Bayer HealthCare starts its own accelerator – and it’s better than you expected

Bayer HealthCare appears to be the first pharmaceutical company that started its own accelerator. The company that made €18.924 million in turnover in 2013 “understands that innovation and healthcare cannot only be driven by the industry but also needs creativity.” This was announced by Christian Ullrich, Head of Marketing & Sales IT at Bayer HealthCare yesterday.

Bayer has partnered with universities and smaller companies before and started Grants4Apps, a crowdsourcing initiative last year. This year, it was turned into an accelerator.

Altogether around 70 applications were received. A jury of experts selected five from all over Europe to participate in the 3.5 month long program. Each startup receives €50,000 as financial support, meets mentors every other week and get free office space at the Bayer HealthCare HQ in Berlin.

The pharmaceutical company, however, does not take more than 10% equity in return.

Compared to other healthcare accelerators, Bayer provides around twice as much financial support. Most others give $25,000 for about 6% of equity.

While you might expect the accelerator to be a small side project for a long existing company such as Bayer, that is not the impression we got yesterday.

Before starting the pitches, Reinhard Franzen, Senior VP at Bayer HealthCare, welcomed the audience and underlined that this step in innovation is taken seriously inside the company. “150 years ago we were a startup ourself,” he states. Franzen later explains that innovation is happening, and Bayer wants to be part of it by supporting startups.

Before the five minutes pitches, each team’s mentor from Bayer introduced them.

The Startups

Cortrium: A C3 device that is designed to assess body surface temperature, activity and respiration rate. In addition, it has a three channel ECG to screen and diagnose cardiological diseases.

PharmaAssistant: To assure that people don’t forget to take the right amount of medicine at the right time, PharmaAssistant is a medication container that communicates with a patients’ smartphones. It sends push notifications as reminders.

Parica: Parica wants to develop a contactless detection system to analyse vital signs and make recommendations to specialists such as pharmacists. The team and idea is still very early stage.

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