At the end of April, 2019, Sopharma Trading announced the creation of “SOinventure” – a corporate acceleration program in the field of health-tech, organized in partnership with Bulgarian investment fund Eleven Ventures. We decided to ask Mr. Ivaylo Simov, Partner at Eleven Ventures, and Mr. Dimitar Dimitrov, CEO of Sopharma Trading, three questions about the development of the alliance between healthcare and new technology, and we added our experience-based opinion to their answers.
Q: How will healthcare benefit from new technology?
Ivaylo Simov: Software is eating the world and pharma and healthcare are next in line. As in all other industries, new technologies introduce benefits both for businesses and their clients, no matter if they are b2b or b2c. Technology will bring down costs and make services and products more easily and readily available to the right client at the right time.
Dimitar Dimitrov: I believe that innovation and technologies will completely redefine healthcare and have the potential to improve the quality of our lives tremendously. Still, this change depends on us! That is why we started SOinventure – as an innovation program to re-design healthcare and make the most of the huge potential innovation & technology possess.
Elena Todorova: New tech usually kills bureaucratic thinking. The healthcare sector is over-regulated and often associated with vague procedures and enormous amounts of paperwork. My expectation is that the technology will turn healthcare into a patient-friendly and tailor-made service.
Q: Where are the challenges for uniting new tech and healthcare?
Dimitar: Some challenges are visible now, others will come on the way. As we all know the most difficult thing is not to have new ideas, but to make people forget the old ones! Our goal – to create a new, unique patient experience throughout all stages of the patient journey – is truly ambitious, considering that the current healthcare system operates far differently than the technology sector does. And here comes the first challenge: how these two diametrically different-by-nature industries might cooperate.
Ivaylo: One of the biggest challenges that we are trying to resolve is: how do you manage to connect a small and nimble start-up to a large pharma corporation or healthcare provider? Accepting new ideas and models of work is tougher the older and more regulated an industry is.
Another thing to note is the difference between the workflow and processes in small start-up teams compared to large pharma companies. One has established processes and organizational structure supporting steady and secure growth, where the other works on high gears of speed and iterations, allowing for agility and adaptability.
Elena: Our challenge here is to put the alliance between quick innovation and the responsibility for human life on a sustainable foundation. And as legal acts do not have the necessary dynamics of development, the postulates of justice, ethics, and morality are back on the agenda. This is a test for jurists accustomed to relying on the letter of the law.
Q: What is the next hype trend in the industry – nanomedicines, AI, blockchain-based platforms, or something else?
Dimitar: I would say all of them! All these innovations, technologies, etc. I see them working in a holistic way as part of a new fantastic ecosystem. All we need to do is connect the dots from the perspective of patient needs. This is the primarily goal of SOinventure - to engage innovation & technologies and build a brand-new healthcare focused on the patient!
Ivaylo: The next big thing will be incremental improvements across the board and making sense of the big data out there, and then - connecting the dots indeed. As we always say, innovation happens at the crossroads of industries and science, and there’s no better field than healthy living for this to happen in.
Most technology trends will have their impact on the health industry in one way or another. The new treatments such as stem cells and personalized medicines will also need to go the long way of clinical trials before reaching patients. Yet, big pharma companies are also exploring how digital medicine and wearables, for example, can supplement or replace existing drug treatments today.
We believe that the future of health is built by a mix of established and emerging technologies which complement and support each other.
Elena: Perhaps artificial intelligence. The EU has already agreed on a definition of AI. The next big step could be to regulate the liability that AI could carry.
By Elena Todorova, Head of Healthcare and Life Sciences, Schoenherr Bulgaria
This Article was originally published in Issue 6.6 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.