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How start-ups are changing Czech healthcare: Principles of Open Innovation

1st July 2024

The seventh EIT Health Morning Health Talks, organised by DEX Innovation Centre, the EIT Health Hub for the Czech Republic, attracted close to 40 representatives from hospitals, public institutions, healthcare companies, and start-ups. The “Open Innovation in Healthcare: Innovators ↔ Challengers” meeting provided a space to share experiences and discuss advanced innovations in Czech healthcare.

The event kicked off with best practice examples from Denmark and Finland, presented by international speakers Rasmus Thomsen (Roche, DK) and Timo Alalääkkölä (OYS, FI). Panelists Jana Trdá (VR Vitalis), David Kolář (Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry), Petr Müller (Masaryk Oncological Institute), Jan Faflík (Tensor Ventures), and Jiří Fusek (Prague.bio) discussed strategies, partnerships and challenges in open innovation in healthcare. – “We want to help start-ups find ways to succeed in the healthcare system, show them funding opportunities and access to investors,” said Jan Kubalík, moderator of the panel discussion and representative of the DEX Innovation Centre.

Opportunities for Collaboration Between Start-ups and the Healthcare Sector

David Kolář highlighted that pharmaceutical companies actively seek opportunities to collaborate with start-ups. “Start-ups must establish a presence in the pharmaceutical industry, communicate openly, be assertive, and leverage the association for connections.”

The importance of personal meetings between representatives of start-ups and the healthcare sector was emphasised by Petr Müller from the Masaryk Oncology Institute. “Face-to-face meetings are crucial for both parties,” he said. “Platforms like EIT Health Morning Health Talks offer a valuable opportunity for direct engagement and discussion on challenges and solutions.”

Investing in Disruptive Technologies

From the investment fund Tensor.Ventures, Jan Faflík presented his vision of investing in deep tech start-ups. He stated, “We are looking for start-ups in the deep tech area, which is broad but encompasses all companies working on deep technologies. We enjoy investing in disruptive things that can change industries and have a significant impact on people’s lives, such as healthcare and build tech.”

Virtual Reality in Patient Rehabilitation

Jana Trdá, CEO of VR Vitalis shared successes in using virtual reality for patient rehabilitation. “When patients exercise with virtual reality, they exercise much more and for much longer. Because they do not see their own body in virtual reality, they can achieve a much greater range of motion than without virtual reality. All of these factors – patients exercising faster, more and better – contribute to quicker recovery, reducing the strain on the healthcare system,” says Trdá.

Challenges and the Future of Innovations in Healthcare

The EIT Health Morning Health Talks provided a platform for sharing experiences and also brought new perspectives and inspiration for the further development of Czech healthcare through innovation and collaboration between start-ups, pharmaceutical companies, and public institutions. David Kolář concluded the discussion by saying “it is important to see innovation in healthcare not as a cost, but as an important investment in the future of healthcare, and the state should be the main driver of this trend”.

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