EIT Health Germany Blog

Startup-pharma partnership that paid off – Interview with Kostas Saridakis, founder of Collaborate Healthcare

One year after the end of Start-ups Meet Pharma 2020, Collaborate Healthcare’s founder shares his view on the programme.

It’s been one year since Kostas Saridakis, founder of Collaborate Healthcare applied for the Start-ups Meet Pharma, trying to solve Amgen’s challenge on continuity in treatment strategy and treatment optimization for post-myocardial infarction patients. Looking back, we asked him what was the biggest outcome for his start-up and his take on a successful startup- corporate cooperation.

1. To begin with, what’s the story behind Collaborate Healthcare and what are the benefits it brings to the healthcare environment?

Collaborate Healthcare was born 2 years ago when we realized through a personal experience that, despite the life-altering breakthroughs in medical treatments that we see daily, the actual healthcare delivery process is still associated with high rates of harmful errors, breakdowns and communication flaws, especially when talking about chronic diseases. These issues can be tackled with digital health interventions and there are a lot of sophisticated products on the market yet they are primarily focused on hospitals and large speciality clinics. What we saw is that thousands of individual practices and small clinics, that probably manage the majority of ambulatory patient visits, are still burdened by unintuitive and ineffective legacy tools, and thus cannot improve further clinical outcomes. In this scope, we developed Collaborate Health Cloud, a digital therapeutics platform that helps physicians in individual practices and small clinics prevent, manage and treat effectively cardiovascular diseases which remain the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

2. Collaborate Healthcare applied last year to Start-ups Meet Pharma, specifically to solve the challenge proposed by Amgen. What was the motivation for applying to the programme? 

One of the main reasons that digital health solutions haven’t delivered the expected outcomes so far is that they do not provide sufficient incentives to physicians and patients to overhaul current processes i.e. we see a lot of ambitious but incomplete applications not effectively connected to the patient’s records or sophisticated yet patient-facing only apps. What is essential here, and probably the only way forward is to build solutions in collaboration with medical providers such as pharmaceuticals and medical insurance companies and make sure that the designed solutions provide sufficient usage incentives and benefit all stakeholders. Therefore the ability to meet and discuss on one-to-one basis with industry leading companies through Start-ups Meet Pharma was an amazing opportunity for us and fully aligned with our strategic objectives.

3. As a former participant, what do you think has been the most valuable experience you have gained during the programme? 

The experience was amazing and we definitely gained a lot of things. If I had to distinguish one outcome perhaps this would be the intelligence on the current industry needs we acquired from our discussions with the pharma executives. I.e. we hadn’t realized to the full extent the importance of patient risk stratification and following the completion of the program during which we received really amazing feedback from the Amgen team, we immediately enhanced our platform with additional features that help physicians identify and manage patients at risk even more effectively.

4. What have been, in your opinion, the main outcomes of the programme for your start-up? 

We were lucky enough to have been selected by Amgen to design and run a pilot in Greece which is undoubtedly a game-changing opportunity for us and the first wide industry validation of our solution. However, we also gained a lot of important insight on various critical aspects during the training part of the program, such as the upcoming VDR/IVDR regulation on medical devices. Lastly, we were really impressed to see that even after the completion of the program, we still have the support of EIT Health and exposure to new opportunities. Having said that, I think the program is an amazing opportunity for early stages startups like ours and I would urge even young teams to go ahead and apply.

5. How would you describe the relationship with Amgen after the end of programme? 

Really great! We have the pilot in the works and already discussing additional opportunities. And as I said earlier, with their input the team helped us take our product to a new level which is essential in our efforts to achieve a successful product market fit. 

6. In your opinion, what is the secret ingredient for a successful startup- corporate cooperation?

I think the startup has to really listen to the corporate needs and not be afraid to take the risk to adapt and amend the solution accordingly if necessary. The corporate is not likely to be flexible but the startup can. Also, make sure to effectively visualize the solution-proposal in all presentations i.e. with interactive demos which can be more easily communicated and understood at a corporate level that is usually associated with many stakeholders and multiple decision levels.