Pilloxa is a Sweden-based digital health company focused on boosting patient adherence with a first in class platform that enables real-time capturing of adherence and a suite of services for efficiently managing clinical trials. At the first edition of SMP, Pilloxa was matched with Bayer’s challenge on telemedicine-based patient support programs. We are discussing with Francesco Mazzotta, Co-founder and CEO of Pilloxa, about their experience. 

As a short introduction to Pilloxa, can you briefly explain what features and benefits does your product bring to the consumers?

Pilloxa has focused on understanding the needs of patients taking multiple medications. Research suggests that patients want to stick with solutions that help them develop daily routines and organize medications. Two tools that patients are using in their everyday lives are a smartphone and a normal plastic pillbox. Pilloxa takes these tools and makes them smarter and adaptable. Patients stick with us because we help them focus on what matters: their lives not their diseases. State-of-the-art technology makes sure that the right information reaches the right patient at the right time. For example, the app reminds the patient only when a dose is forgotten thanks to sensors in the pillbox measuring in real time when a dose is taken. The system is fully customized to the individual using it, both their therapeutic needs and behavior.

Pilloxa’s patient-centric adherence platform is a prime example of a patient support program, and as such, it worked with Bayer during the first edition of SMP. As a former participant, what is your impression of the Startups meets Pharma program?

The program was a great opportunity to get first-hand contacts with change makers at top pharma companies. It gave us key insights on focus areas and recent developments. Furthermore, we could book relevant follow-up meetings at the HQ thanks to the ambassadors we met during the program.

In your opinion, what was the most valuable experience you gained from Startup Meets Pharma?

Building a sense of community around innovating healthcare. It is a great and important challenge for the whole society. This kind of challenge requires a joint effort from every stakeholder to create impact. It was inspiring and exciting to meet and discuss with so many talented and driven individuals in a very diverse and broad range of organizations.

Despite the shared interests and complementary assets, startup-corporate collaborations are not very common. Pilloxa, however, already had an existing partnership agreement with Bayer. Talking from experience now, what would you recommend to startups having trouble reaching the corporates?

I believe that startups need to address a clear problem and gap. This means focusing on really understanding the needs and the processes of corporates. Specifically, health tech startups must navigate the tradeoff between building future business models and integrating in current value chains. The balance between long term partnerships and short term revenue generation is as important as hard to create alignment around. There is no silver bullet for identifying the exact strategy, the key will be to hire people that have the ability to figure things out: dive into challenges, learn and take action.

As for Pilloxa and Bayer, have you extended your cooperation after the program?

Pilloxa and Bayer are working even more closely together to implement our technologies in clinical trials and raise awareness and to support the medical community on promoting compliance and adherence for their patients. We are collaborating on a broad range of projects and soon launching an initiative together with Bayer Scandinavia within cardiology. The contacts we initiated during Startup meet Pharma were highly instrumental in further developing our product and boosting the reach within the organization.

What is in the pipeline for Pilloxa now?

We have recently closed a financing round that gives us the opportunity to grow in Europe. Our platform will be used soon in multinational clinical trials. In the long term, we are working to create a new branch within adherence to medication. We want to lead the use of digital endpoints within healthcare and unlock the true potential of data. Pilloxa is here to help the best treatments reach patients faster and healthcare being sustainable.