On February 2, our vice president and founding partner, Enrique Castellón, participated in the round table coordinated by EIT Health within the IOT Solutions World Congress #IOTSWC23, in which the opportunity was given to discuss how new health technologies allow us to lead automating health processes, reinforcing connectivity, as well as favoring new technologies and infrastructures that drive value creation in the sector.
During the conference, the experts agreed that it is necessary to have more support that impacts the digitization of health and the health technology sector as one of the most important axes of the drive for reindustrialization in Europe.
Specifically, our Vice President Enrique Castellón, emphasized “the importance of an ecosystem that facilitates the relationship between small companies and large industry. If this is not the case, a lot of the knowledge generated is lost and at the same time we are made to depend on third countries, something that, in moments of crisis, as has been seen, is not recommended”.
In addition, he pointed out that “in digital health, start-ups are the agents that produce disruptive innovation, but because they undertake highly innovative projects and because of their small size, their activity poses a high risk. They need to be immersed in an ecosystem with access to established industry, research activity, funding and public administrations. Without that environment, your risk is multiplied enormously and the chances of failure rise regardless of the value of the technology.”
Along these lines, he added that “the example of BioNtech, not being a digital health company in the strict sense, is a good model of how a startup can progress in the life sciences technology sector. Being a start-up shortly before the pandemic, the alliance with Pfizer and the collaboration of governments anticipating risks, have turned it into a consolidated company with the capacity to develop multiple applications of its mRNA platform”.
Focusing on the relevance that BioNtech has had in the pandemic, it is important to highlight that it is also a good example of the potential of digitization in the field of medical technology and biomanufacturing. After the pandemic, and with a view to its new developments, BioNtech is committed to making exhaustive use of digital technologies.
He currently has two main lines of work. First, it is preparing to rapidly produce vaccines in the event of a new pandemic, which means anticipating the outbreak by a few months. This is currently possible thanks to digitization, and more specifically by applying artificial intelligence on the evolution of multiple zoonotic viruses with the capacity to make the leap and identifying, where appropriate, the first infections.
Secondly, it is preparing therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of tumors in an individualized manner, identifying the specific genome in each case. This type of custom development usually has very high production costs and there is only one way to reduce them: with computing and automation.
Lastly, Enrique expressed the need for health systems to encourage the entry of innovation in medical care: “It is not turning out to be easy. Public health systems offer great advantages as fundamental elements of the welfare state. They are universal and free. On the downside, they are very slow to incorporate innovation, partly for budgetary reasons and partly because of excessive bureaucracy.
Ultimately, the short-term vision that conditions the development of a powerful technological sector based on small innovative companies dominates.