Mar 11, 2019
  • Sandoz commits to increasing support from one winner to three, following impressive pitches from the finalists
  • Winning ideas proposed innovative uses of artificial intelligence, mobile apps and digital therapeutics to address healthcare access challenges
  • Sandoz invited people worldwide to "reimagine access to healthcare" by identifying practical, scalable digital solutions to address unmet medical needs

Austin, Texas, March 10, 2019 - Sandoz, a Novartis division, today announced the winners of the 2019 Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (HACk).

Sandoz HACk invites entrepreneurs and innovators in the field of digital technology to submit ideas with the potential to complement - or even positively disrupt - established approaches to driving access to healthcare.

The three winners, chosen from over 400 ideas across 80 countries, who will now receive EUR 20,000 each in funding to bring their ideas to life as well as ongoing support from Sandoz experts, are:

  • US-based ReguloraTM, led by Tim Rudolphi, which offers a prescription-only digital therapeutic for patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), based on Gut Directed Hypnotherapy -- a method of treatment that has been increasingly used in recent years
  • Netherlands-based SocialGenomics, led by Susanne Baars, which is developing a smart social network with a matchmaker tool to connect patients across the world who suffer from rare and undiagnosed diseases
  • Ugandan-based Mobile Clinic, led by Andrew Dbembe, which seeks to use an app and a mobile van clinic to provide door-to-door maternal healthcare services in Uganda. The idea will enable patients to make emergency appointments via a toll-free number, which will be directly linked to the mobile van clinic

"Sandoz sees the future of healthcare as being driven by two closely related factors: the digital revolution and the need for strong collaboration between healthcare companies and external partners," said Carol Lynch, President Sandoz Inc, speaking at the 'Startup of the Year' event at the South by Southwest (SXSW) congress in Austin, Texas. "Today saw three teams pitch innovative ideas to tackle a diverse range of healthcare access issues. As judges, we felt passionate about all three ideas and the people behind them, and so we are excited to offer support and seed funding to all teams."

Andre Heeg, global Head of Digital at Sandoz, also speaking from Austin, added: "We believe Sandoz HACk is a key step towards realizing this vision, and we look forward greatly to working with all three winners to help bring their ideas to fruition. And there is no better place to celebrate the winner than SXSW: the global meeting point for innovative digital thinkers."

Since arriving in Austin, Texas the three finalist teams (see below for details) attended a four-day "accelerator" event in parallel to SXSW. Working with Sandoz and industry experts, they discussed and re-assessed their ideas, with a view to creating practical, scalable solutions that can have a significant impact on people's lives. Finalists also attended SXSW sessions and networked with other participants and speakers to further stimulate development of their ideas.

All three finalists pitched their idea in person to a panel of judges, consisting of Sandoz and industry experts. The judging panel was led by Carol Lynch, President of Sandoz US and Head of Sandoz North America, and included Steffen Kurzawa, Global Head of Communications, Sandoz, John Frémont, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Hypergiant; Rich Maloy, Director at Established and Venture Partner at SpringTime Ventures; Jennifer Skjellum, Director of Programs at The Company Lab; and John W. Dankanich, Chief Technologist at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Judges assessed finalists based on criteria including the anticipated impact of their idea and the effective use of digital technologies.

About the Sandoz HACk winners

  • ReguloraTM (Tim Rudolphi, US) - Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic and painful condition affecting approximately 10% of people worldwide. Recent clinical trials have shown that psychologically-focused treatments are an effective way to treat IBS, with over 50% of people enjoying significant relief from symptoms. ReguloraTM is in development as a prescription-only digital therapeutic based on Gut Directed Hypnotherapy. The mobile app connects patients with automated digital therapy sessions from the comfort of their own home, as well as offering daily practice routines and reports that track progress.   
  • Social Genomics (Susanne Baars, Netherlands) - Approximately one in 15 people worldwide are affected by rare diseases, with many untreated and unstudied. Social Genomics is building an AI-based smart social network, enabling people with rare and undiagnosed diseases to connect and share stories, providing access to global real-world patient data insights about treatment options and scientific research. By using advanced matchmaking algorithms based on genomic patient data, Social Genomics aims to link the right questions to the right people and to data sources that are available in the field of genomics.
  • The Mobile Clinic (Andrew Ddembe, Uganda) - In Uganda, access to antenatal and maternal healthcare is extremely challenging, resulting in over 25 women dying every day due to complications while giving birth in remote and rural areas. The Mobile Clinic plans to develop an app that can be used to make emergency appointments via a toll-free number and will be directly linked to a mobile van clinic offering door-to-door services in rural areas.

About Sandoz HACk
The Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge invites entrepreneurs and innovators in the field of digital technology to submit ideas with the potential to complement - or even positively disrupt - established approaches to driving access to healthcare.  As a global leader in generic and biosimilar medicines and a pioneer in the field of digital therapeutics, Sandoz is determined to play a leading role in driving access to global healthcare by focusing on areas of unmet medical need. Sandoz sees the future of medicine as driven by increasingly strong collaboration between healthcare companies and external partners, and the goal of Sandoz HACk is to help make this vision a reality - by identifying and supporting small, practical ideas with the potential to spark big change.

For more information on Sandoz HACk, see here:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using #SandozHACk.

About Sandoz
Sandoz, a Novartis division, is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars and a pioneer in the emerging field of prescription digital therapeutics. Our purpose is to pioneer access to healthcare by developing and commercializing novel, affordable approaches that address unmet medical need. Our broad portfolio of high-quality medicines, covering all major therapeutic areas and increasingly focused on value-adding differentiated medicines, accounted for 2018 sales of USD 9.9 billion. Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen, in Germany's Greater Munich area.

Sandoz is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @Sandoz global at

Novartis Media Relations
E-mail: [email protected]

Eric Althoff
Novartis Global Media Relations
+41 61 324 7999 (direct)
+41 79 593 4202 (mobile)
[email protected]
Chris Lewis
Sandoz Global Communications
+49 8924 476 1906 (direct)
+49 174 244 9501 (mobile)
[email protected]