LISAvienna: The first Roche Open Innovation Day in Vienna in retrospect

In September, Roche organized its inaugural Roche Open Innovation Day in collaboration with LISAvienna. The idea was to learn more about young innovators from Austria in an informal exchange and to offer insights from a global life science player’s perspective. (Digital) health products and services empowering patients and health care providers were center stage.

Roche’s offer to share knowledge was highly appreciated by Austria’s life sciences community. 40 applications were submitted and five selected for informal 1:1 meetings. Philipp Wittmann, Healthcare System Partner at Roche Austria, was a key driver to make this happen. He concludes: “Austria's innovation landscape truly holds big promises for fruitful collaborations. At Roche, we are excited about the great interest in the opportunity to get in touch with us. Skillfully exploiting the potential offered by new digital solutions and life science research is key to ensuring that as many people as possible can continue to benefit from Austria's first-class healthcare system.”

Christine Stadler-Häbich, Director Business Development Roche Diagnostics Austria, adds: “In times of major demographic changes and great technological upheavals, this is an enormous challenge. Only together we can meet this challenge and ensure that the necessary and technologically feasible products and services are developed and offered in time. The Open Innovation Day was just a right piece of the puzzle in this complex picture. And we will have to do much more in the future to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatments, monitoring and management of health at the cutting edge. Roche is ready to take its share of responsibility in our main fields of interest including oncology, cardiology, neurology, immunology and rare diseases. Digital solutions have started revolutionizing healthcare globally and Austria’s Electronic Health Records ELGA serve as best practice example regularly. However, reimbursement issues need to be solved so that patients can start tapping the full potential of digital health applications.”

Philipp Hainzl and Johannes Sarx, Managing Directors at LISAvienna, on this initiative: “We are pleased that Roche in Austria has approached us with the aim to grow its network with the next generation of innovators in the country and suggested to share knowledge and to provide feedback from a global player’s perspective. The pipeline of business ideas in the life sciences is flourishing. New approaches are not only being developed based on the latest scientific knowledge in academia. There are also a lot of amendments in the business plans of start-ups and SMEs as new opportunities are opening up at the technological level in the course of R&D while other ideas turn out to be dead ends. At the same time, knowledge gains linked to what can be learned by dealing more intensively with the market and users must come into play and deeply influence the design of products and services to meet the needs. Global players such as Roche have a deep understanding of market needs and users. It is wonderful that there is a willingness to share this with those who still have much to learn here.”

How young innovators experienced Roche’s mentoring

Konstantin Pollanz, Co-founder and CEO of HerzensApp, notes: “HerzensApp is a digital platform for both dedicated nurses and families seeking caregivers for in-home assistance. Our platform empowers nurses with a comprehensive suite of tools. From nursing documentation and billing to efficient client management and flexible scheduling, we've curated a digital experience that aligns with the demands of modern healthcare. We discussed our solution with Roche’s experts to receive feedback and work out possible ways of collaboration. As of now our expertise lies in the home care setting, but we are excited to explore the stationary sector in the future as well. We value Roche‘s expertise in the industry and are very keen to stay closely in touch with the people working at Roche.”

Looking back at the informal meeting, Martin Wilkovitsch and Sebastian Hecko, Co-founders of Velaex Technologies, summarizes: “We are developing a new type of cancer treatment based on an implantable therapeutic system capable of precise, on-demand delivery of drugs directly to the tumor site. Our medical device relies on an iontronic switch, enabling spatiotemporal ON/OFF control of the drug concentration inside the human body. We deliver and activate drugs exclusively at the tumor site, only where and when they are needed. Focusing on localized drug delivery, we use only a fraction of the drug doses typically administered systemically, making systemic drug administration redundant. Meeting Roche’s experts and discussing our vision to shrink hard-to-treat solid tumors in size, finally allowing for the surgically resection of previously inoperable tumors, was simply fantastic. In our early stage, we were able to gain valuable insights, particularly about medical device regulations which proved very helpful to us. The feedback and experience shared by Roche’s experts helped us refine the potential of our product and understand necessary steps moving forward. It was a fruitful informal discussion, and we are grateful to have been part of the innovation day.” 

Dejan Steinberg, Head of Business Development at the research center VASCage, reflects on the feedback provided by Roche: "VASCage as a research center is unique in its know-how to develop innovative products, therapies and technologies and to implement them in routine clinical care. With our three business areas - clinical studies, data science and biobank - we can offer our customers and partners a wide range of services in the field of stroke and vascular aging. VASCage had a fantastic opportunity to showcase their work and ideas for potential collaboration with Roche at the first Roche Open Innovation Day. Along with four other startups, we were able to network and connect with the right stakeholders. Such platforms for exchanging ideas and thoughts are invaluable, and VASCage welcomes these initiatives. The atmosphere was electric, making for a great event overall."

Lukas Seper, Co-Founder & Strategic Partnerships at XUND, appreciated the recent meeting with Roche in Vienna and emphasizes the critical role of platforms like the Open Healthcare Alliance (OHA) in fostering innovation in healthcare. "By taking part in OHA, we can help shape the future of health and benefit from a network of experts and innovators."
He also highlights the importance of 'coopetition' in healthcare, where both new innovators and established companies such as Roche collaborate and compete to drive progress and better patient outcomes. As a leading player, Roche's involvement not only brings depth and expertise to the field, but also sets a precedent for how established companies can work effectively with emerging innovators. It is this type of partnership that is key to driving forward the innovations that will shape the future of health care.

Jan Török, Director for Austria, Germany and Switzerland at Supercharge, highlights: “Supercharge serves startups, scaleups and large corporations as an end-to-end digital innovation partner. Our 220+ experts in Amsterdam, Helsinki, London, New York, Vienna, and Budapest collaboratively work with our clients to develop innovative digital solutions. Our team operates across multiple industries in order for our solutions to have the maximum impact. To improve healthcare, we have developed a variety of tools including a brand new digitally fueled service to perform reliable blood tests from the comfort of people's homes. This provides easier access while simultaneously empowering patients to take control of their health by receiving relevant insights via a digital platform at their fingertips. We extend our gratitude to Roche for accommodating our request to conduct a virtual meeting instead of an in-person one with our global team. Additionally, we appreciate the attendance of numerous experts from your organisation at our presentation. We are grateful for the valuable feedback received, especially your insights on the main focus areas. Furthermore, we are delighted to hear that Veronika Mikl will assist us in connecting with the right members of Roche HQ Digital Team in Basel."

About Roche in Austria

Roche is one of the leading suppliers of pharmaceuticals, in-vitro diagnostics products and diabetes management systems and services in Austria and has around 400 employees and three entities in Vienna (Pharma, Diagnostics and Diabetes Care). For more than 125 years, Roche has been developing innovative therapies and diagnostics for a wide range of chronic and life-threatening diseases that help transform healthcare.

Improving people's lives through diagnostic, therapeutic & digital solutions - that's what Roche's 100,000 employees around the world are all about. Many of the innovations developed decades ago still bring great benefits to millions of patients today. The World Health Organization (WHO) list of essential medicines includes 32 Roche products – a top figure.

The company has partnerships with numerous forward-thinking organizations that share one thing in common: a belief that cutting-edge science and technology will improve human health and well-being. Together we are actively shaping the step into a digital future and support the digital transformation of the healthcare system for the benefit of patients in Austria.

Additional information is available online at


Philipp Wittmann
Healthcare System Partner
Roche Austria GmbH
1211 Vienna, Austria

Elvira Kainersdorfer
Cluster Manager
Walcherstrasse 11A
1020 Vienna, Austria

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