Through the establishment of Health Innovation Hubs, AstraZeneca is constructing a network of physical locations and virtual partnerships that will work to solve, scale and showcase innovative and holistic health solutions – a key step forward in our commitment to delivering truly patient-centric disease management.
Our Health Innovation Hubs focus on bringing together digital, R&D and commercial industries within Emerging Market countries to reimagine how we can improve patient outcomes. Our vision is to create and strengthen partnerships to accelerate innovation, increase access to healthcare and improve outcomes for society.
The first Emerging Markets hub to open was in Russia, July 2018. We’ve subsequently opened hubs in Brazil, Argentina, India, Singapore and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as well as mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
In partnership with the Skolkovo Foundation, the Russia hub focuses on the education of highly skilled pharmaceutical industry professionals, as well as R&D and additional joint research activities. The hub runs a start-up accelerator programme to help introduce innovative patient-centric products to market, two of which won prizes at the Skolkovo Foundation’s ‘Start-up Village’ congress: a non-invasive glucometer, and a system of using bio microneedle applicators for the painless transdermal delivery of vaccines and medicine.
An agreement between the Skolkovo Foundation and our China biomedical hub (the International Life Science Innovation Campus in Wuxi) continues to promote collaborative learning, encouraging Chinese and Russian companies to work more closely together.
We signed an MoU with the Brazilian Israeli Beneficent Society Albert Einstein in August 2018, launching the Brazil hub. This collaboration focuses on all of our therapeutic areas, and includes initiatives to foster early and late-stage clinical development. Through the acceleration of start-ups, and the implementation of educational programmes, we’re supporting innovation and growth for the future.
One key initiative from the Brazilian hub is a four-way collaborative project, involving our local incubator, Eretz Bio, local start-up EpHealth, and Professor Otavio Berwanger, Director of the Academic Research Organization (ARO) from Albert Einstein Hospital. The EpHealth start-up has an online platform, accessible to hundreds of public health agents, for registering and monitoring primary care diseases. By making available the health data of more than two million Brazilian citizens, sampled from across more than 3,000 small cities, this initiative is designed to form the basis of a scientific publication on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Brazilian patients, with the ambition to evolve into a Real-World Evidence database and tool.
In addition, in September 2019, in partnership with the São Paulo State Government and the largest public hospital in Latin America, the Hospital das Clínicas, we launched our second strategic partnership in Brazil: the AZ Brazil Health Innovation hub. This agreement aims to develop health solutions to streamline the journey of patients with lung diseases such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer, focusing on four key pillars: disease awareness, diagnosis, treatment and management. AstraZeneca Brazil is a co-founder of the Innovation Hub, along with the Hospital, and is responsible for expanding the relationship with the start-up ecosystem in Brazil. Within the Hub, a Start-up Acceleration Model is also under development to connect university researchers with start-ups.
Collaborating with the Argentinian Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, the Argentina hub focuses on Precision Medicine, working with partners across the science and technology ecosystem with the objective of identifying which patients could benefit more from innovation – a new paradigm for both diagnosis and treatment in Argentina.
A second MoU with the National Secretary of Health was signed in August 2019, focusing on adapting the genomics and bioinformatics platform with the National Administration of Laboratories and Institutes of Health (ANLIS), currently focused on epidemiological vigilance for infectious diseases, for genomic diagnosis in Oncology, associated with a guidelines update and stratified educational plan.
The India hub aims to address the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. It complements our strategic partnership with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), enabling us to run an accelerator programme for health start-ups to develop patient centric solutions, and supporting the thriving start-up culture in India.
One such solution, Heart Beats, created alongside start-up partner, Tricog, addresses local demand for early diagnosis and intervention for heart attack patients, improving outcomes by enabling cloud-based AI diagnosis of electrocardiograms, routing patients to the nearest cath labs (examination room in a hospital) through a hub and spoke model, and allowing for accurate diagnosis.
With NASSCOM, India is one of the first official partners for our China hub, guaranteeing a promising future for collaboration and innovative growth in both great countries.
At the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference, we signed an MoU with the Wuxi High-tech District to build an International Life Science Innovation Campus (I·Campus), in conjunction with the Wuxi municipal government – we recently celebrated the official opening of I·Campus, and marked the signing of its first partners.
I·Campus brings together innovative 4D (Drug, Device, Diagnosis and Digital) companies, government, medical and academic institutions, as well as investment partners, onto an open collaboration platform, helping to accelerate health innovation and sciences in China.
Leveraging our global R&D networks, industrial resources and business operation capabilities with cross-border partnerships, I·Campus is an innovative incubation platform that integrates R&D, demonstrations and commercial launching across the whole life cycle.
By March 2020, I·Campus had established a partnership with one sister campus, and attracted four strategic partners and 17 companies to join the campus.
Hong Kong, China
Our Hong Kong hub launched in partnership with the Society for Innovative Healthcare Hong Kong (SIHHK) and diagnostics company, Sanomics. The partnerships will help to develop innovative healthcare solutions in Hong Kong, as well as in mainland China.
SIHHK partners with Jiangnan University Affiliated Hospital, and Wuxi Health and Health Committee, to exchange and discuss future opportunities for collaboration around healthcare innovation, in order to develop better medical solutions for patients. This includes supporting plans to implement smart hospitals and health management models, using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, to design and optimise patient-centric care.
In 2020, the hub initiated a collaboration with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to use whole genome sequencing and computational biology to discover biological pathways implicated in Diabetic Kidney Disease (DKD), aiming to solve the current unmet treatment needs for DKD.
In February 2020, we signed MoUs with leading healthcare innovators and organisations in Singapore, focusing on using AI, big data and genomics to help people with diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and launching our Singapore hub.
Singapore is on a journey to become a Smart Nation, and has introduced government initiatives such as the National AI Strategy to further their ambitions. Along with its partners, our Singapore hub supports these goals, helping Singapore to connect with other leading biomedical innovation ecosystems through our global Health Innovation Hub Network.
Together with our partners, we are working towards three key aims:
1. achieving better health outcomes through healthcare innovation
2. co-creating economic opportunities and growth
3. supporting Singapore’s Smart Nation as a global innovation leader
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries
Following the introduction of the HealthGATE application in 2020 (a digital service designed to support the education, diagnosis and treatment of patients including diabetes patients) and the expansion of EduGATE (a digital community of local HCPs with access to innovative tools and enhanced learning) to GCC countries, an MoU was signed with UK-based tech partners, Gendius, signalling the launch of Health Innovation Hub in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
As their flagship initiative, HealthGATE does embody the promotion of global partnership and cooperation, to uplift local healthcare capabilities in Emerging Market countries. By utilising innovative AI technology to monitor the health and wellbeing of diabetes patients, making their data available to a large network of local HCPs, HealthGATE not only bridges existing gaps in the patient journey, but reduces the burden on existing healthcare infrastructure in the region.