Venture Challenge

Develop your business case guided by experienced entrepreneurs, industry experts and business coaches

The Venture Challenge is a 10-week programme to develop an initial idea – a breakthrough research result – into a solid business case. Participate and learn to build a customer value proposition, identify key risks and assumptions, develop a validation and de-risking strategy, build and pitch a Venture Plan and get connected to Life Sciences experts, investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. 

Since its start in 2008, the Venture Challenge has proven to be the most successful startup programme in life sciences therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices. See who participated in the previous Venture Challenge editions and read about the success of 15 years Venture Challenge . The Venture Challenge is organised as a collaboration between NWO and Health~Holland. in 2022 the European Commission selected the Venture Challenge as winner of the prestigious European Enterprise Promotion Award for its impact on improving the business environment for startups in Life Sciences.

The Venture Challenge Fall 2024 call is open for applications from May 7, 2024 until July 2, 2024 14:00
Due to the overwhelming amount of applicants during the previous call opening, we aim to carry out two Venture Challenges following the closure of this call. Therefore, you will find two timelines for the Venture Challenge Fall 2024 below.

How it works?

The Venture Challenge consists of a series of bootcamps and coaching sessions; it takes around three months from start to finish. Guided by a dedicated team of experienced trainers and challenged by your peers and industry experts you will translate your invention into a viable business idea.
After the bootcamps and coaching sessions you will be introduced to representatives of all relevant early stage life Sciences investors and you pitch your venture to the Venture Challenge jury, consisting of seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, who will then decide who takes home the €25,000 prize money. The winner of the Venture Challenge will be publically announced at a large life sciences business conference offering great exposure.


For whom?

The Venture Challenge is designed for first time entrepreneurs within the lifesciences. The program focusses on pharmaceutical products, medical devices, diagnostics and enabling technologies. Many participants have a university background. We also welcome participants who want to create a spinout from a (large) company. If you are not sure whether you fit the criteria, please contact us.

How to enter? 

  • Application for the Venture Challenge is done via the NWO website.
  • After pre-screen candidates are invited for an intake interview; a maximum of 6 teams are selected to participate.
  • To enter the Venture Challenge you need to have a team of at least 3 people, and participants are expected to attend both bootcamps (2 times 3 days incl. overnight stays), the final pitch event and winner announcement (this is done at a large lifesciences event).
  • Participants pay a fee of €2000,- per team of 3.
  • For more detailed information about the application procedure visit the NWO website.

Venture Challenge Fall 2024 timeline

timeline VC24 fall

Venture Challenge Fall 2024 timeline - EXTRA due to overwhelming amount of applicants during previous call openingVC24 Winter


Get the most out of the LS@W Programs: Read more about Expert Classes and Value Centre.