The only constant in healthcare is change. New, evolving technologies are driving medical progress and improved patient outcomes. The Universitätsspital Zürich (USZ) – University Hospital Zurich – is spearheading this evolution by training the medical staff of the future, and supporting and conducting innovative research and development projects intended to benefit patients with new diagnostic methods and therapies.
We, the Innovation Management, are proud to present the Health Innovation Hub, a new program for projects with start-up potential. We are happy to successfully implement such a key initiative in the USZ universe. Through frequent inquiries about our history, we would like to walk you through the beginnings and our mission of supporting projects and start-ups within the medical field to improve patients’ lives.
How it started
Matthias Herrmann, our Head of Innovation Management (USZ) explains, “The idea of an incubator program or at least a form of support for projects with start-up potential has long been discussed within the USZ.” In 2018, the Direction of Research and Education, kicked off a concept phase to test USZ’s potential to create and support start-up businesses. Soon, over 20 projects were identified and put through a trial support process. After this successful concept phase, the USZ Health Innovation Hub was officially founded in August 2019. Through 2020, the Innovation Management set up the organization and a complete team was hired. Processes were aligned and documents were created. Since then, the Health Innovation Hub has already added four projects to the portfolio, with two more being in the final stage of onboarding.
The Health Innovation Hub has become a key strategic project of the USZ, enabling the identification of medical innovations which are then bundled and supported in a targeted manner. Similar initiatives, and comparable instruments to promote innovation, have been taken up by international pioneers such as the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States.
How it is going
With the Health Innovation Hub, we aim to play a leading and internationally visible role in promoting innovation throughout Switzerland. By evaluating up to 100 projects annually, and with the capacity of actively supporting up to 20 projects simultaneously with the current team, it intends to sustainably increase the innovative power of the USZ for patient benefit.
The current projects of our portfolio start-ups include the support and harnessing of artificial intelligence to evaluate mammograms, and researching the next generation of immunotherapies against cancer, to name a few. (Full list available in our Portfolio)
Today, we are USZ’s central point of contact for ideas, projects and start-ups. We provide a systematic innovation management with a stringent process and methodical manners of project promotion. We tackle typical start-up challenges, including defining business plans, a lack of entrepreneurial experience and business knowledge. Furthermore, we support fundraising through grants and other incubators, as well as professional investment rounds to some extent. Further, the Health Innovation Hub, in cooperation with the USZ Foundation and our Partners, supports the most promising projects financially.
As an applicant, you will go through our stage-gate process that comprises four stages: discovery, delivery, promotion and venture. (Detailed information available here: Program of the Health Innovation Hub).
„The benefit of the Health Innovation Hub”, so Herrmann, “is that our start-ups profit from the best medical knowledge from our hospital staff, from start-up knowledge from the Health Innovation Hub and enormous market- and investment knowledge from our Expert Panel and Innovation Board which consists of key opinion leaders, such as the USZ Director for Research and Education, the USZ Medical Director and senior representatives from our partners the Dr. Hans-Peter Wild Family Foundation, SWICA, Zürcher Kantonalbank and the USZ Foundation.”
- USZ-owned or USZ-affiliated projects, such as affiliations with the University of Zurich (UZH) or other institutions affiliated with the UZH.
- External idea providers (e.g. Research teams or other academic institutions) want to develop innovative products and services in collaboration with the USZ/UZH.
- A commercially exploitable idea (i.e., showing start-up potential) or one leading to open access offerings.
- A project beyond pure research activity, with potential market access or first-in-man trials within the next 5 years.
- A concept that increases the chances of healing and improving patients’ quality of life, while making medical care efficient and resource-saving.
Advantages of working with us
Matthias Herrmann says with conviction, “We are one of the largest hospitals in Switzerland and have a vast collection of historical medical data. Our staff, researchers and medical professionals are among the best in the world. The team behind the Health Innovation Hub brings together start-up-specific business knowledge and a deep understanding of the healthcare market. We also work closely with key opinion leaders in start-up financing and market knowledge.”
“Our start-ups not only profit from the medical expertise of our hospital staff, but also from our world-renowned experts in the field of medical- and bioinformatics, data science, artificial intelligence and clinical trials to name a few. Together with the Health Innovation Hub’s cutting-edge start-up knowledge and the latest market insights from our Expert Panel and Innovation Board,” he adds with pride.
Together with our academic partners and other benefactors like foundations, companies, and private individuals, the USZ can help ensure that innovations reach patients promptly. We, the Health Innovation Hub, are looking forward to supporting many more projects and start-ups within the medical field in the future.Let’s improve patients’ lives. Together.