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Pfizer tech startup accelerator will be a shot in the arm for healthcare innovation

Pharmaceutical giant invites startups to apply for its second Healthcare Hub: London accelerator, with the chance to share £50,000 funding

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer is inviting startups to join its accelerator programme, offering the chance to share £50,000 to fund their attempts to improve UK healthcare through technology.

The company’s Healthcare Hub: London scheme, now in its second year, awards funding to three established startups and gives them the opportunity to work with Pfizer over a 12-month period.

The London hub is one of several run by Pfizer. Others are in Stockholm, Sydney, North America, Tel Aviv and Berlin.

The aim of the accelerator is to boost businesses’ growth with innovative ideas to improve healthcare services for patients and staff. Erik Nordkamp, managing director of Pfizer UK, flagged this up as an area ripe for innovation.

“We are seeing remarkable innovation in healthcare here in the UK, with technology rapidly maturing to meet the needs of patients and clinicians,” he said. “Analytics, telemedicine and consumer-facing apps that accommodate multiple conditions are just some of the technological trends impacting health.” 

Harnish Graham, manager of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub: London, said these initiatives have the potential to improve many important parts of the healthcare system.  

“Digital maturity is coming to the NHS and other UK health services in 2018,” he said. “Technology is being used to explore innovation at every level of the NHS, to help address some of the serious health challenges that patient providers face.

“Taking incredible innovations and turning them into practical applications will be vital to help improve the delivery of healthcare for patients, while generating efficiencies so that health systems can meet the demands of the people they support.”

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Startups have until 22 April 2018 to apply to join the accelerator, and the successful ones will demonstrate their products to Pfizer leaders, along with NHS professionals and healthcare academics, on 17 May. The final three will be announced in June.

The opportunity to work with Pfizer after the competition will connect the winning startups to a network of contacts that can help push them forward.

“When we launched Pfizer Healthcare Hub: London, we set out to find the UK’s most innovative healthcare startups ready to transform healthcare,” said Graham.

“We were blown away by the UK healthcare startup scene’s potential impact for patients, and the enthusiasm to tap into Pfizer’s growing global network of innovation hubs.”   

The scheme’s 2017 winners were Cera, Echo and GiveVision. Cera provides home care services for elderly people, while the Echo app enables consumers to order their prescribed medicine and have it delivered along with instructions on how and when to use it. GiveVision offers a wireless headset that enables better vision for people with sight loss. 

The NHS is also developing digital services to improve the patient experience, as highlighted in its recent personalised health and care roadmap. Changes include building a new identification platform to enable people to view their medical records, and the full launch of the NHS Apps Library, a collection of healthcare applications available to consumers.

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