Bayer's Grants4Apps accelerator funds its second crop of digital health startups

Screenshot of the MediKeep app--Courtesy of Google Play

Germany's pharma bigwig Bayer kicked off its Grants4Apps accelerator. It will provide up to €50,000 ($58,000) to 5 nascent med tech players, including one in China and two in Europe, where VC funding for digital health startups is 40 times lower than it is stateside.

The companies will have access to Bayer's lab facilities in Berlin for the first time, as the company expands the breadth of the initiative following last year's debut. They will receive 100 days of coaching and mentoring by managers and external entrepreneurs, as well dedicated office spaces at the company's premises in Berlin.

Bayer said it received more than 200 applications from digital health startups spanning 48 countries. The criteria used to select the 5 winners were maturity, product prototypes and their fit into Bayer's area of interest.

"With our 'Accelerator' program we create an environment in which to advance digital innovation in healthcare. We are looking forward to supporting the five digital health startups to further develop their innovative projects," Bayer HealthCare chief information officer Johannes Schubmehl said in statement.

Here's more about the recipients of Bayer's financial assistance:

  • Estonia's MediKeep helps customers manage their home medicine cabinet by keep tracking of medicines' quantity and expiration dates. The app also reminds patients to take their dose schedule. It is available via iTunes and GooglePlay. Grants4Apps invested in a similar company last year.

  • Germany's Viomedo helps patients find clinical trials of potentially lifesaving therapies. Its online portal aggregates information from 2,000 clinical trials that are open to patients in Germany, and provides information about eligibility and enrollment.

With a meager €100 million ($116 million) or less in annual funding for European digital health startups, the continent's young companies need financial support. But this year Bayer branched out, supporting startups in China, the U.S. and Canada:

  • Founded by Bayer entrepreneurs in China, Sendinaden Limited makes 3-D printed wearable devices. Its Pattern Breathe Mask filters air and gives customers feedback about their breathing patterns. It will debut commercially in 2016. "For niche devices, the fixed costs of coming to market and working with a large OEM (original equipment manufacturer) means that bringing such a product to the consumer is nearly impossible. By getting the consumer to 3D-print everything except for the electronics module, we can customize a solution for each consumer and at the same time reduce costs," the company's chief operating Vivian Hartmann told a local media outlet.

  • American hormone testing company Serona offers hormone testing and data management so that women receiving hormonal prescriptions for things like fertility and management of menopause can receive personalized therapies that are tracked over time.

  • Finally, Canada's Vitameter offers a handheld device to determine customers vitamin levels using a single drop of blood.

Our friends at FiercePharmaMarketing point out that Roche's ($RHHBY) Genentech, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Novartis ($NVS) are also backing digital health companies. After all, med tech can provide tangible benefits to their core competencies. For example, Roche ($RHHBY) is integrating an internally developed patient monitoring app into the clinical trial of one of its Parkinson's candidates.

- read the release

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