My friend Fard Johnmar, founder and president of Enspektos, recently identified a few issues facing the drug industry as it tries keep up with digital innovation in the health field:
- Pharmaceutical executives are flooded with digital health opportunities: Many startups and established companies are coming to drug firms with a range of innovations, from mobile health solutions to smart pills.
- Executives and leaders at these firms are having trouble triaging these innovations to determine which ones will meet key organizational, business and health goals.
- Companies are working hard to drive digital health innovation from within: A number of firms have created internal innovation groups that are responsible for locating, developing and supporting the integration of digital health technologies into their operations. There is a special need for this work in developing countries like Brazil and China.
Let’s take a look at some innovations “flooding” the drug industry and how the industry is managing that flood.
In my mind, the first drug company to attempt to identify and support digital innovations that might benefit healthcare in general and its bottom line in particular was Bayer Pharma AG in Germany. In 2013, Bayer started its Grants4Apps® program, which offers financial support to innovative healthcare startups and developer teams all around the globe! I presented presented at one of the first Grants4Apps meetings in June 2013 (see “Bayer Pharma Meets Pharmaguy Meets Healthcare App Startups“) and in 2015 the Bayer Grants4Apps® team received the 6th Annual Pharmaguy SoMobile Pioneer Award (see embedded scoop below)!
Since then, many other pharma companies have joined the “Pharma Digital Health Accelerator Club” as I like to call it. Here are a few members I have come across:
- Velocity Health, run by both MSD UK and Wayra, UK, held a demo day event and handed each of the winners up to £68k in investments (see MSD UK Joins #Pharma Digital Accelerator Club)
- The “Takeda Digital Accelerator” is designed to provide investment to new ideas that apply key customer digital trends to the healthcare space, with the goal of generating patient-centric innovations that can drive stronger outcomes (see “Takeda Joins #Pharma Digital Accelerator Club“).
- Johnson & Johnson Innovation announced the opening of JLABS @ TMC, a new 34,000-square foot life sciences incubator providing entrepreneurs shared lab space, private offices, and modular laboratory suites (see “Johnson & Johnson Expands Its Membership in the Digital Innovation Club“).
- Astellas Pharma Inc. and DigiTx Partners LLC have announced that Astellas has launched DigiTx Partners, a digital health investment company in partnership with MPM Capital, Inc. (see “Astellas Joins the #Pharma Digital Health Investment Club“).