Recently, we had the chance to sit down with our good friend, Aline Noizet. If you’ve ever been at a conference with Aline (and I have), this woman knows everyone and is generous in making connections to advance Digital Health in Europe and beyond.
What did you work on in 2018?
2018 was full of exciting new experiences with a focus on collaboration between startups and pharma. First, I was in New York for three months with Bayer to support the launch of the G4A Generator, a matchmaking program between Bayer and startups focused on consumer health. Then, I moved to Berlin to run the Bayer G4A pharma accelerator program with the six selected startups we hosted and accelerated for three months in Bayer offices. This year, I also spent time building community through meaningful connections in the digital health space, mainly in the US and Germany.
What emerging technologies do you think will advance Digital Health?
I’m a big fan of microbiome! I see a huge potential in understanding our body better, making sense of certain chronic diseases such as Crohn’s, and finding cures. The microbiome can also play a significant role in the prevention and optimization of our wellness and energy.
Genomics is another promising area. It’s moving fast and is at the core of personalized medicine. It helps to understand how patients respond to certain drugs or therapy, develop new drugs based on those inputs, and predict which treatment will be effective. In the future, pharma will develop drugs for specific patients based on their genomic profiles.
I’m also excited about AI to help diagnose diseases earlier when applied to radiology, for instance.
But the biggest advancement will come from the convergence of those technologies – using AI with genomics, for example, to determine the proper treatment for cancer patients.
A favorite event of 2018?
Exponential Medicine from Singularity University. It brings together key experts from the international healthcare scene and inspires patients to share their stories. It talks about the latest advances in genomics, microbiome, AI, stem cells, cancer research, neurology, etc., four days of mind-blowing content.
I also enjoyed the Data Natives conference in Berlin a lot, a conference dedicated to data in general, not just in healthcare. It’s amazing to see the power and potential of data and what comes out of their analysis. It is always very inspiring to see what is happening in other sectors and imagine its impact on healthcare.
What advice would you offer digital startups?
Understand your final users and involve them in the development of your solution early. The main pitfall for startups is a mismatch between the solution they developed and the user: it doesn’t meet the market needs, or the user experience is inadequate, ending up in low or no adoption.
Don’t develop a solution because you have amazing technology but because there is a real need in the market. If there is a personal reason that led you to create your solution, share it! It will give you even more credibility. If you are not here to make a difference in patients’ life if you don’t care, move on to another sector.
Your market is the world! Don’t limit yourself to your home market. Maybe another market will be even better and more adapted. Think big! But make sure you understand the healthcare system in other countries, how the markets work, and how to enter the best.
If you could change one thing in Digital Health, what would it be?
The regulation bodies! Yes, they are essential to ensure the safety of the patients and that solutions that are not safe don’t end up on the market. Still, decision-making needs to speed up and processes to be more effective and adapted to digital health products.
Amazing startups are developing innovative solutions that can make a difference and impact patients’ lives. Still, regulation processes like CE or FDA create more hurdles for getting their products on the market.
It would also be helpful for those startups to have better support to file those regulation processes.
What do you think is the most over-hyped technology?
Blockchain! Everybody is talking about Blockchain and wants to use it, but Blockchain is a tool, and people should only use it if it makes sense with their solution and overall strategy.
Barcelona or Berlin?
I spent most of 2018 in Berlin and seven years in Barcelona before that, so a pretty relevant question. Both cities are very dynamic and top destinations for entrepreneurs. Berlin has a strong digital health ecosystem with critical players like Charité hospital and Berlin Health Innovations’ innovation arm. Both Charité and Helios (the largest European hospital group since they bought Quironsalud) have innovation divisions in Berlin that collaborate with external startups to do pilots to validate their solution. The different pharma groups in Berlin are very active in the digital health space offering different collaboration programs to startups: Bayer G4A, Amgen Technology Hub, Pfizer Healthcare Hub, etc. Berlin is also a great place to raise money with various VCs focused on Healthcare: Digital Health ventures, Earlybirds, Atlantic Labs, etc., and there are great institutions like Flying Health or the health division of Berlin Partners, supporting startups and connecting them with big players like pharma or insurance. Although Berlin is very active, the ecosystem is quite fragmented and may be missing a common place for all those different players to meet, contrary to Barcelona, who just opened the Barcelona Health Hub (BHH) in the beautiful Sant Pau former hospital, which is now a museum. BHH is a +2000 m2 space hosting digital health startups, pharma, insurance companies, VCs, and other players. This will be key in growing and consolidating the local ecosystem. There are only a few VCs in Barcelona investing in digital health like Alta. Still, the good news is, a new fund is coming to Barcelona, dedicated to digital health with a team from both Spain and Silicon Valley.
The significant advantage of Barcelona is for sure the weather and quality of life, which attracts many qualified engineers, founders, and corporate companies. On the downside, both cities are suffering from rents’ increases and the scarcity of available flats. I found it easier and cheaper to fly anywhere from Barcelona than from Berlin from a travel point of you.
What are you focused on in 2019?
In 2019, my keywords will be exploring, traveling, and connecting. One of my goals is to reactivate the meetings of our Health 2.0 España community that we started seven years ago in Barcelona to bring together the digital health community through regular meetups in 8 cities across Spain. In addition, I will give an overview of the latest global trends in digital health, sharing what I learned in 2018 and the cool companies I met.
In 2019, I will be supporting the amazing eHealth Hub team in bringing their services to the market by validating the market fit. (EHealth Hub is on a mission to support European digital health startups).
I am also working on different projects with the US, bridging the gap with Europe to help digital health startups enter the US market. I will spend time in Asia, too; I want to explore Singapore since a lot is happening there in digital health and Australia.
My 2019 will be a year for new adventures, new professional challenges, and surprises, and I’m very excited about it.