Tech & Research-Based Innovations



A8 is a strategic R&D actor and business champion that specialises in commercialising research-based innovations.

In particular, we focus on technologies born and developed in European Research Council (ERC), European Innovation Council (EIC) and European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) funded research.

We work mostly within the life sciences and engineering domains, with deep tech as a technological focus area. Above all, we are interested in working with innovators that can contribute to develop sustainable & green solutions.

Multiple domains covered

You know the science,
We’ll be the technology entrepreneurs.

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How we can help you



  • Are you a Europe-based investor or startup working in the digital sphere?
  • Did you know that the startup landscape is undergoing drastic changes?
  • Are you keen on learning how you can make the most of this dynamicity?

The European Commission and Sofia Angels Ventures are organising a workshop all about the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) – a landmark legislation set to reshape the digital landscape.

The workshop will be running from 1pm to 4pm (EET) on February 20th at Sofia’s House of Europe.

Book Your Spot


Polish BioTech startup SeaSoil was crowned the Ventures Thrive cohort 1 winner at the VT Demo Day, held on 26th January 2024. The startup was represented by CEO Michael Cyrankiewicz, who pitched his way to success and secured €15k in prize money.

The Startup’s Mission

SeaSoil is fighting plastic pollution by transforming agricultural waste into a biomaterial similar to popular plastics.

The SeaSoil team creates this innovative material by putting agricultural and food waste through a biotechnologically advanced process which, in turn, produces new molecules similar to popular plastics, such as polypropylene and polyethylene. This material is also biodegradable in all conditions of microbial contamination (e.g. sea, soil, and forests), meaning that at the end of its life it will leave behind compost and other micronutrients commonly present in the environment.

These benefits, together with the material’s waterproof, impact-resistant, and durable nature, make SeaSoil’s product an ideal replacement for plastic in agriculture (as well as other industries).


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Are you an academic researcher looking to enhance your entrepreneurial skills, market knowledge and industry connections, allowing you to take your new technology to the market? OR

A constantly innovating enterprise wanting to incorporate new ideas from the academic world into your offering?

Venture Alliances offers a residency program through which academic professionals and enterprises get to work together hands-on, combining the theoretical expertise of the researchers with the practical knowledge, skills and attitudes of the experienced entrepreneur. The end goal of the program is the creation of new joint ventures or joint R&D projects.

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SynergistEIC’s latest initiative is looking to support 15 startups (5 EIC applicants and 10 non-EIC applicants) through a comprehensive six-month programme and €750k in funding.

How your startup can benefit:

1 | Up to €50k in grant funding

2 | Expert advice on business development

3 | An acceleration programme to increase your scalability

4 | Workshops tackling EU funding and procurement

5 | Opportunities to network with ecosystem players

Apply now!

Our Approach

A8 is a venture builder and strategic R&D actor aiming to establish joint ventures to support the journey of disruptive innovations out of the laboratory, across the valley of death, and into markets.

A8 elevates the technology, business and funding readiness levels of the innovations, develops them towards relevant applications and productises the technologies into an offering that is marketable either as a standalone business (start-up), or only for a handful of market players (out-licensing).

The collaboration begins without any ownership agreements. We start by working with our clients towards resource acquisition, R&D project establishment or market testing related work. Once the commercialisation potential is determined, we set KPIs to agree on future collaboration and ownership models.

We have now started investing modestly into open innovation collaboration and are looking to establish our own investment fund in the near future. In the meanwhile, we do carry out sweat equity investments for clients we already have a working relationship with. Typically, with new clients we work on a retainer and success fee basis. We are open to partnering in projects that give resources for technology & business development activities (e.g. EIC Transition).




At PHASE 2, Co-founding
team minimum ownership


TRL 1-2

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TRL1-2 – For ERC researchers

  • Define the initial commercialisation strategy
  • Apply funds from public sources for PoC



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TRL 3-4 – For ERC PoC grantees

  • Formalise the business and IPR strategy
  • Find pilot clients
  • Apply public and private R&D funds


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TRL 5-6 – For spin offs and startups

  • Define the offer
  • Validate in the market
  • Open seed funding round
  • Find clients


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TRL 7-8 – For startups

  • Setup legal entity
  • Establish operations and sales
  • Open Round A financing
  • Seek exit via IP sales


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TRL 9 – For growth

  • Accelerate sales
  • Internationalisation
  • Seek growth via Round B
  • Start seeking exit
Ecosystem stakeholders


We are constantly building our ecosystems and are in need of co-founders, partners, investors and test environments. Let’s work together.

Antti Heikkilä

Co-Founder and CEO




Sales generated


ERC researchers served

Startups, SMEs, Universities, Governments


Cut-off approaching

Planning to make the next ERC Proof of Concept or EIC Transition cut-off?

We can work with you to prepare the proposal. We also partner with eligible ERC PoC projects to identify the use case and mature the business idea. In EIC Transition projects, we can join the consortium and take on the role of ‘business champion’ to elevate technology, business and funding readiness, while managing communication & dissemination requirements.

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Meet The Team

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Antti Heikkilä

CEO, Board member

Antti has 20 years of experience in validating new technologies in demanding scientific infrastructures and applying them in tomorrow’s applications. Possessing engineering and business degrees, Antti has been establishing, operating and advising a number of businesses along the way. His superpower is building international academia/industry R&D projects and raising funds. 

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Mika Tala

Chief Research Officer

Mika is a multidisciplinary professional who has worked for firms, universities, research institutes and public authorities in several countries. Graduated with three master’s degrees in tech, business and social sciences, Mika has a strong background in management, technology and innovation, ecosystems, venture building, sustainability and academic research. His research areas have included the emergence of new technologies and industries, entrepreneurial ecosystems and publicly funded R&D projects. Mika’s superpower is coming with a research plan that allows academia and business to join forces in an instant. 

