Thirona is a leading expert in AI-powered lung image analysis. By combining medical science and deep learning technology, Thirona supports principal investigators and sponsors with clinical trial data and pulmonary clinical care across the globe. This permitted Thirona to become a key player in the clinical trial market while validating its potential to enhance doctor’s medical decisions in clinical settings.

About Thirona’s EIC Accelerator project

Thirona is a leading expert in AI-powered lung image analysis. By combining medical science and deep learning technology, Thirona supports principal investigators and sponsors with clinical trial data and pulmonary clinical care across the globe. This permitted Thirona to become a key player in the clinical trial market while validating its potential to enhance doctor’s medical decisions in clinical settings. Thirona aims to integrate its cutting-edge technology by introducing THOR, Thirona’s end-to-end clinical solution, into the daily lung care workflow to optimize doctor treatment decision-making. THOR does this by automating the quantification of data on chest CT scans (in less than 5 minutes) and analyzing this information to generate tailored reports with interpretable biomarkers of the patient’s lungs. This enables lung doctors to help them understand their patients’ conditions so they can deliver personalized care. Moreover, it works throughout the imaging workflow from the radiologist to the lung doctor, permitting Thirona to reduce clinical inefficiencies (e.g., time-consuming manual analyses of CT images by radiologists).

In collaboration with ttopstart, the EIC accelerator was identified as a fitting funding instrument for Thirona to attract funding to validate THOR further and realize its ambitious goals of impacting lung care. This collaboration led to Thirona being awarded a 2.5M grant from the EIC to advance THOR so they can validate its use in hospitals and prepare for market launch.

Why collaborate with ttopstart?

Through multiple projects, we have grown our relationship with Thirona through positive experiences providing strategic benefits for both sides. This relationship led Thirona’s CEO to contact ttopstart again to help them navigate the complexities of completing an EIC Accelerator proposal.  

The FIT phase is crucial in developing a winning proposal.

Our FIT phase involves a screening process using a checklist and gap analysis to determine the company and project fit for a specific grant. Specifically for the EIC Accelerator, developing a high-impact/high-risk technology that can disrupt current or new markets is key. There are other critical factors to account for when determining a good fit, including an innovation that has demonstrated a TRL of at least 5, a well-balanced and experienced team, a comprehensive business plan (e.g., validated and well-justified assumptions, IP and regulatory strategy, proof of market traction, a good understanding of the market, detailed go to market and scale-up strategy) and financial plan (e.g., showcasing a funding need and return on investment).  For Thirona, we analyzed several materials and documents provided by Thirona. This was followed by a meeting in which we discussed their readiness to deliver a high-quality proposal as well as their weakness or gaps to be overcome during the project. Sometimes, this means there are unsurmountable hurdles or better times to apply for an EIC Accelerator. In Thirona’s case, the FIT revealed eligibility and some attention points that needed to be addressed while developing a competitive proposal.


Eva van Rikxoort, Ph.D., (Founder and CEO) – Why the EIC Accelerator :

As Thirona was in its 10th year of existence, we realized that with all the technology we have built and validated, we were ready to change our business model to really disrupt the market and make a greater impact. We were completely ready to make this leap, but it’s still a very risky leap. The EIC Accelerator was perfect for THOR because it’s meant to accelerate certain high-risk, high-gain opportunities, and that’s really what we were doing..


Plan, align, and scope during the FRAMEWORK phase

During this phase, we use a structured approach to align the project scope, strategy, outline, and planning. This framework can be used to start writing the short proposal (first stage EIC Accelerator). Before diving into the details, we aligned with Thirona on 1) The planning, including contact moments, sharing of materials, draft versions, and reviews, and 2) On the best method for positioning the project and addressing the open questions that still need to be answered before submission (primarily strategic). The framework phase is key in aligning the expectations for delivering the proposal.


Sanaz Berahmani, Ph.D., (Business Development Manager) on ttopstart’s project management role:

In terms of timeline planning, I think that’s very important because whenever you promise to send a document or finalize a review round, or have a certain meeting, ttopstart was always on time.
So really, being exactly aligned and sharing a nice overview of the next step.

Teamwork is everything in the writing process.

Submitting a winning EIC Accelerator involves navigating an extensive proposal process. Working closely through Teamwork with our clients and directing them through this process is critical to translating a good proposal into an excellent one. This collaboration helps to deliver critical documentation (e.g., letters of support, data management plans), persuasive and digestible writing of technical solutions, and a critical value proposition that is supported by business acumen (e.g., development of a pitch deck and market penetrating business case) to optimize the chances of winning the EIC Accelerator. For THOR, we integrated an open and adaptable collaboration with Thirona, providing continuous feedback for optimizing partner roles and tasks on the project. Our role included managing the project and writing significant parts of the grant (except for scientific sections and work plans). We also oversaw the expected delivery of certain materials (e.g., FTO analysis, business plan elements, financial plan, pitch deck, etc.), guiding Thirona through the development of their tasks. This cooperative partnership permitted us to overcome application hurdles to succeed with THOR and build Thirona’s vision and plans through a convincing storyline attractive to the EU and the EIC reviewer.

I would describe our collaboration as a team effort. We provided the input, but of course, we also received valuable input and insights from ttopstart on how we should phrase the text or where we should place our focus or what doesn’t really add value to the storyline. Together, we were able to think from different dimensions and define the best solution..

Eva van Rikxoort:

The writing and structuring of text was valuable. Next to this, ttopstart was always two steps further than what we conveyed. To me, this made our collaboration extra valuable and made me trust you as a partner to work with.

THOR’s thunderous next steps

With funding secured through the EIC Accelerator, THOR will now build on its technical foundation from LungQ to enhance its AI models to incorporate the first end-to-end AI product into the lung care workflow. This funding has shaped and energized Thirona, putting them on a path to realize their aspirations. In the end, closing this integration gap of AI into the clinic will open doors for the industry to dramatically improve the qualitative and quantitative information doctors receive from medical imaging to enable them to personalize and optimize their care.

As a strategic partner, ttopstart has already identified new funding opportunities including the winning of another Eurostar’s project. We are also will continue to support Thirona in accelerating the implementation of their unique AI medical imaging products and services.

About ttopstart’s Business Leadership team

ttopstart’s Business Leadership team supports entrepreneurial researchers and companies in bringing their inventions to the market. Thirona’s EIC Accelerator case is an excellent example of how we establish deep partnerships with our clients over time and achieve critical milestones to accelerate the introduction of impactful innovations. That includes preparing business-oriented grants (e.g., ERC Proof of Concept, Eurostars, EIC funding) to raise non-dilutive funding but also includes business strategy services (e.g., market research, business case/plan, and pitch deck development) to become investor-ready.

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“We have worked with several companies in the field. However, we valued ttopstart’s knowledge level of the actual content of the grant while working with them. It goes much deeper than just understanding the funding instruments. This was a good fit with Thirona, and therefore, we chose to work with ttopstart for the EIC accelerator.” 

-Eva van Rikxoort, CEO 

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