InnoStars, InnoStars

The Warsaw Health Innovation Hub launches its first Call

21st April 2022

The Warsaw Health Innovation Hub is gathering speed, launching its first Call in Poland to respond to the rising problem of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The project is carried out by EIT Health, in cooperation with the main sponsor – AstraZeneca and support of the Medical Research Agency.

#Nephrohero – The Race Against the Invisible Enemy aims to support projects in the field of chronic kidney disease, especially diagnosis and prevention. It is the first initiative to be executed as part of the Warsaw Health Innovation Hub (WHIH), the unique public-private partnership launched in 2021 together with EIT Health. The winner of the Call will receive funds to design and deploy a pilot solution that has the potential to improve the care of thousands of Polish patients.

Responding to the unmet need

In Poland, over 4 million people suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) [1], with just over 200,000 diagnosed [2]. It is the second most common chronic disease in the country, and it is reasonably straightforward to detect and treat in the early stages [3]. However, efforts to diagnose it might be viewed as a race against an invisible enemy. More than 90% of persons with CKD are unaware of their condition [4]. Undiagnosed and untreated, it progresses undetected and eventually leads to complete renal failure, necessitating long-term therapy or even organ transplantation [5].

“GPs, who have the most frequent interaction with patients at risk, for instance with cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, play a critical role in the early detection of CKD. Projects that can raise awareness of CKD, and innovative solutions to facilitate a diagnostic process, are much awaited and have the  potential to save thousands of lives” says professor Agnieszka Mastalerz-Migas, a medical doctor and the National Consultant in the field of family medicine in Poland.

The #Nephrohero competition operated by EIT Health InnoStars seeks for entreprenuers who develop digital diagnostic technologies, entities running nationwide health education programs, or teams adopting value-based healthcare to optimise prevention, diagnostics and treatment costs of CKD. The Call is dedicated to the Polish entities only.

Funds for development and implementation

The Warsaw Health Innovation Hub, the first initiative of this type in Central Europe, works to create conditions allowing for a quick transformation of ideas into products, processes, and services within the Polish ecosystem through the cooperation of leading industry actors, EIT Health and the government.

“Today, the Warsaw Health Innovation Hub consists of 23 entities; in the near future, we will launch new, very interesting, innovative projects, including those targeted at start-ups, young scientists, and medical entities, in collaboration with private partners” – underlines Sławomir Gadomski, Deputy President for Research Financing at the Medical Research Agency.

One of the pillars of the Hub is programmes created and financed by strategic business partners, who work hand in hand with the public side to test and implement innovative solutions. According to Wiktor Janicki, President of AstraZeneca Pharma Poland, who is the main partner of the #Nephrohero Call, the collaboration of public and private sectors is crucial to effectively fight against certain diseases.

From our global experience, we see that collaboration between the private and public sectors significantly enhances patients’ access to innovation. We are even more excited to collaborate on the #Nephrohero initiative, which addresses a very critical health issue, chronic kidney disease. When we join forces, this disease, this invisible enemy, has a far reduced chance of spreading”, summarised Wiktor Janicki.

The best project will be awarded with the grant of min. 85K euro sponsored by AstraZeneca. EIT Health, as a partner and coordinator of the Warsaw Health Innovation Hub-Strategic Partners platform, seeks to transfer its international experiences and models of collaboration to faciliate innovative medical, technological, and legal solutions to improve patient care and increase efficiency of the Polish health care system.

The competition guidelines, including complete information on project requirements, how to submit an application, evaluation, and result announcement, are available on the #Nephrohero competition website.

EIT Health InnoStars supports Strategic Partners of the Warsaw Health Innovation Hub, including IQVIA, Microsoft, AstraZeneca, Polpharma and Roche.


[1] MAHTA Sp. z o.o. Dostęp do świadczeń nefrologicznych w Polsce, 2019.


[3] MAHTA Sp. z o.o. , op. cit.

[4] GBD Chronic Kidney Disease Collaboration, Lancet, 2020;395(10225);709-733.

[5] MAHTA Sp. z o.o. , op. cit.

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