#3: Network is your net worth - entering the German market for a Healthcare startup | Marco R. Majer, Head of Ecosystems at 5-HT Digital Hub

Published on January 7, 2022

Today’s guest, Marco R. Majer, works directly with startups and helps them approach the chemical and health industry on the German market. We discussed the activities of the 5-HT ecosystem for startups and corporates, the role of the German government for hubs, and how a startup can seize the possibilities of working with big companies. Marco speaks on how the hubs measure the activity performance, which startups and companies can enter the hub, which projects they’ve already worked with, and also a key rule for startups entering the German healthcare market. Enjoy the listening!

Timeline:

01:38 5-HT digital hub for startups: how it works, and measures performance

09:16 the role of the government in the hubs’ activity

10:54 the actions 5-HT does to help startups and corporates

19:17 working with startups from abroad 

21:36 the specifics of the German market

25:21 what startups need to keep in mind targeting healthcare organizations

28:43 the requirements for healthcare providers, hospitals, and clinics

34:22 personalized medicine and sustainability in pharma

35:30 future startup program X-Linker 2022

39:31 Rapid Fire Round (3 questions)

 

Links:

Bootcamp for startups: https://www.5-ht.com/en/programs/5-ht-x-linker/5-ht-x-linker-2022

Marco R. Majer in Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marco-r-majer/

 

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Ivan Dunskiy: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the HealthTech Beat podcast. The mission of our podcast is to show the real-life challenges of implementing technology in healthcare. The podcast is sponsored by Demigos, a company that develops IT solutions for healthcare, startups, and companies. And for more information, you can check on demigos.com.

My name is Ivan Dunskiy, your today's host as always. And I'm joined by our special guest, Marco Majer, the head of ecosystems at 5-HT. Marco helps chemical and health corporations to work with innovative startups and help startups to approach the chemical and health industry. After studying in Munich, Singapore, and Beijing, he's currently in his doctoral studies in London, focusing on startup corporate collaboration. Marco, thank you for joining. How are you today? 

Marco Majer: Yeah, thanks for having me, a pleasure to be here. I've been looking very much forward to having a fruitful discussion, and I'm safe and sound and healthy, which is probably the most important thing today. 

[01:38] 5-HT digital hub for startups: how it works, and measures performance

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Could you please give a brief introduction of who you are beyond what I already mentioned and what you do at 5-HT?

Marco Majer: Sure, pleasure. So I'm heading the equal systems team at 5-HT. 5-HT is a German digital hub for chemistry and health. So we deal along the whole value chain from chemistry to pharma pharmaceutical and towards health and health companies. And we are a team of 15 people at the moment. And we do support both sides. So we all often speak about startup corporate collaboration, and often there's a lag between both startups and corporations, which might lead to lots of innovation, potential when these two players cannot work together and this is what we often see. And therefore we support both sides.

We help corporations. First of all, setting up processes to identify startups, processes to leverage external innovation, such as startups solutions. And on the other hand, we help startups in, for example, drafting their pitch deck, Bento defining their value proposition towards a health care company, towards a pharmaceutical company.

And so our mission is to increase the possibility of a match. And because at the end of the day, we try to help both parties to find each other and then work on a common project. And here we also see ourselves more as a preparation, as matchmaking, and the platform also as a guide to help both parties fruitfully and successfully work together.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. I think that's a very important task and that you connect these two worlds because as we also see that startups may have good ideas, but they do not necessarily understand how to implement those ideas in large corporations. Whereas there are many layers of management and so on. That's a really hard task for them to understand all the nuances and details of that world. Yeah. Could you please tell us, I'm just curious, how is the performance of your organization measured? 

Marco Majer: Yeah. So the actual KPI we follow it's the number of matches. So how many real conversations did we manage to enable how many I would say follow-up activities such as projects are coming out of this. So our goal, we are the more altruistic hub, so, as I mentioned it's a digital hub for chemistry and health, our mandate is by the federal ministry for economic affairs and energy.

So four years ago, the Trump government decided, or first of all, they assessed the status quo of the term digital ecosystem.

And when they compare to Germany four or five years ago, and with other innovation hotspots, and especially when it comes to digital, it was very obvious that Germany is not the most mature country and the economy has many changes to digital, to digital services, to digital infrastructure as an example.

