From the Global Executive MBA to a Prizewinning Medical Startup

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A REVOLUTIONARY PROJECT IN MEDICAL ROBOTICS BY TWO SDA BOCCONI GRADUATES RECEIVED AN AWARD FOR STARTUP EXCELLENCE, PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC


ValueBioTech is an ambitious venture designed to revolutionize surgery. It is deemed so innovative that it won this year's edition of the Leonardo Special Startup Prize, which celebrates innovative excellence of the Made in Italy. The prize was delivered by Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace on March 2.
 
The awarded company was founded by two Global Executive MBA grads, Antonello Forgione and Avi Aliman, who have developed the MILANO robot, where the acronym stands for Minimal Invasive Light Automatic Natural Orifice. "It is a biomedical device," says Forgione, a clinical surgeon employed by the Niguarda Hospital in Milan, "which enables abdominal surgery without leaving scars. The surgeon enters his/her lancet through the body's natural orifices with no trauma for the patient and works from the inside thanks to a high-definition 3D vision system."
 
The idea was born in 2007-2008, when Forgione was one of the few surgeons in the world using such surgical procedure while not being able to exploit a suitable technology. "The startup was born in 2012 and also involved a group of engineers: we manufactured a prototype and registered three patents. But to make the product marketable a lot of investment was needed, and so the hunting for funding began, and that's where having attended the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) of the SDA Bocconi School of Management proved a major asset, since it helped us properly implementing the business plan."
 
Thanks to Aliman, who is Israeli, ValueBioTech submitted its project to the Ministry of Economic Development of Israel, and obtained a one-million-euro loan, which will actually be disbursed only if the startup succeeds in obtaining at least equal funding from other sources."This we have already done," Forgione adds, "thanks to a pool of Chinese, Japanese, and Italian private investors, who funded us for about €1.2 million." There are, however, additional compulsory steps that need to be taken, as Forgione remarks: "In 12-18 months, an advanced prototype should be ready to start testing. Then approximately another 36 months will be needed to start the first operations on human beings. All of this, of course, could de delayed a little, because the device will have to comply with medical safety standards that are understandably very strict."

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