After searching through over 300 applicants, 16 promising startups were selected for the Expara VirTech Global Accelerator programme to be groomed and invested in. These startups hail from all over the globe – including Hong Kong, Australia, Israel, Singapore, Poland, India, Pakistan, USA, Belarus, Sweden, Thailand and Canada!
“Given that future pandemics are a question of “when” and not “if”, the COVID-19 pandemic will hopefully serve as a powerful wake-up call for humanity,” cautions the Expara Founder and CEO, Douglas Abrams, who lead the launch of the programme attended by international partners and investors on 16 June 2020.
As successful participants of the programme, these startups will receive three months of mentorship, inclusive of training and networking support, with an addition of up to SG$50,000 for convertible equity via a SAFE note. The program will culminate after 14 weeks in a “Demo Day”, with the participating startups being given the opportunity to vie for additional funding offers from various investors.
Looking beyond the current situation, these startups were chosen to tackle new pandemics or disruptions that could occur in our near future, under the 4 approaches of Detection, Information, Prevention and Protection, Mitigation. Their work would include solutions that bolster various medical-related industries, such as biotechnology and mental health, to advanced robotics, medical devices and digital healthcare.
For the 115 industry partners worldwide, it also marks a pivotal moment in the usual way Venture Capitalists (VCs) and Startup Accelerators interact and thrive. It is an interesting take to see how Expara shifts its services and startup support systems into the digital sphere. These adaptations are the result of disruptions caused by COVID-19, which spurred on an intensive three months of planning to make the new startup accelerator a reality.
Expara also announced during the launch that the National University of Singapore, have partnered up to be conduct a study in entrepreneurial strategy with participants of the program, aiming to understand how startups progress in virtual accelerators.
“The suffering caused by COVID-19 has been immense, but when the next pandemic comes, it could be 100 times worse, if we do not prepare ourselves for it. We hope that the VirTech Programme will be part of this preparation for the next, inevitable pandemic, by harnessing the power of innovative startups that can help us tackle and adapt to future pandemics,” concludes Abrams.
For some, who believe the in-person nature of pitches is a critical factor to imbue interpersonal connections, having to run the online pitching format is definitely a perceptual shift. But as Expara embarks on its new, entirely virtual accelerator programme – one of the first few of its kind – we couldn’t help but imagine these new challenges in the startup accelerator paradigm.
Ultimately, we can’t wait to see the fruits of these promising global startups in their quest to help mankind tackle and adapt in a post-pandemic world!