And therefore the German government decided to start another initiative to support both worlds. And we do see Berlin as one of the major startups, startup hubs, or startup cities in Europe. But as Germany is very decentralized, there are many more cities, larger cities like Munich or Hamburg evolved in the past, but also different clusters, regions.

So we are based in 30 - 45 minutes, south of Frankfurt international airport. It's called the Ryy-Necker region, both rebels, and they come together here in Mannheim, Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen, and other three major cities of this region. And therefore the German government decided: Okay, how can we bring together the old economy, the established corporates, and the new economy, digital startups? And therefore, they started a digital hub initiative where 12 different digital hubs were initiated in Frankfurt as one hub for fintech because Frankfurt is the leading financial center. In Hamburg, there's Germany’s largest hub. So they set a hub for supply chain and logistics. In our area, there is a health sector.

And also, for example, PSS headquarters to the largest chemical company is based out of Ludwigshafen. And yeah, this is the story behind it. So the government said we need to do something, but we not only put money into, investors as typical VC or government VC, I'd rather bring, to support the old established corporates and the old economy in setting up these hubs.

So this is a story behind, we brought altruistically. So we're not profit-oriented, profit-driven. Our goal is really how we can support both sides. Because if you have a traditional established German corporate, and they might like a new innovation or new ideas. And we have startups from Germany but also started from abroad.

And if you bring them together, then they can build up and co-develop a solution that helps both parties. And so this is the goal of our organization.

Ivan Dunskiy: Sorry to interrupt, but I'm just curious. Does the government measure the other, like some measurable KPIs that you report to the government that, I understand that there is like, you are doing that in a more altruistic way, but are there something to measure like I operate well or not?

Marco Majer: Yeah. So we do have some quantitative indicators you can measure. For example, the government has a publicly open database where you can see different startups to support each hub. As one example you see. Okay, plenty startups for just one specific hub, they see: Oh, this hub is actually working quite well because there are so many startups, which is not for this hub, but I would say the real indicators we see and also the government is interested in is, is more qualitative wise. Obviously, you can track things like what is the total funding, the total amount of funding to startups in this ecosystem.

But as we don't invest in startups, we have a huge ecosystem of startups and other hubs, they operate differently. So therefore it's sometimes hard to compare the different hubs because the value proposition and the setup differ from hub to hub. But then I would say the government's looking for qualitative reviews.

Other reproject, not only some nice slides but is their startup able working together with corporate B and they did positive impact for the city of X Y Z. So this is these other stories I would say. And the initiative is driven by success stories. And this is what the government sees. And over the past three years, and all different hubs are growing.

It took some time, three to say, what is our added value? And through to the startup ecosystem, through establish corporates. And therefore I would describe it as qualitative success stories. This is the caveat that the government is looking for. 

[09:16] The role of the government in the hubs’ activity

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. That's really cool that the government supports startups and corporates from other sides too, like digitalize and being in trends of innovation. 

Marco Majer: Maybe I quickly add. So, it's an initiative by the government, but each hub works separately.

So therefore each hub is also kind of self-responsible for its own development. So it's not that the government puts all the money on the table and then we can work and the do cool fund, some activities in our particular case. Show him the government, but it's also two federal states, Baden-Württemberg und Rhineland-Palatinate, but we do have corporate membership fees.

And if we are very interested or interested in corporates, they can join us. And therefore it's not only the government will like kind of place money and put money on the table. But we are in a kind of own responsibility to develop ourselves and to create. And this is very important that we're not fully public, but kind of CSS is a private-public organization, not profit-oriented, but if we onboard, for example, more corporate members, we can do more.

We can hire more people. We can enable much more startup corporate collaboration. And this is the story, it's not fully a government initiative but strong interactions and strong relations to the industry. And this is very important. 

[10:54] the actions 5-HT does to help startups and corporates

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. It adds flexibility and independence in some way. And like as skin in the game too. Yeah. Got it. Cool. And you mentioned that you focus more on the quality and qualitative measures of your work. Could you please tell a few or maybe one example of some case study how you helped companies and startups? 

Marco Majer: Yeah. Very likely to do so.

So, with one pharmaceutical corporate, that's all pharma players international, globally operating. And they came to us and they said: so we are a pharma company, so I can't share the name, but pharma company. And they said: Okay, we have a medication for very specific, I would say, patient market or very specific market.

And then they said: Okay, look, we do see more and more competitors coming into this market. And for us, it's very important to, yeah, build up a strong relationship with our patients, to the users of this medication. And they said, besides the physical drug or the physical medication, we want to bond out in this particular case customers and to better interact with them.

So therefore they said 5-HT, could you help us in identifying? And then co-develop it digital app on it for our specific medication? So what we did then is, first of all, we talked to them to better understand what do you really want.

Then we screened the global stock market to identify different types of digital add-ons so ranging from, I would say, a chatbot where you can have it like a diary function to the circuit this morning.

I wake up, I feel good. At a new one, I'm quite tired. Maybe now it could be time for the medication, sort of chatbot function, diary function. It could be also a meditation app to do some exercise. Not only writing down how's your current health status, but also some increase of physical ability. It could be AR, VR, XR tools to take your medication. And then as an ad on you have some physical games, so they have different things we could share with them as a potential add-on. Then we assessed those different solutions, always by different startup use cases to say, okay, this is a startup A.

They offer this. Startup B, they offer this, and based on a very broad range of different digital health solutions by startups, we then created a shortlist, and said: Okay, a long list we assessed, we have a shortlist, and then we will invite these startups for bilateral get to know calls. Then our job was instead of just saying: Okay, we arranged a meeting, and then you both taught the impact.

 Our mission was to prepare the startup to say: Okay, you will meet this company, this is their current challenge, and this is the goal that the objective they follow. So this gives us the opportunity to kind of prepare the startup for the specific meeting, we scanned our Pitch deck and we help them in the value proposition.

We did some, I would say, knowledge sharing. We helped them in the ideation process. Because it's not possible to find a startup and you buy the solution off the shelf. So, and there's more interest, I don't know, to change the course of the startup solution. They needed to modify the style.

Ivan Dunskiy: To adjust it. 

Marco Majer: To adjust it and to the demands. And therefore we help them in the preparation. Then we had a meeting with seven, eight startups. Then there was a presentation. Then you also understand the team behind it, you better understand the solution and we acted for the startup as a colleague, as a supporter, but also for the corporate till we tell them: Okay.

And these other startups, and after you've started getting feedback loop where we said: Okay, based on our experience, we can also recommend to further dig into or dive into a specific area of the startup was offering here on the other hub. It might be helpful to have another feedback loop. So for both parties, we act as a supporter, open supporters.

And then to corporate, in the end, we had from the shortlist, and then we defined a funnel where we set up a workshop between both parties and really aligned on how a potential solution could look like. And now, in the end, it's currently in the development phase, male to farmer player, work with the digital health startup and co-developing the solution and bringing modifying to the needs of the corporate. And I assume they will launch. 

So we expect the launch of the product in 2022 properly in Q2, Q3. And so this is really from the beginning when a corporate came to us and said: we have the problem, we have to challenge, right, so could you help us? And from, first of all, helping them in what's in the market, what's possible and then break it down to really match the demands of the corporate. And now they are happier. The startup is happier. Although the other startups at least learn something. 

Ivan Dunskiy: What market needs they see, what solutions are desired, yeah. 

Marco Majer: And the very positive thing was, although in the end pharma corporate needed to tell some of the startups of his story: here we don't have a match because of ABC. But this feedback helps the startup help us better understand the market. Plus we had the case because the former player doesn't only produce this specific medication. They have more medication or more in business areas. So therefore we saw the very interesting fact because the farmer corporate was so I wouldn't say in love with the startup, but they were very happy with meeting so many different startups and devastate this startup doesn't fit with the current case.

But I have some colleagues in another department, it might be helpful for them. So, therefore, all of the startups who received a kind of well, not accepting it, might receive more and more opportunities in different business units. And therefore, in the end, this was a very positive outcome because we saw helping the corporate to break down what they need was very helpful and bringing them in contact with the startups. So this was our qualitative outcome. 

Ivan Dunskiy: You know what? I think that's a very big help to startups because startups may not have such big sales resources and money on marketing to see all these opportunities that are on the market.

And that's not easy to find like what company what needs has, and like who to approach and so on. So with that, you give that like laser focus for corporates and for startups that like both interests are met. So, yeah, that's, I think for startups, that's a very huge help. 

Marco Majer: And another example of how to get traction, because this is when we always assess the needs of the corporate side.

