Pharma giant Bayer is kicking off new digital collaboration efforts in the fields of cardiometabolic and renal disease, oncology and women’s health via a new initiative, dubbed the G4A Digital Health Partnership Program.
The program is split into two tracks, one for early-stage companies and another for more experienced companies. It tapped Caria, an AI and data company that matches people experiencing menopause to resources and treatments, and Elly Health, an audio companion that helps support people with chronic conditions for its early-stage track. These companies will get €100,000 and coaching by Bayer executives.
In the more advanced track, it selected Decipher Biosciences, a genome-testing company that also helps identify biomarkers; Sweetch, a company that uses AI to help patients manage diseases; and MyONCARE, which helps to coordinate workflows and care. Bayer plans on helping these companies score big commercial deals.
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WHY IT MATTERS
It’s no secret that Bayer is interested in the digital space. Today, the company hosted a conference focused on the intersection of digital and life sciences.
“For us, the vision is we put the patient at the center of their own care, and digital is really something that will allow us to do that. We see a whole new world of opportunities where the patient can take care of themselves, in terms of making some of the key decisions about how and when and what they need,” Mike Devoy, chief medical officer of Bayer AG, said during a panel discussion.
This change towards digital has the potential to disrupt the life science industry, he said.
“Just providing good, effective, safe medicine will not be enough in the future. We need to have treatments that really fit into that whole ecosystem of what patients require and need, when they need it, how they want it, and how it is delivered to them. So, I think it turns a lot of how we operate currently into a new direction,” Devoy said.
One way that the company plans on keeping up with the increasing digital demands is through partnerships.
“We are making sure we are front-and-center in the ecosystems, and all of the players are active, and we are going to enter partnerships that help us both on the transformation [of the] functional side [and] on the transformation of business side,” Marianne De Backer, head of strategy and business development and licensing at Bayer, said during the conference this morning.
“We are going to look for potential bolt-on acquisitions that can help us make a bigger leap in this space. This is incredibly complex, and healthcare is the biggest challenge we face, and no one can do it alone. So, again, ecosystem, consortiums, ways to share data and insights that are going to be relevant for patients are going to be critically important.”
THE LARGER TREND
Bayer has a track record of digital partnerships. One notable one was with diabetes company One Drop – in August Bayer led One Drop’s Series C funding round and announced new collaborations with the company.
But this wasn’t the company’s only major deal. In January, Bayer announced a new three-year partnership with Exscientia focused on using AI in cardiovascular and oncology drug discovery. As part of the deal, Exscientia could receive up to €240 million, including upfront and research payments, near-term and clinical milestones, and royalties on sales resulting from their work.