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Tuomo Pentikäinen

Chairman of the Board

Tuomo has a very strong background in commercialising research-based innovations and building startups. Earlier in his career, Tuomo built the biggest Finnish initiative for commercialisation of research-based innovations, the TULI-programme. After TULI, he has been at the helm of a number of technology start-ups. Tuomo’s superpower is ramping up businesses with very complex technology offerings.

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Sevi Tuominen

Senior Business Executive

Sevi has an extensive background working at many levels in corporate, SMEs and start-up companies in several countries. He has a track record exceeding 100M EUR of personal sales in tens of different countries and has led innovative projects that have been the first of their kind. Sevi’s superpower is in defining a coherent business strategy for virtually any technology he is challenged with.

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Heli Saario

Board Member

Heli has held various sales positions for the past 20 years. She has harnessed all the skills gained for training sales personnel in SMEs and large corporations. Together with Sami, Heli has trained over 400 sales people. Heli’s superpower is in understanding client needs and offering solutions they did not even know were possible.

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Sami Martikainen

Advisor to the Board

Sami is an expert in sales and has worked for 20 years in managerial and director roles. Sami is also an entrepreneur who has been running his sales consultancy companies over the last 10 years and rebuilt the sales operations for numerous clients. Sami’s superpower is “Sisu”. He just can’t give up until the deal is closed one way or the other.

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Júlia Albert Varela

Communication & Research Collaborator

Júlia is a life sciences professional with strong international research and communication expertise, acquired through her work both in the academic and industry arena. Julia is experienced in managing and communicating with different stakeholders and presenting innovations to key partners to encourage their engagement and collaboration. Her superpower is finding the right opportunities for new businesses.

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Jelena Vasić


Jelena is a biologist by background and can efficiently work on various research domains, including wine chemistry. Jelena’s superpower is in forming research reports in a glimpse.

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Benjamin Abela

Communication Specialist

Benjamin is an avid writer with a penchant for all things artistic. He is highly skilled in journalism, marketing, content writing, and graphic design. Following his bachelor’s degree in Communications, Ben is now reading for a Diploma in Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Malta. On the side, he co-runs a local theatre collective, for which he writes, directs, and occasionally acts. Ben’s superpower is creating imaginative ways to present an otherwise dull topic in an engaging format.

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Stephanie Farrugia

Administration & Project Assistant

A newcomer to the Acceler8 team, Stephanie joined in November 2022. Having worked in several roles in international publicly traded companies, Stephanie brings a wealth of experience in the areas of administration and project management. Her superpower is x-ray vision as she knows how to analyze situations before making decisions and values attention to detail.

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Maria Sapinska

Ventures & Partnerships Manager

Maria has a diversity of experience with an extensive background in corporate banking, financial services, management consulting, and the start-up sector, having worked across multiple industries and countries. Throughout her career, she has developed a deep-seated passion for innovative and disruptive projects that effect positive change in society, while also being mindful of the impact on future generations. Maria’s superpower lies in her ability to offer fresh and unique perspectives while also ensuring the seamless execution of all aspects of new ventures.

Case Spotlight


Developing a disruptive new approach to cancer radiotherapy

A8 and the Weizmann Institute of Science have received European Innovation Council funding to demonstrate an innovative, safe and cost-effective cancer radiotherapy approach based on electrons at high energies. Prof. Victor Malka’s team at the Department of Physics of Complex Systems have found a way to routinely generate focused, highly energetic electron beams by compact laser plasma accelerators in the ideal energy range for the treatment of tumours located deep within the body (such as prostate or lung cancer).

The final aim is to create a compact and affordable radiotherapy instrument, with lower irradiation effects on the adjacent healthy tissues and organs. A8 has been tasked with managing the commercialisation of the technology. During the coming years, we will work towards demonstrating commercial feasibility, enhancing acceptance among key stakeholders and improving investment readiness.

See more of our recent projects in the CASES section.

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Tomorrow’s technology piloted today

About Us

Roots in a demanding research environment

Antti, our CEO, started his journey at CERN in Geneva, where his mission was to get industry to attend to the R&D efforts of the Large Hadron Collider. He suddenly realized that in such a multicultural environment, one needs to build externally funded projects in order to enable intersectoral development efforts whilst avoiding political conflicts. This eventually led to the establishment of a number of challenging multi-million euro projects with partners in a number of countries, representing research organisations, universities, SMEs and large corporations.

Addressing ‘no ownership’ challenge in tech transfer

Being entrepreneurial minded, Antti aspired to achieve more out of these one-off projects. Then, Tuomo came along, and after a while, the two of them understood the real gap in the commercialisation of disruptive innovations in Europe – All the current players wanted to play on their own turf without any real risk taking capacity. The solution? A strong multi-skilled external team supporting researchers wanting to commercialise their innovations. Also, they quickly figured out that money is not a major motivator for any one of the stakeholders involved. They then recognised that there is a need to fix these shortcomings and create a venture builder that does not count on having the researcher trained as an entrepreneur, and facilitates direct market access through real-life pilots and R&D collaborations.

It’s a long journey, but we’re getting there

Now, years later, we have worked with over a hundred researchers, gaining expertise on all the steps involved in the long journey towards market introduction, growth and exits. Finally, we have arrived at a phase where we have started a more sustainable effort aiming at serving tens of cases yearly and creating 100-200 companies during the next ten years.

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We’d love to hear from you


Have an inquiry or some feedback for us? Fill out this form to contact our team.

+356 770 855 72


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