Vitala Technologies, a spin-off co-founded by IBEC researchers Irene Marco Rius and María Alejandra Ortega, and Gate2Brain, headed by former IRB Barcelona researcher Meritxell Teixidó, are among the 134 European companies selected for the WomenTechEU programme. This European Union initiative supports deep-tech start-ups led by women through funding, mentoring, and coaching.
On April 14, the European Commission announced the results of the second edition of the WomenTechEU programme, whose objective is supporting European technological innovation companies founded by women. In total, 134 companies were selected from nearly 500 applications received. From the selected companies, 26 are led by women in Spain, 19 of whom are Catalan. The recognition comes with an individual grant of 75,000 euros to support the company’s growth, as well as mentoring and coaching for its founders.
Although deep technology accounts for more than a quarter of Europe’s start-up ecosystem, women remain largely underrepresented in this industry. With the WomenTechEU initiative, the European Commission aims to promote women’s leadership and contribute to closing the the gender gap in technology and innovation. A total of 10 million euros have been allocated for this year’s edition of the programme.
Vitala is an IBEC spin-off that combines innovative bioengineering technologies, such as organs-on-a-chip and advanced imaging techniques, to offer unprecedented value in the research of therapeutic compounds in the preclinical phase and drug screening in the clinical phase. Vitala’s services can be applied to areas such as the pharmaceutical industry, dermocosmetics, and the agri-food market.
Vitala was co-founded by Irene Marco Rius, principal investigator of the Molecular Imaging for Precision Medicine group at IBEC, as part of the “la Caixa” Foundation – BIST Chemical Biology Programme, and scientific director of Vitala. The second co-founder is former IBEC researcher María Alejandra Ortega, who currently works full time as director of operations and transformation at Vitala.
Gate2Brain was founded in 2020 by researchers from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), the University of Barcelona (UB), and the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute – Hospital Sant Joan de Déu (SJD). The company is based on a novel technology developed at IRB Barcelona to transport drugs into the brain and seeks to increase the effectiveness and reduce the side effects of treatments for brain disease. Gate2Brain is headed by Meritxell Teixidó, formerly a Research Associate at IRB Barcelona and now the full time CEO of the company.