Cyprus’ EMBIO Diagnostics has received an award for innovation in Covid-19 response, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced on Thursday.

Costantinos Louizou, CEO of EMBIO Diagnostics told the Cyprus Mail that ‘the process of evaluation was transparent. All 15 finalists gave their pitches online, and it was immediately apparent that the level of competition was very high.’ He added, ‘All things considered, the fact that we were able to win is fantastic. The judges clearly saw that our system has potential for international, wide-spread adoption’.

The company will share a total of $500,000 of mixed cash reimbursement and advisory vouchers provided by the EBRD. The EBRD provides tailored support for start-up ecosystems across Europe, and Cypriot start up EMBIO Diagnostics Ltd was among the winners of the first online ‘Start-up Innovation challenge.”

EMBIO is a science and technology company based in Nicosia that created the proprietary B.EL.D. (Bio Electric Diagnostics) device, related software and algorithms. B.EL.D is one of the very few multi-use handheld chemical analyser systems which can, in minutes, accurately detect bacteria and other harmful chemicals in food categories such as dairy and leafy greens. It aims to provide fast and accurate answers in a bid to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and infectious diseases, like Listeria.

Judges had to choose between 226 participants from 30 countries where the Bank invests. The competition targeted high-potential scalable start-ups that have innovated their business models in response the coronavirus pandemic, and was organised entirely online.

The winners share among themselves $500,000 of mixed cash reimbursement and advisory vouchers within the framework of the Star Venture programme, including business diagnostics as well as tailored one-on-one technical advisory support, mentoring and access to international investors.

The Start-up Innovation Challenge was open to companies worldwide. Other winners were Otismo from Turkey, an education platform for children with special needs, Fazla Gida from Turkey, a surplus management platform which helps to mark products for expiry, 1 Trolley from Egypt, a convenient goods delivery service and Plant an App from Romania, a low-code development platform that accelerates delivery of software systems by a factor of up to 40. The EBRD has been promoting and supporting start-ups in its countries of operations for over 25 years through advisory and investment vehicles including the Star Venture Programme, the Early-Stage Innovation Facility and the Venture Capital Investment Programme.

The EBRD’s mandate in Cyprus expired at the end of 2020 and the Bank has now ceased investing in any new projects in the country.