Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s pharma subsidiary, is looking to the digital health startup space for new ideas on predictive diagnostics and precision treatment. The company has launched a new nine-month startup accelerator focused on the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.
Startups will have until Sept 27 to apply to the accelerator and must focus their pitch around ways to improve treatment initiation with predictive diagnostic models and solutions or creating precision-treatment management tools that use biomarkers and contextual data, according to the organization's web page. The effort is supported by iPEPS, a French brain health incubator and EIT Health, an EU innovation network.
The program is offering the selected startups nine months of support and mentorship with members of Janssen and iPEPS. Startups will also have access to iPEPS Living Lab, which are housed within the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital system. The program was also developed to help startups connect with various networks beyond the sponsors including investors and subject matter experts.
WHY IT MATTERS
The pharma industry has continued to set its sights on the digital health world. Several companies are teaming up with startups or historically digital companies to conduct research, offer companion apps, or explore the world of digital therapeutics. We’ve even seen executives at J&J discuss the opportunities in the space.
“Very soon, digital tools will become part of clinical trials in many different disease areas [because] the cost of clinical trials is so high,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at J&J, said at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions last year. “If you have to have 300,000 people in an outcomes clinical trial, the cost used to be hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. Now it’s doable, and it very quickly will change the entire field. Virtual recruitment and inclusion, people being able to be treated at home, digital consultations – that will all help to do faster and simpler trials.”
Pharma is also notoriously well funded. This interest in predictive diagnostics and precision treatments could be an indicator of the next topics of interest for the industry.
THE LARGER TREND
Janssen has been involved in the digital space for a while. In fact, last year the company kicked off a completely decentralize digital clinical study, called CHIEF-HF. At the time of the announcement, the pharma company said that the trial will include no in-person visits and rely solely on virtual communication.
Johnson & Johnson has also teamed up with Apple to launch a new digital health study set to explore the impact of Apple’s devices – and a study-specific engagement program on cardiovascular outcomes among the Medicare population.