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EIT Health Germany Rewind: A look back at 2021

Let’s take a moment to look back at the year, as we gear up for a big 2022.

As long-time supporters of the healthcare innovation ecosystem, we have witnessed many iterations, but we can say definitively that 2021 was a year of great achievements for European health systems. Between our supported start-ups reaching record-high investments and launching new programmes to support the digitalisation of the healthcare sector, we are thrilled to be part of the movement to build the healthcare of tomorrow. And it’s not just that. The demand for digital health technologies is hitting an all-time high; new corporate-start-up partnerships are coming together; the healthcare sector is showing a big uptick of interest for digitalisation of their operations and the government is showing unprecedented support. What a year for healthcare innovation.

We have had an amazing year, but these are the moments we think really made the year memorable.

January: Our partner community is growing!

We are thrilled to announce that as of 2021, Berlin Partners and Life Science Factory joined EIT Health’s first-class community and specifically our CLC as Network Partners. Furthermore, it was also our pleasure to welcome Novartis and Biogen onboard to support us in our mission. The two new partners are embracing the open innovation trend and together with EIT Health, they launched two programmes. Powered by Novartis Biome, an open innovation programme called Beyond Rheum was launched, seeking viable solutions to the needs of patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). Together with Biogen, EIT Health offered the Neurotechprize to promote promising technological solutions in the field of Alzheimer´s disease.

February: Putting cardiovascular patients in the focus with Rehab+

Only one-third of Europeans who suffer heart attacks have access to cardiac rehabilitation services. Amgen is looking to reverse the trend with a new Amgen-led education project, Rehab+. The new project is designed to future-proof cardiac rehabilitation and to make cardiac rehabilitation accessible to more patients in the immediate aftermath of a heart attack. This tele-rehab solution is supporting patients for a period of over a year and will help users assess their lifestyle post-heart attack, set personal goals to reduce risk, and make long-lasting positive lifestyle changes.

March: Highlight Report 2020 Baden-Württemberg is out!

We are fully committed to strengthening the regional innovation ecosystem and each year we implement new initiatives to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Baden-Wuerttemberg, financially supported by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Arts. In 2020 we connected powerful partners from business, research, education and healthcare with aspiring idea drivers throughout Europe, and supported local start-ups in reaching new markets and creating partnerships with industry giants. This is just a preview of the Highlight Report 2020 Baden-Württemberg. For a full overview of our activities, browse the report.

April: EIT Health Innovation projects MACH and CLOSE improve efficiency and patient´s lives

Financed by EIT Health, two breakthrough innovation projects are making lasting change! According to the Fraunhofer Institute’s report, the “Mobile Autonomy for Children in end-stage Heart failure” (MACH) innovation project was perceived very positively, enabling more independence and quality time for affected families. The report concludes that “the EXCOR® Active would facilitate a real revolution in the daily lives of children with heart failure and their families”. In the case of the CLOSE project, the Fraunhofer Institute came to the conclusion that the use of an AP system for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes could offer great advantages for both patients and European health systems, significantly reducing the hospitalization rate and cost savings of up to 4 billion euros annually.

May: The third edition of the Start-ups Meet Pharma programme is on!

In 2021 we partnered with five pharma companies: Abbott, Takeda, Merck, Amgen and AstraZeneca, to jointly organize this year’s edition of the Start-ups Meet Pharma programme. It’s been our privilege (and a lot of fun!) to welcome 18 new start-ups to the Start-ups Meet Pharma family this year. We kicked off in May with 8 days of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training, 13 workshops and 10 amazing speakers. June was reserved for Module 2 and intense discussions between the pharma companies and the start-ups. Only one month later, partnerships were discussed, joint projects planned and NDAs signed during Module 3. Congratulations once again to this year’s winners:  Breakthrough HealthWalk With Path LimitedImageensRenalTracker and PeakProfiling GmbH!

June: Huge funding success for EIT Health Catapult finalist ADVITOS! 

