The Innovation Challenge: Novartis BIOME

At Novartis, the goal is to support patients, healthcare providers, and caregivers for safer, more effective, and efficient care.

The company wants to harness the potential of data science and digital technologies to facilitate medical research and development. The idea for the Novartis Biome was born from this, with the intention it being a bridge to help its partners become an extension of its teams, working with them in the simplest and most productive way possible to innovate and develop large-scale digital solutions.

At Frontiers Health 2021, Novartis hosted a challenge for digital innovation start-ups and companies to partner together in finding new solutions, with the goal of improving patient adherence in the areas of hypercholesterolemia and breast cancer.

Jacob LaPorte, Co-founder & Global Head of The Novartis Biome, kicked off the competition by introducing the super jury consisting of Marc Bachmann, Head Digital & Data Strategy and Solutions of Novartis Deutschland; Ottavia Barboni, Italy Lead of Biome; Jean Dietzel, BIOME Lead Germany and Timo Wasmuth, Head HE & OR, and Digital Innovation MA of Novartis Pharma Germany.

Start-ups were asked to highlight three main elements during their pitches: product presentation, project success, and next steps.

The first challenge posed to start-ups concerned ways to support patients with hypercholesterolemia in managing their treatment regimen. The first start-up to present was represented by Dirk Vooland, CEO & Cofunder of Pathmate. Together with their team of experts, they originated Manoa, a digital coach that helps people reduce cardiovascular risks, specifically hypertension.

Manoa is a medical device licensed in Germany, fully automated, and guided based on data collection. It aims to support hypertensive patients during routine visits and act as an intermediary between doctor and patient. Manoa also motivates and guides users to monitor and document their blood pressure, with medication adherence integrated into the story. Cholesterol is also a focus.

It succeeds in supporting patient behaviours and comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes, as well as nutrition and activities, while collecting a range of information and data that can be shared with doctors. The RCT saw the collaboration of 50 general physician offices and 1,000 patients.

The second start-up competing for the first challenge is Qualud, whose CEO and founder is Eudald Mas. A technological innovation company specializing in the healthcare sector, Qualud’s platform was created from a user-centered perspective by humanisation folks. They deliver digital health products based on research, envisioned as a basis for innovation by studying the context and needs of patients.

The company’s goal is to develop digital products that respond to a studied need and are then tested by users and validated with reliable methodologies. What they have proposed is Tonyficat, an integral platform aimed at monitoring and accompanying the treatment of obese patients in the gastric surgery process, but it can be completely adapted to any disease. The platform is currently in a pilot phase at Vall D’Hebron, Barcelona’s largest hospital used for weight loss.

They are currently working on the possibility of integrating rehabilitation in a way that effectively controls the correct development of the exercises performed by the patient. Their aim is to become the intertwining point between research, commercial interests, and educational institutions.

Another project they submitted is LIAR, a mental health platform made to accompany women from pregnancy to postpartum in order to prevent, monitor, and assist with motherhood-related mental health disorders such as postpartum depression.

The second challenge asks the question “How can we support women suffering from breast cancer in staying adherent?” The interest is therefore focused on new solutions to support these patients and understand together with caregivers the best path to move forward and live well.

Care Across focuses their attention on cancer-oriented adherence factors such as relationships with HCPs, family, perceptions of treatments being given, and everything related to the time of diagnosis. Their analysis is based on 864 cancer patients from five European countries.

From the analysis performed, there is important evidence of effectiveness such as a reduction in fatigue, nausea, constipation, and sleep problems. The platform has made important improvements for 1563 women with cancer in eight different countries. The next steps include collaborating with a partner with whom to build a targeted solution and obtain medical device certification.

And with this last project, our speeches ended.
Who will win? Stay tuned with us!

Author: Alessia De Metrio, Account Assistant at Healthware International

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