Innovation is central to healthcare, perhaps more than any other industry, so it has understandably been a hive of activity in securing insights from wherever they may reside. The desire to attract talented people from outside the traditional organization has prompted an enthusiastic adoption of open innovation within healthcare.
It’s probably fair to say that most of those applications have been of a traditional sort, with challenges set and prizes offered for those skilled enough to meet them. Bayer are taking a slightly different approach that is more akin to a venture fund.
The company, which turned over nearly €19 billion last year, recently announced the launch of its own accelerator fund. The company have previously teamed up with universities and other start-ups, and showed a signal of its intent with the formation of Grants4Apps last year. This crowdsourcing project has formed the basis for its new accelerator, which has received around 70 applications thus far.
These were scoured over by a team of judges, who selected five projects from across Europe to participate in a three and a half month long partnership with the company. Each finalist will receive €50,000 in financial backing plus have regular meetings with a team of mentors and office space at the Bayer HQ in Berlin. In addition, Bayer will take a small equity stake in each venture.
Now, it should be said that Bayer are not the only pharma company to have ventured down this path, but they have gone furthest down it. Their financial support for each venture is significantly more than most other companies offer, and there is a distinct impression that they are investing heavily in this, both from a financial and cultural perspective.
The five start-ups that secured support from Bayer are:
- Parica, a company that wants to develop a contactless detection system
- FabUlyzer, who are designing various wearable nanotech based sensors to determine how much fat was burned during a workout
- Cortrium, who have developed a device to assess body surface temperature, activity and respiration rate.
- Cardimoni, who are working on a smartphone app that provides you with a ‘doctor in your pocket’.
- PharmaAssistant, who work with patients to ensure they take the right medicine at the right time and in the right dosage.
Whilst none of these are likely to significantly shift the needle in terms of revenue at Bayer, it is nonetheless a telling indication of where they see the future of healthcare heading. It will be interesting to see how each startup benefits from their time under the Bayer umbrella, with each due to present their progress at a Demo Day in December.