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The Pfizer Healthcare Hub – How it all began

Co-create, co-innovate, co-llaborate. We are the Pfizer Healthcare Hub, the link between Pfizer Germany and founders and startups in the health sector. Yes, we're part of yet another initiative to support startups. But this one's different because we're going at it in a more flexible, collaborative way. Read on to discover how the Pfizer Healthcare Hub works and where it all began.

Officially launched in November 2014, this program was initially called the Berlin Healthcare Lab and renamed to Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin in 2017. The close collaboration we seek with startups is captured by our motto — Co-create, co-innovate and co-llaborate. We're not here to accelerate or incubate; our mission is to work with different startups in various, flexible ways that best suit their needs. This may include mentoring provided by Pfizer’s network of experts, access to office space, market knowledge or hubs in other countries, and sales partnerships.

Our roots
We've been eager to explore the potential of digital tools in healthcare since the digital transformation started. We're convinced that digital technology can help improve the lives of patients worldwide. The idea behind the Pfizer Healthcare Hub emerged in the course of our daily work when some of our colleagues started talking about how Pfizer could put digital solutions into practice. It was a happy coincidence when various Pfizer teams chanced upon the same great idea—why not pool our many years' experience, innovative spirit, and industry insights, and then top it all off with some added agility and digital literacy? Disinclined to go it alone this time, we opted to team up with startups. The details of how we would go about cooperating with fledgling outfits were still fuzzy at this point, so we decided to go out and gather some intelligence. To this end, we reached out to the burgeoning startup community at our doorstep in Berlin. Talking to the various founders, we soon discovered that needs vary greatly from startup to startup. This led us to consider the best ways to support startups, while channeling their efforts into Pfizer's focus areas.

Flexibility and a spirited dialog
Scouting, a spirited dialog and trial-and-error figured prominently in the early stages of our hub’s development. When Pfizer teams met with startups, we soon realized that we were coming from different worlds. Even so, we dug deep and discovered common ground. And that's where we uncovered the key concept behind the Pfizer Healthcare Hub. This dialog showed us that one size does not fit all. It would take a flexible program, tailored jointly by both parties, to find the best fit and best possible support for the prospective founder or existing startup. That's what it would take to develop digital solutions that enrich Pfizer's therapies and products for patients. 

In addition to partnerships like this, we have also developed new formats to foster a dialog with startups and share our expertise. The Startup Sprechstunde, a Berlin forum for up-and-coming companies, is a case point. We're also engaging in startup challenges and hackathons to promote various digital healthcare topics.

Current projects
The projects currently underway go to show just how varied this collaboration can be. One example is Pfizer and Viomedo's joint effort to make it easier for patients in German-speaking countries to learn about clinical trials. To this end, we are providing access to all Pfizer studies conducted in Germany that are open to new participants. We’re also working with Cortrium, a startup that has developed an early detection sensor for cardiovascular diseases. As we had recently announced, Cortrium and Pfizer are planning to launch the sensor in Germany in spring of 2018. As part of this alliance, Cortrium will have access to some of our sales channels.

What are we looking for?
Our focus is on startups or prospective founders with business models and ideas in the areas of cardiovascular disease, inflammations, immunology, rare diseases, oncology and vaccines.

Building a global Hub network based on the Berlin model
The idea to cooperate with startups not only led to the Pfizer Healthcare Hub in Berlin; it soon caught on at other Pfizer locations. Today, there are hubs in New York, London, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv and Toronto—all modeled on the Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin.