Bayer to back 11 international startups in various digital health enterprises

Bayer has signed onto sprawling new collaborations with 11 digital health startups spanning areas such as oncology, ophthalmology, pulmonology, radiology, digital therapeutics and cardiovascular health.

Formerly known as its Grants4Apps partnership program, the German pharma has consolidated the group’s digital health initiatives under the name G4A—pledging financial funding and research assistance. The 11 participants were chosen out of over 750 applications from 65 countries, the company said.

The program also paves the way for longer-term collaborations, including commercial development support to bring the digital health products to market, said Zsuzsanna Varga, head of Bayer’s G4A program, which is divided into two different pathways. 

The “Growth Track” grants early-stage startups €75,000 ($82,700 U.S.) for co-creating products, plus co-working space and mentoring at Bayer’s pharmaceuticals division headquarters in Berlin. Meanwhile, the “Advance Track” includes startups looking to co-create and execute commercial deals and includes incremental milestone-based payments.

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The Growth Track includes the U.K.’s Okko Health, developer of personalized smartphone software for remote monitoring of visual health. Wellthy Therapeutics, based in India, is working on behavioral interventions focused on chronic diseases. Litesprite, in the U.S., creates mobile games to help users manage stress, anxiety and depression.  

Germany’s Visotec is building a handheld, at-home optical coherence tomography scanner, while BioLum Sciences in the U.S. is developing a low-cost, point-of-care device to analyze airway inflammation. Upside Health in New York has made an app for chronic pain management, employing cognitive behavioral therapy and other resources.

On the Advance Track, the startups include Prevencio Med, a U.S.-based developer of blood tests and algorithms to predict a person’s risk of heart disease; Blackford Analysis in the U.K., with its marketplace of medical image analysis apps and AI algorithms; Canada’s NeuroTracker, makers of a cognitive training program; Carepay, a Kenya-based mobile health payment platform; and RelianceHMO, a health insurance company using data science and telemedicine in Nigeria.

Additionally, Bayer recently spun its artificial intelligence imaging collaboration with the U.K.’s Sensyne Health into a full-fledged LifeHub project, joining its innovation centers in Lyon, France, Berlin, Boston, California, Singapore and Tokyo and Osaka, each centered on its own area of expertise.