Sandoz SXSW hackathon names 3 winners, unable to pick just 1

Profit per room in the U.S. reached the highest levels recorded for the year this past October, a report from data analyst HotStats shows.
Sandoz took its hackathon contest to SXSW as the traditional music and tech fest builds digital health clout. (Getty Images/RoschetzkyIstockPhoto)

At South by Southwest this weekend, Novartis' Sandoz hackathon judges were so impressed by the finalists that they named three winners instead of the planned one. The winners of Sandoz’s second Healthcare Access Challenge (HACk), and first at the Texas confab, spent three days in an accelerator program honing their digital solution ideas for access to healthcare before presenting to a panel of experts on Sunday.

The winners—Regulora, a digital therapeutic for IBS; SocialGenomics, a smart social network for rare disease patients; and Mobile Clinic, a door-to-door maternal healthcare service in Uganda—will each receive €20,000 and ongoing support from Sandoz experts on request.

“All three were so unique that we really couldn’t compare them against each other. It would have been unfair to announce one as better than the other because we were inspired and surprised by the depth of all three ideas,” said Andre Heeg, M.D., global head of digital at Sandoz, the generics division of Novartis.

Free Daily Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to FiercePharma!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along daily. Our subscribers rely on FiercePharma as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on drugs and the companies that make them. Sign up today to get pharma news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

He said there is no formal ongoing commitment or agreement between Sandoz and the winners, but the pharma company would offer support if any of the winners want it. The global call for entries resulted in more than 400 ideas from 80 different countries. The three finalists, and ultimately the winners, were chosen in January after the contest began in the fall.

RELATED: Digital therapeutics from apps to smart inhalers, brought to you by pharma

Heeg, who joined Sandoz eight months ago, was also impressed by the interest and innovation around digital health at SXSW. It was his first visit to the festival, and he said he was surprised by the number of ideas around digital health. For instance, four of the 10 winners of the 11th annual SXSW Pitch contest were in health.

RELATED: Novartis puts AI on the job to help reps say the right things to the right doctors

“The number of ideas in digital health was surprising to me. This is not just a trend, this is reality now with a lot of people doing key work on solutions in digital health,” he said. “Digital health is clearly at the top of the agenda of South by Southwest.”

Suggested Articles

Industry watchers have been speculating about just how high Novartis would price gene therapy Zolgensma. And now, they have an answer.

The WHO’s role in part is to provide prescribing guidance without an eye on profits. What happens when that guidance is tainted by private money?

After 19 sales reps left Amgen to help Karyopharm launch a rival multiple myeloma drug, Amgen sued. Now Karyopharm wants the suit thrown out.