Startups Meet Pharma Cohort 2020- The Boehringer Ingelheim challenge

Four startups were selected to tackle the Boehringer Ingelheim challenge on Portable Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Diagnostic Tool.

Sixteen startups from Germany, Austria, UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Italy, Finland, Greece, Spain, Estonia and Israel have been selected for the Startups Meet Pharma 2020 cohort. This year, five challenges have been released in collaboration with four EIT Health Partners: Amgen, Bayer, Beiersdorf and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Let’s take a closer look at Challenge#4: Portable Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Diagnostic Tool.

Interstitial lung diseases cause progressive scarring of lung tissue, which affects patients ability to breathe and get sufficient oxygen into the bloodstream. The chest high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) is currently the method of choice in ILD assessment. However, there is still high unmet need for screening and early diagnosis of ILD patients, especially in remote, rural areas. For that reason, Boehringer Ingelheim is looking for a solution which could potentially help a wider range of healthcare professionals, especially those in remote areas where access to ILD centers is difficult, to early diagnose ILDs. This tool could help to define the pattern of symptoms and increase the number of diagnosis as well as optimize time of treatment initiation of ILD patients.

A total of 12 applications were received for this challenge, and 4 were shortlisted: eMurmur (Austria), ArtiQ (Belgium), IPDx (Estonia) and Carbomed Medical Solutions GmbH (Austria).

Let’s take a closer look at their solutions.


Your solution to the challenge: Utilization of  lung sound AI, combined with eMurmur’s existing CE-marked and FDA-cleared analytics platform, to enable non-experts to perform ILD screening.

What makes it a good fit? eMurmur is a digital health startup specializing in machine learning for the analysis of acoustic data for medical applications. The company has a proven record of producing highly accurate AI-powered diagnostic algorithms and is the leader in automated heart murmur detection technology.

Major expectations from the programme: Building a strategic partnership for bringing lung sound analytics to market.

Long-term vision for your startup: To make expert-level heart and lung screening accessible to everyone and everywhere, saving lives and reducing a significant burden from healthcare systems.


Your solution to the challenge: Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are the main tool for evaluating the respiratory system. ArtiQ.PFT uses artificial intelligence to predict diagnosis based on data from these tests. ILD patients often undergo PFTs multiple times in their long diagnostic journey, but get misdiagnosed often. ArtiQ.PFT is able to recognize ILD from PFT data more accurately than pulmonologists, offering the potential to diagnose patients much earlier.

What makes it a good fit? ArtiQ.PFT is highly accurate for detection ILD with a sensitivity of 88% and a Positive Predictive Value of 82%. ArtiQ.PFT is easy to implement in the European healthcare system with CE marking in place, no need for additional tests or equipment and over 50.000 interpretation already performed in a clinical setting in several Belgian hospitals.

Major expectations from the programme:  From the program we expect to be connected to the right stakeholders at the pharmaceutical company. The program will allow us to move together with them through the different stages of the decision making process and come to a decision on further collaboration at the end of the program.

Long-term vision for your startup: In the near future, every medical professional will be supported by artificial intelligence in their daily practice. This will lead to improved decisions, giving back more time for human interaction and finally better patient outcomes. Our mission is to empower respiratory professionals with artificial intelligence to accurately and timely diagnose, treat and follow-up patients with lung diseases.


Your solution to the challenge: IPDx is developing a saliva based point of care test for interstitial lung diseases

What makes it a good fit? Our solution delivers a simple method to diagnose patients with ILDs, both in rural and urban areas.

Major expectations from the programme: Networking with our pharma challenge partner and others throughout the program.

Long-term vision for your startup: IPDx decodes the immune system to identify functionally relevant drug targets and diagnostic profiles. Our vision is to use our platform to facilitate the development of immune driven healthcare and bring precise diagnostics and therapeutics to market.

Carbomed Medical Solutions GmbH

Your solution to the challenge:  We have developed a unique handheld respiratory analyzer that will be factor 50-100 cheaper than laboratory respiratory analyzers. By this we enable screening and monitoring of lung disease at general practitioners and also for home use of patients.

What makes it a good fit? With our lung screening and lung monitoring we will help Böhringer Ingelheim to identify and monitor patients with ILD in a much broader scale than it is possible today.

Major expectations from the programme: We aim to create a project agreement with Böhringer Ingelheim to continue a collaboration after the programme. Furthermore, we expect to get to know inspiring other health start-ups and other pharma companies as well.

Long-term vision for your startup: We want to make the comfortable diagnostic method of respiratory analysis available for everybody and by this improve early disease detection.