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Start-ups Meet Pharma: Teams tackle challenges set by industry

CLC Germany , Activity/Project News

Start-ups Meet Pharma: Teams tackle challenges set by industry

'We really gained knowledge, insights and impressions!'

04 August 2019
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Fourteen healthcare start-ups participated in this year’s premiere of the EIT Health Start-ups Meet Pharma Programme – and were equally enthusiastic in the end!


They were chosen out of around 100 healthcare start-ups from all over Europe that applied for this year’s first edition of the EIT Health ‘Start-ups Meet Pharma’ Programme : 14 start-ups that were invited by the German CLC and the EIT Health InnoStars to tackle five challenges set up by EIT Health’s top pharma partners, Amgen, Bayer, Ferrer, Johnson & Johnson, and UCB.

By setting the challenges these partners sought to find innovative approaches in the fields of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Skin Health, Telemedicine-based patient support programmes and Biomarker Measurement Platforms.

The programme started with the first of its overall four modules between 11th and 14th June 2019 at the Research & Education Center of EIT Health Germany based at the Marsillius Arkaden in Heidelberg. Lectures given by medical, scientific, business, and/or innovation experts of the Pharma partners were complimented with hands-on user-feedback sessions and some insights on optimal patient-centred product design. Two weeks later – during Module 2 - the participants enjoyed many insightful sessions on a range of topics such as IP regulation, business negotiations, business modelling, investing and financing, but also sessions on how to utilise EIT Health’s extensive network to develop strategic partnerships and conduct joint projects with EIT Health partners under the umbrella of the EIT Health Innovation Portfolio.

An essential part of this year’s programme was a Roadshow to all pharma partners being part of the programme, where the start-ups had the opportunity to meet relevant stakeholders  and gain valuable insights on the spot. The Roadshow started with a stop-over in Barcelona on 8th July 2019, where the teams of three start-ups, InSignals, Portabiles and Synoesis Therapeutics, presented their innovative products and solutions on Parkinson’s Disease to representatives of the Innovation and Business Development departments of EIT Health Partner Ferrer.

“We had a very interesting discussion with Ferrer. They really want to dive deep into motor symptoms of Parkinson’s patients and we will team up in the short term and see how we can contribute to their products with our gait analysis system.” Ralph Steidl, CEO Portabiles GmbH

On Thursday 11th July 2019 the EIT Health ‘Startups Meet Pharma’ programme made a stop-over in Rotkreuz, Switzerland for the Roadshow at Amgen. The start-ups e-Fasli, OHDA and Zendra Health had fruitful discussions with the directors and the senior managers of different Amgen departments and presented their digital solutions for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The week ended on Friday 12 July 2019 with another Roadshow event in Berlin, this time at Bayer. The start-ups GP4Research, Qapsula, Pilloxa and Zendra Health pitched their solutions at the Bayer CoLaborator and were given interesting insights into the work of Bayer’s innovation department.

“We worked on the Telemedicine-based Patient support challenge posed by Bayer and the idea was to understand how to implement Pilloxa within Bayer’s Patient support programme. We had fruitful discussions with the global organization of Bayer and now we booked around 15 meeting with key people of Bayer at the Berlin office. We will internally follow it up by understanding exactly now what is best to do…. we are possibly doing a EUROSTARS application together within a couple of months.” Francesco Mazzotta, CEO & Co-Founder Pilloxa

The second and last week of the Start-ups Meet Pharma Roadshow 2019 commenced on Monday 15th July 2019 in Brussels, visiting the European Headquarter of EIT Health Germany Partner UCB. A large number of UCB employees from different teams were waiting for the seven Teams to present their projects – many more UCB employees were able to follow the live-stream specifically set-up for UCB employees around the world. BestHealth4you, Dermus, Nova, Artificial Intelligence Expert, Ohda and Portabiles were the lucky ones to pitch their solutions and received valuable feedback and input from the UCB’s innovation managers.

“We are now engaged in discussions with UCB and one of their partners. The discussions and the training had a very high quality. It was very valuable to us. We learned and improved a lot and definitely changed our perspective about our own business and the strategy we want to follow.” Nélson Oliveira (CTO), BestHealth4U

The programme finished on Friday 26th July 2019 with a big pitch event, the Start-ups Meet Pharma Demo Day, at the EIT Health Germany Research & Education Center in Heidelberg, Germany. Having been trained and prepared with loads of information, insights and impressions from the pharma partners and other coaches the participants pitched their business ideas to a handpicked selection of potential investors and mentors, relevant EIT Health partner and potential new business partners.

“We had close discussions not only with senior pharma employees, but also with experts with deep functional & industry expertise! I especially want to mention our very helpful exchange with the EIT Health team (Matteo and Barbara, thanks a lot!) and also the close collaboration with our mentor from the EIT Health Mentoring & Coaching Network.” Jeremy Henrichs, CEO & Co -Founder, Health Companion

The quality of the presentations was equally high so that the jury decided to award three start-ups: BestHealth4U for their revolutionary new technology Bio2Skin, a biomedical adhesive, InSignals Neurotech for developing medical devices to support an objective evaluation of motor symptoms of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Nova, a WhatsApp-like chatbot that has been developed to empower families and individuals suffering from atopic dermatitis. All three start-ups will join the EIT Health Germany appearance at this year’s EIT Health Summit on 2nd and 3rd December 2019 in Paris, France.

The EIT Health Germany team congratulates all the teams for their successful participation and extends their gratitude to all the partners for their great contributions and support! We are looking forward to the next year’s edition of EIT Health ‘Start-ups Meet Pharma’ Programme.