The announcement was made at the startup event organised in Helsinki, Finland this week.

Novartis unveils partnerships with Finnish startups Popit and Precordior at Slush

By Leontina Postelnicu
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Credit: Novartis

Swiss pharma giant Novartis has announced this week two collaboration agreements with Finnish startups Popit and Precordior, unveiled at Slush, a startup event taking place in Helsinki.

WHY IT MATTERS

Launched in 2017, Espoo, Finland-based Popit has created a solution to improve patients’ engagement and adherence to medication.

“We have a piece of hardware that we clip onto a medication blister, then we have an application that receives all of the data of you taking your medication on time, or 'off time', and also a cloud solution that stores all of that data,” Popit cofounder Timo Heikkilä explained at a Slush side event organised by Novartis this evening.

Users then receive messages based on their medication consumption.

The startup’s partnership with Novartis follows a visit to their headquarters in Basel, which took place last year, part of a delegation of Finnish startups and representatives from Business Finland and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.  

“With Novartis, we are looking to scale our solution, we are already having a collaboration in certain European markets in the field of neurology, but what’s actually really great about Novartis is that, like all major pharmaceutical companies, it’s truly a global operation, and it allows us to have a really great platform to start scaling up our product,” Heikkilä added.

Earlier this year, Popit also announced that it would be teaming up with Pfizer in an initiative aiming to support people taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis.

“The strength of our solution is its applicability for all kinds of medication blisters, which are the dominant form of packaging for solid drugs globally. At the same time, it does not require any changes to the packaging,” added in a statement Teemu Piirainen, CEO of Popit.

Meanwhile, Novartis’ partnership with Turku-based Precordior, founded in 2016, looks to support the development of technology that detects heart disease symptoms by using smartphone sensors.

“We have a product already which can detect atrial fibrillation with 95% accuracy, and why we are here today with Novartis is [because] we can also use exactly the same technology to detect heart failure. And we are doing clinical studies with Novartis to develop this technology further,” said at the event Marko Mattila, chief technology officer at Precordior.

The startup's application, called CardioSignal, uses sensors to measure heart activity. The data collected is then analysed in the cloud using machine learning.

THE LARGER TREND

This week’s news from Novartis follows an announcement from October that the company would be partnering with Microsoft on AI initiative focusing on drug discovery and development.

Last week, Boston-headquartered Biofourmis also revealed that it would start working with Novartis on the commercial rollout of a platform that uses predictive analytics to manage heart failure in large patient populations, as MobiHealthNews reported.

In September, we visited Novartis’ campus in Basel to find out more about the company’s digital strategy - and you can find our feature here.

ON THE RECORD

Commenting on the new partnerships, Antti Viitanen, managing director of Novartis Finland, said: “It is in everyone’s best interest that the right patient is given the right treatment at the right time. This requires fast identification of symptoms, but also patient’s commitment to treatment.”