the detection of cystic fibrosis capable of converting the concept of 'hospital' into that of 'home-spital', in tune with the 2030 agenda envisaged by the World Economic Forum."

"This new edition confirms that the extraordinary experience of PNICube, a network of local networks, has succeeded over time in creating a very strong innovation ecosystem, the foundations of which we laid some 20 years ago when the theme of the University's Third Mission was still in its infancy," commented Paola Paniccia, President of PNICube. "The numbers of IMSA 2023 under the banner of social innovation and women's entrepreneurship, the two important novelties of this year's edition, the positive feedback gathered from our sponsors and partners, the social impact generated so far, and the strengthening of our network all bear this out."

"Israel is proud to participate in the IMSA Prize," commented the Public Affairs Counsellor of the Israeli Embassy in Italy, Smadar Shapira, who spoke at the proceedings. "We have a common goal for Italy and Israel: to create a sustainable future that ensures that the next generations can live with water and food security and energy resilience. Israel is happy to cooperate with IMSA's young startuppers in developing technologies that will help create a sustainable future."