It’s always nice to see our start-ups being recognized for their amazing work. This is the case of ADVITOS, an EIT Health Catapult finalist in 2019 that completed a €20 M funding round led by Crédit Mutuel Equity, with a co-investment from the EU EIC Fund. Their innovative muti-organ failure therapy solution provides an integrated 4-in-1 multi-organ support therapy that enables simultaneous support of all three main detoxification organs – liver, lungs, and kidney – and corrects blood acid-base imbalances. Pilot trials in critically ill patients have shown that this therapy increased survival in severe organ failure from 20% up to 50%.

July: Launch of the Start-ups Meet Healthcare Providers programme 

Healthcare start-ups are changing the face of healthcare delivery. We believe that it’s time for the healthcare sector to embrace new mindsets and leverage new technologies and we, at EIT Health Germany, are able to facilitate that process. Recognizing the potential benefits of technological innovation in healthcare, we launched a new programme this year, the Start-ups Meet Healthcare Providers. In 2021 three healthcare providers, Children’s University Hospital Latvia, University Hospital Centre Sisters of Charity and Diakonie Baden-Württemberg trusted us to connect them with promising healthcare start-ups, ready to tackle the challenges they faced in their daily operations. 14 start-ups went through a 4-month challenge-based acceleration programme and are now ready for the next step.

August: Joining forces with EIC for European healthcare innovation

As part of the Horizon 2020 funding programme EIT Health and European Innovation Council (EIC) signed a year-long pilot collaboration that seeks to create synergies between the two organisations for the purpose of enhancing Europe’s innovation and breakthrough technologies in healthcare. The collaboration will offer start-ups that have previously received support from EIC or EIT Health access to greater networks, increased financial opportunities, and more services – increasing the connectedness, effectiveness, diversity, and sustainability of the European life sciences and healthcare ecosystem.

September: On the road again!

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we were happy to return to face-to-face networking in 2021. September marked two events in our calendar. Firstly, it was a pleasure to host the EIT Health Roundtable Discussion during the KassenGipfel 2021 in Berlin, and hear interesting insights on the status of DiGA in Germany and Europe. We are also thankful for WirtschaftsWoche for inviting us to be part of the Weltmarktführer Innovation Day, where the highlight of the event was the final round of the Innovator of Tomorrow Award. Guess who won? Wild Card winner Smart4Diagnostics GmbH!

October: New Seminar Series

We launched a new educational series “Community and Education in Action” in October, organized as monthly 1-hour-webinars, to assemble like-minded intellectuals and professionals from our community to exchange ideas, thoughts, and views related to a specific EIT-Health topic, especially focused in the Education Pillar. The series offers a possibility among others to gain an overview of current education projects, consortia and opportunities as well as their successes, and to exchange proposals and experiences. The seminar series will continue next year as well, if you got interested, you still have the possibility to join them here.

November: EIT Health-supported PhagoMed is acquired by BioNTech!

We were pleased to announce to our community in November the acquisition of one of the EIT Health supported start-ups PhagoMed GmbH, by BioNTech. The move came as BioNTech is expanding its infectious disease portfolio capabilities by acquiring PhagoMed’s novel synthetic lysin technology for precision antimicrobial treatments in a bid to find new and alternative solutions to antibiotics that are losing effectiveness. The Austrian biotech company, PhagoMed, has enjoyed support from several EIT Health programmes, including the EIT Health Catapult (second place in the 2020 EIT Health Catapult competition within the biotech category) and Gold Track.

December: Four DACH start-ups reach the EIT Health Catapult finals! 

The EIT Health Catapult programme is arguably EIT Health’s flagship pitch competition and one of the 23 accelerator initiatives implemented in 2021. The program connects start-ups in the fields of BioTech, MedTech and digital health with leading experts and international investors. After several months of hard work, 42 start-ups pitched their solutions and competed for a spot at the finals in December. We are beyond thrilled to share with you that 4 of our start-ups made it to the finals, scheduled for May 2022 in Stockholm: Limula, ThinkSono, mentalis and Ebenbuild!

As the year comes to an end, we’d also like to take this time to thank all of our start-ups, partners, community & friends who have continued to support us in 2021. We look forward to 2022 as we drive healthcare innovation together.