And then we go into the startup ecosystem. Sometimes on events, or now most startups, this 5-HT, and kind of entry gate into the German chemical pharma and healthcare market. They approach us actively and tandems, to be honest, we can give them some feedback, but we don't see potential matches with our network, but then with one success story was to simply, so we help others also in getting visibility and we conduct interviews with most of the startups you onboard well ecosystem, and just recently read a startup story.

We share the startups or our LinkedIn channel. And because I didn't really have someone in my network, we can say, I brought this startup together with corporate A, B, or C, but then a corporate approached us and said: Hey, I've read the startup story. And it was super interesting. Can you make a connection? And this is what we see, what we try to help.

If we have very specific demands, we want to help. If you don't have very specific demands, we try to help with visibility, with some coaching, with feedback for startups. And our mission is, and it’s a very altruistic mission, to help every startup, at least once. And for most of the startups, we can help more than once, but this is always our goal at then people can say: Okay. I didn't receive an investment by 5-HT, but I received a good contact. I didn't receive a contact but they helped me to bring me to a specific event where I met plenty of people that didn't help me with the corporate conduct, but they helped me get investors’ contact. 

[19:17] working with startups from abroad

Ivan Dunskiy: At least something to move forward to, to proceed, yeah. And do you work only with German healthcare startups? 

 Marco Majer: No. So this is very important. We obviously have plenty of German ecosystems, but it's also important for us to help and onboard startup from abroad. And, uh, there are several reasons for it. First of all, if you have very specific demands, there might not be a startup in Germany, but maybe in our neighboring countries. And also astronomy is a large market and especially healthcare markets, they differ from each other. 

So when a startup, for example, a French startup would like to go to Germany, they can do typical sales and approach customers directly, B2C or B2B, they differ in this need, but they can also use organizations like us to say: okay, these are not a consulting company that doesn’t charge me money. All our services are free of charge for startups. But maybe they can help me with some visibility, with some insights on the market, with first contacts. 

We're not a sales platform so the startup expects us to manage, to bring them 25 meetings with potential customers. This is not the case. If we see the possibility of a match, we will match, but there's no guarantee obviously. And this is what we see to also help foreign startups because we've seen the healthcare market has COVID. It's not a border that we say COVID only will happen in Germany. And then there's a border to France, there is no COVID, no. And therefore I think a global collaboration on topics like digital health, we have similarities in our chemical and we're all for clarity and sustainability. 

It's not a German-only topic where we would like to, yeah, encourage cross-country collaboration and therefore be very open to startups and they can move to Germany, for example, open a subsidiary. That's not a must, especially, COVID taught us to have first meetings, first engagements, virtually. And, yeah, this is that. Therefore we are very international. We have roughly 300 startups now in the ecosystem, 150 from Germany and 150 from outside of Germany so startups from abroad.

[21:36] the specifics of the German market

 Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. And, you already mentioned that there are some specifics of entering the German market. Could you please elaborate more and talk about these specifics, the German market?

Marco Majer: I think what is definitely important is our health insurance markets. So in Germany, we have statutory health insurance with private health insurance companies and first of all, to see, okay, there is health insurance that is a statutory health insurance by the government implemented and every German has health insurance.

This is very important because this might differ for example, from the US market where we see more and more startups are going towards an aim or lifestyle or wellbeing direction. This is normally not the case in Germany, lifestyle, wellbeing. Normally you focus on approaching the health insurance company. In Germany, we have a digital health application that does a fast trick and can use, and you say, okay, e-recipe. So a digital health solution, you can go to the doctor and then they can say, okay, instead of going to a physical, doctor and do Some mental health coachings you can do it online because there are some startups, in this case, to start-up self a peer offers online coaching sessions for, for mental health and for the diseases.

So this is a possibility in Germany and you need to know it. Otherwise, when you, for example, approach the health insurance company, and you don't know DiGA, these digital health applications, then you're not prepared. So preparing is no matter what markets you enter, preparation is key and therefore you need to, first of all, see other health players in Germany or the related players.

You have obviously the patient itself, but in not many cases, the patient itself is the pale for, it could be that he or she is the use of the solution, but it could be that the health insurance companies are paying for it and it's conducting the reimbursement. So this is very important.

