January 13, 2019
3 min read

Novo Nordisk challenge accelerates diabetes technology advancement

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As the landscape of diabetes care continues to change, especially with advancements in technology, Novo Nordisk and MATTER named the winners of the 2018-2019 Novo Nordisk Challenge in December. The challenge, which was first announced in September, tasked developers with creating platforms that could be combined with Novo Nordisk’s pen injectors to improve diabetes care.

“We can’t necessarily do it all alone in-house,” Amy West, the U.S. senior director of patient-centric marketing for Novo Nordisk, told Endocrine Today. “It’s important for us to go out to that entrepreneur startup community and build those networks to see what’s happening, so if there’s opportunity for us to partner together and leverage each other’s capabilities and expertise we can create some synergies there for people who are looking to better manage their diabetes.”

Adelie Health, HumanCapitalWorks, Medopad, Simple C and Xbird were selected as the winners from a pool of 12 semifinalists that presented their proposals to a panel of judges from Novo Nordisk in a presentation at Harvard Medical School in December. Proposals were evaluated based on how patient-centric and innovative they were, as well as their ease of use and scalability. Each winning company received $25,000 and an invitation to take part in an accelerated development program, which includes concentrated access to and support from mentors at Novo Nordisk and MATTER.

Simple C’s platform was developed in conjunction with JEMS Telehealth and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Using a modified version of their Companion application, which was originally developed for dementia treatment and is currently available on Apple and Android devices, Simple C and JEMS Telehealth created a platform that provides “behavioral nudges” to users, reminding them to take medications, hydrate or perform other tasks associated with daily care. The platform will be further modified for the diabetes care market, which could include integration with Novo Nordisk’s pen injectors.

“Our solution is founded on helping seniors maintain a healthy daily routine, and to stimulate positive mood and memories without the use of additional medications,” Kevin Lasser, CEO of JEMS Telehealth, told Endocrine Today. “Having been ‘validated’ by Novo Nordisk for our small company (approximately 30 people) is immeasurable.”

Adelie Health’s proposal was even more specific to a potential incorporation with pen injectors, but not just from Novo Nordisk. The U.K.-based company is developing a replacement pen cap that can interact with smart devices via Bluetooth to provide reminders, alarms and system usage.

Smart devices were an important part of xBird’s proposal, as the company will use machine learning to “create a journey map of a person’s day,” with special attention paid to times of both hypo- and hyperglycemia.

Based in London, Medopad is aiming to use its experience in health care technology to create a remote monitoring application to enhance the relationship between physicians and patients, improve glycemic control and detect potential issues before they develop. The modular application can be configured for type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and associated co-morbidities.

“Diabetes patients are currently offered a variety of digital solutions and companion applications to enable them to better manage their disease. The downside to all these options is that the patient inevitably becomes inundated by the number of digital tools they use to self-manage,” James Richards of Life Sciences Partnerships at Medopad, told Endocrine Today. “Using our platform play technology we can integrate third-party digital health innovations, devices and sensors to develop a harmonized solution for diabetes self- management. This holistic approach would allow us to develop a less-intrusive digital tool that acts as the one application on the patient’s phone/tablet for diabetes management.”

Lastly, HumanCapitalWorks’ Emmett is a program specifically targeting type 1 diabetes and will use the internet of things (IoT) along with continuous data streaming to aid in decision-making and disease management. – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: Lasser reports he is CEO of JEMS Telehealth. Richards reports he is an employee of Life Sciences Partnerships at Medopad. West reports she is the U.S. senior director of patient centric marketing for Novo Nordisk.