Moebio, the Biocat initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the BioRegion of Catalonia, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. It is doing so with a consolidated program, d·HEALTH Barcelona, and a new one, CRAASH Barcelona. With these initiatives, Moebio has an impact on more than 2,000 professionals in the ecosystem every year, contributing new start-ups and healthcare innovation to the sector.
"Five years ago, the BioRegion of Catalonia had excellent research and other great ingredients, but we were lacking the talent: Moebio was Biocat's great commitment to creating it." This is how Montserrat Vendrell, now a partner at Alta Life Sciences, sums up how Moebio, Biocat's initiative to foster talent and entrepreneurship in the sector now celebrating its fifth anniversary, got its start.
Moebio offers several short and long training programs and is currently considered one of the most groundbreaking accelerators in Europe according to rankings by Digitalhealth.careers, Mobile World Capital, Tech EU and HealthStartup. Moebio receives support from EIT Health and collaborates closely with two of the main innovation ecosystems in the world: Stanford (Silicon Valley/Bay Area) and CIMIT (Boston).
Moebio was created at the same time as its flagship program, Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona), which is training its fifth class of future entrepreneurs and innovators in healthcare innovation this year.
Following the biodesign methodology developed by Stanford University, the d·HEALTH Barcelona fellows experience a whole innovation cycle over the course of the nine-month program. In multidisciplinary teams made up of fellows with degrees in the sciences, design, engineering and business, participants do a two-month immersion at a large Catalan hospital to detect needs that could become a new product or service.
During the program, the d·HEALTH Barcelona fellows work on the design, prototype, business model and funding for the solution they develop. At the same time, they acquire knowledge in medicine, business development, and design thinking and creative leadership skills from more than 70 international professors from the BioRegion, Boston and Stanford, among others.
d·HEALTH Barcelona is part of the Innovation Fellowships program of EIT Health, the main European consortium in health, which gives fellows opportunities for international mobility with other programs and the chance to validate their business model and needs in other European ecosystems. For example, the fellows from previous editions have done stays in Oxford, Galway, Stockholm and Rotterdam, among others. The fellows also become part of the extensive European EIT Alumni network after finishing the program.
Biocat is currently looking for candidates with degrees in design, engineering, the life sciences or business for the sixth class of d·HEALTH Barcelona, which will kick off in January 2019.
d·HEALTH Barcelona impacts more than 1,000 people every year, from hospital staff to investors and patients. Over these five years, the 50 fellows that have done the d·HEALTH program have identified more than 4,700 unmet clinical needs at four hospitals: Sant Joan de Déu, Hospital Clinic, Institut Guttmann and, since 2018, Vall d’Hebron. Of these needs, 65% could be transformed directly into business opportunities, 5% are tied to scientific discoveries and 30% are opportunities for improvement that could be implemented by the hospitals themselves.
At Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, for example, 30% of the opportunities for improvement detected by the d·HEALTH Barcelona teams have already been implemented. At Hospital Clinic Barcelona, some of the proposals have become strategic priorities. For example, in 2014-2015, the d·HEALTH teams that did their immersion at this center identified some important observations related to the patient experience. "The fellows' work was key in helping us realize that we could accompany our clinical excellence with a better experience for patients. Now, the goal of improving patient experience is one of the three strategic aims set out in the new Pla Estratègic Clínic 2020," highlights David Font, Hospital Clinic Strategy and Planning Directorate.
Over these first five years of the program, fellows have worked in 11 clinical areas: cardiology, endocrinology, gynecology and obstetrics, rehabilitation, neonatology, general surgery, gastroenterology and hepatology, nephrology and urology, ophthalmology, neurorehabilitation and pulmonology.
"One of Moebio's goals is to extend the impact of d·HEALTH Barcelona to the whole ecosystem, which is why we are working to incorporate new hospitals each year," highlights Biocat CEO Jordi Naval. "The other great challenge is to continue strengthening the program's bonds with companies in the sector."
An example of success in this area is that Chiesi Spain has become a partner in d·HEALTH Barcelona this year. One of the teams of fellows from the program did their clinical immersion in the Pulmonology department at Hospital Clinic Barcelona, which allowed Chiesi to get a first-hand look at real unmet needs of both patients and healthcare staff involved in this unit, as part of their commitment to innovation in respiratory health.
"This opportunity was very interesting for us because it gave us a first-hand look at all sorts of unmet needs in a unit that is key for us: pulmonology," explains Joan Torrejón, director of the Chiesi Retail Unit.