And as a startup, you then need to differentiate who is using my solution, who is paying for the solution. It could also be that the solution itself is reimbursed by the health insurance company, but the data I generate might be important for pharma companies. So therefore this is my general advice - try to speak to as so many people as possible before entering the market in Germany, because I might have a different perspective and angle when it comes to the healthcare market. Other pharma companies might be different, health insurance companies can be different. And therefore, this is very important first of all who is active in Germany, who is important.

It's not lifestyle markets or the wellbeing market. You have health insurance companies. There are probably the most critical parties to address. You have to be pharma players, you have patients, you have doctors, you have hospitals. And this is very important to, first of all, understand something like this.

And we see more and more of these initiatives are also expanded outside of Germany like these digital health applications. Now there are some talks that if you might have a more European wide initiative like this. 

[25:21] What startups need to keep in mind targeting healthcare organizations

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. And I think that the structure of the market may differ from other countries, but also there are some technical things that startup needs to consider. For example, language to add if they have English only, they need to add German as well as they need if they are HIPAA-compliant now they need to be GDPR compliant entering the market. So there are some things that are needed to change as well in this perspective. And working with corporates, you obviously understand what each category of healthcare organization needs. Could you please tell more about what startups need to keep in mind when they target different types or categories of healthcare organizations? 

Marco Majer: Yeah. So, first of all, it's important to directly share the expectation of a startup because we say, direct customer feedback is super valuable, but don't burn yourself.

Don't oversell yourself. And typically you can approach pharma companies a bit earlier. So I've just had a conversation with a pharma corporate this morning. And they said we're very much into a very early stage of a startup because then we can focus more on core development. Then we kind of guided the startup and he modified a solution.

Similar to the use case I mentioned, or is a different pharma company I talked to this morning. But in pharma, we see, they are more open to also working with startups in a more early phase. This is also quite different than one corporate one former corporate say: in this unit, we were more mature, in this department we work with more early-stage startups.

This is very important. Health insurance companies are more willing to really see that they don't have the time, don't have money to co-develop a solution with a startup. It could be then modified, but just a bit. So if you target a health insurance company, it should be very clear. Also, the value proposition should be very clear.

What you can do is: Okay. We offer this, we offer a dignitary appointed platform, specific for mental health. And you can't use the same pitch deck approaching pharma and using the same pitch deck approaching health insurance companies. This is barely possible. And this is important to keep in mind.

 What's the maturity of your solution. And therefore, my advice is to talk to some of those players but tell them: Okay, we are currently in the kind of customer feedback evaluation stage. So I don't want to sell my solution directly to you if you want to buy it afterward. Sure. You can. But for me, it's important to understand your needs.

 Are the data important for you? What can you do with the data? I will generate and ask him a bit. And then, before kind of approaching them, selling them the worst case this is what we experienced already is that then the farmer corporate is not happy with you. They have an internal startup database, they'll say not ready, or the team is not a barrier.

They don't understand what we actually do in pharma. And then you burn. If you then approach another department of the same corporate and they quickly kind of internally check your startup and they say: Oh, not ready. Okay, before we burn our fingers again. So this is very important. If you approach a health player in Germany, make sure what do you want to get out of our meeting?

And you mentioned a very important language and although in Germany, I would say, there's a high standard of English speaking people. But still, it's very important that at least you have someone in your team who can speak german. This is also what we see in that style from abroad. They hired german native speakers to approach because this is very important.

It's a soft factor. But, I would say, don't underestimate it as if you include the German-speaking part of Switzerland and Austria. It's almost a hundred million people market. And the language is often very critical.

[28:43] The requirements for healthcare providers, hospitals, and clinics

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, of course. And what about healthcare providers? What specifics do they have? I mean hospitals, clinics. 

Marco Majer: So for hospitals, for example, what we see are those university hospitals if they focus on research as well. So with one use case, one example here in Mannheim, we have the university hospital Manheim Hydaburg, it's under the umbrella of the university hospital of Heidelberg.

And they just recently opened their second startup campus for MedTech startups. So they want to really build a strong relationship between startups, entrepreneurs in the med-tech space, and the university hospital in research. So this is very closely linked. 

