Bayer’s G4A Program Aids Healthcare Startups’ Development

Claus Zieler introduces Bayer’s G4A program to assist startups. Photo: Bayer

Four teams in Taiwan are already receiving intense mentoring and assistance from a startup accelerator.

As a champion of innovation in the healthcare field, Bayer in recent years has been proud to conduct a program called Grants4Apps (G4A) to assist startups in selected markets around the world in developing new digital technologies and solutions for the treatment of disease. Last year Bayer introduced the program to Taiwan in collaboration with H.Spectrum, Asia’s leading accelerator/incubator focusing on healthcare.

From among many Taiwanese startups that submitted proposals, four companies in four different disease areas have now been shortlisted for participation in G4A. The program assists them by providing mentors and other experts to guide their business development, seed funding, media exposure and promotion, and networking opportunities through Bayer’s extensive connections. It also presents the possibility of eventual partnership with Bayer.

“At Bayer we firmly believe that innovation is not owned by any individual or any company, and that every innovation requires the contribution of many talented individuals,” said Claus Zieler, the company’s Singapore-based Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Operations for the Pharmaceuticals Division Asia Pacific. “The G4A is designed to tap into that broad base of innovation that exists around the world by employing crowd-sourcing.”

Photo: Bayer

During a recent visit to Taipei to participate in the mentoring effort, Zieler discussed the benefits of the program for both Bayer and the startups. “Through our existing R&D programs in certain disease areas and through our interactions with customers in those disease areas, Bayer has accumulated an enormous amount of knowledge, both scientific and marketing knowledge. That know-how is something we can contribute to the innovation process,” he said. “Startups may have great ideas – they have a lot of energy and they will pursue those ideas vigorously – but without the know-how of a partner who understands the potential pitfalls, it will be difficult to get that technology to market across the world.”

“Putting the creativity, the passion, and out-of-the-box thinking of a startup together with someone who has very extensive know-how in a disease area and in marketing across a wide set of countries is a very powerful combination,” Zieler said. “What Bayer also brings to the table is our longstanding interaction with customers around the globe, which enables us to understand the challenges that the customers are struggling with and to distill those challenges into clearly framed questions for the startups to pursue. Getting the question right is a necessary first step in finding the right solution.”

The Taiwanese G4A teams and their areas of focus are:

  • Ophthalmology – Medimaging Integrated Solution’s digital hand-held diagnostic scopes. The lightweight apparatus eliminates the inconvenience of patients having to use pupil-dilating drops before eye examinations. It is also easier for physicians to use than the traditional tabletop fundus cameras, and enables digital photos to be uploaded to the cloud, facilitating telemedicine to remote areas.
  • Hemophilia – Yajan Tech’s Virtual Reality software development kit (VR SDK). Hemophilia patients undergo the pain of frequent intravenous injections to replace the clotting factors in their blood. The Yajan solution is to distract patients, especially children, with games and virtual reality content to assist them in overcoming the fear of injection, as well as to make for a more comfortable and efficient procedure for both patient and physician.
  • Cardiovascular – Sigknow Biomedical’s EZYPRO® ECG Recorder, a hospital diagnosis product that continuously monitors 14-day heart rate and rhythm. The patch is waterproof, sweat-resistant, hypoallergenic, and lightweight to make it convenient to wear. The AI machine-learning-based algorithm is highly accurate, clinically proven to increase the arrhythmia diagnosis rate by 3-5 times. The device has already received European CE certification and Taiwan Food and Drug Administration approval.
  • Women’s Health – Guzip Biomarkers’ smart screening to identify high-risk subjects for endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterus lining). Unlike most existing tests, this molecular diagnostic testing is non-invasive. Guzip’s biomarkers have the further advantages of high specificity and sensitivity, enabling early diagnosis and treatment.

“We have had fantastic interactions with the four short-listed teams,” said Zieler. “Their ideas are at different stages of development, but all appear to be very promising going forward.”

He also praised Bayer’s collaboration with H.Spectrum as an “excellent way of pre-selecting the startups that are the most interesting in the healthcare sphere.”