The Healthcare Hub Berlin
From a local lab to the starting point of a global hub network
The Healthcare Hub Berlin, the interface between Pfizer Germany, and founders and start-ups in the healthcare sector. A support programme for start-ups? Yes, but with a flexible and collaborative approach. In the following, we explain what the Pfizer Healthcare Hub is about and how it evolved.
Our programme was officially launched under the name ‘Berlin Healthcare Lab’ in 2014.
Since its renaming in 2017, it is known as the Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin. With the slogan ‘Co-create, co-innovate and co-laborate’, we seek close collaborations with start-ups. We consciously avoid adopting the role of an accelerator or incubator. Instead, we wish to engage flexibly, and follow a tailored, customized approach. Depending on the needs of the respective start-up this can include collaborations with mentoring by the Pfizer network of experts, access to market insights or hubs in other countries, and sales partnerships.
With great excitement we have been observing the great potential that digitalization presents for the healthcare sector. The use of digital technologies opens up new opportunities to improve the lives of patients around the globe. In the course of our everyday work, we began discussing how Pfizer could become more digitally savvy. Across various teams and functions the same idea evolved: based on our common mission we should add agility and digital literacy to our many years of experience, innovative spirit, and our industry expertise. Engaging with start-ups on this journey of transformation was clear from the beginning. However, at the time we were not sure how to collaborate with promising founders and their teams. To work this out, our first step was to get to know the start-up ecosystem in Berlin. Speaking to individual founders soon revealed that needs differ greatly from one start-up to another. So we asked ourselves: ‘How can Pfizer provide the best possible support to start-ups and how can we integrate these into our existing business units at the same time?’.
Flexibility and exchange
The first phase of our hub’s development was characterised by scouting, open exchange and trying out novel approaches. Discussions between our Pfizer team and various start-ups quickly revealed that two worlds were colliding. Nevertheless, we were able to identify common ground. Ultimately, we discovered that continuous dialogue is the Pfizer Healthcare Hub’s key to success. Our discussions showed that the best fit and the best possible support can only be achieved by offering a flexible programme developed jointly with prospective founders or existing start-ups. This is what it takes to create digital solutions at and with Pfizer in order to meaningfully complement our company’s therapies and products for patients.
Additionally, we developed novel event formats with the aim of promoting dialogue and exchange with start-ups, whilst sharing our expertise. The ‘Start-up Sprechstunde’ at the Berlin Hub is a textbook example of this. The word ‘Sprechstunde’ was chosen as a reference to the consultation hours with the local healthcare practitioner. In addition to this, we also host start-up challenges and hackathons on various topics from the digital health sector.
What are we looking for?
Our focus is set on start-ups or prospective founders with business models and potentially viable ideas in the areas of cardiovascular disorders, inflammation and immunology, rare diseases, oncology and vaccines.
Berlin – a role-model for global connectivity
Following the founding of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub in Berlin, other Pfizer sites around the globe began to adopt the idea of collaboration with start-ups. Today, there are hubs in cities including London, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv and Paris – all of them modelled on the original hub in Berlin.
The Healthcare Hub Freiburg – shaping the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing
March 2018 saw the opening of the Freiburg Hub as a complement to the Hub in Berlin. The production site is not simply a driver of the manufacturing, production and rollout of new pharmaceuticals, it also searches for, identifies and encourages the further development of digital innovations.