And if there's, I would say, a traditional hospital, not a university hospital, not focusing on research as well, and they often don't have time and infrastructure for you. So if you want to address hospitals, make sure if it's a hospital that already installed some processes to work with us. Maybe they have a campus, a startup campus. Maybe they have a kind of spin-off program or research program for startups and other hospitals, if they don't have it, it's super tricky because it could be the only person who is responsible for IT but it never talked to a startup before, so there it's hard to approach them. And then if you go to dentists, for example, in Germany, you have not big clinics or hospitals, but for example, dentists also have very different tools to approach them. 

And therefore you need to make sure: Okay, is there any organization, type of organization, and do they have any processes already installed? And this is super helpful having support organizations like the one in Manheim, it's called CUBEX 41. Very close distance to the university hospital. These are the ones. And if they are, for example, a startup pitch night, then leading doctors will listen to their pitches and they say afterward: Hey, you, startup founders. Interesting solution. Can we meet for coffee tomorrow? And this is very important, especially when it comes to networking. And hospitals are tricky because, especially now in COVID, normally they don't have time. Funding is often important for pharma. If pharma corporate lights your solution, funding shouldn't be a big problem for hospitals.

It's more problems. So therefore these research-related startup campuses aren't working. 

Ivan Dunskiy: So these university hospitals, they can serve as an entry point for startups to this provider's world. 

Marco Majer: Yes. And because if you approach a leading doctor in a specific department is a good solution, let's have a coffee tomorrow.

He's obviously well-connected to other hospitals without having such processes. But this is very important in the end, it's people's business, startup innovation it's people's business. If you identify and promote us, if you find people who really support your solution, this is very important. 

Ivan Dunskiy: And I'm also curious, you mentioned that these pharma companies can co-develop the solution with the startups. Couldn't that be an obstacle for a startup that they like to tie that solution to the needs of this specific company? And then this specific company can influence the further development and further growth of that startup. Like, could you please elaborate more on how that could be done efficiently? Or maybe that is not the case. 

Marco Majer: Yeah, it could be the case.

So very, very good question. And I would say it's an unsolved issue. So obviously if you're targeting a big pharma, and big pharma is saying: I like your solution but we need to modify it, to really adjust it, to our demands, for our needs. And it's good for a startup because you have a good pipeline. It might be that the big company really will pay for your solution.

It could be in the end, maybe an exit opportunity for you. On the other hand, it might limit yourself because if you go through another big pharma and then they say: Oh, no, you need to remodify your solution again. So this is really, in the end, what's your approach. Maybe if you, as a startup, are super attractive to 10 pharmaceutical corporates, you don't have to modify and adjust your solution too much and it could help. It could bring revenue. It could be a possible exit opportunity, but there's no recipe. And you say, okay, this is how you should act. I would say it, insufficient answer. It depends on the case.

It depends on the case. Yeah. What would we see in the biotech space? They are typical exit opportunities in the digital health space. It really depends. It could also be that if you have your infrastructure and then for one disease to partner with big pharma, one for the other use case you partner with big pharma.

And be, and then it's use case dependent, but in the end, as a startup, it's important in the end, you need to make money. You need to make money and you need to increase the runway. And as much more money you can make, as long as your runway is, and this should be your goal. Don't undersell yourself, be self-confident and also test it out, test your borders when you speak to not only accept the first offer you receive from big pharma, talk to two or three, to also differentiate and compare them. But in the end, this is rebuilt, sometimes it's a gut feeling and by the founders, there's no magic recipe to solve it.

[34:22] Personalized medicine and sustainability in pharma

Ivan Dunskiy: Yes, of course. And now a more personal question. What are the problems that you are focusing on now, or what are tasks that are currently your primary focus? 

Marco Majer: Yeah. So, what we see on the topic of sustainability, did influence, especially chemically corporates, but more and more pharmaceutical cooperates.

And the topic is in every industry now. And this is something that we will further stress and further focus on, in the future. For example, if you have expired drugs or near to date drugs, which expire soon, or can you do with them? How can we also use the topic of sustainability and leverage the topic of sustainability in the pharma space?

This is something which is not very much highlighted at the moment and everything which is going to personalization. If it's personalized therapy, personalized medicine, those are the things that will increase or will receive increased attention in the future. And this is also what we see when we talk to pharma, individual therapy, individual medicine is one important thing and that the second big pillar sustainability and also in pharma.

[35:30] future startup program X-Linker 2022

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. Yeah. Could you please share what are current projects you're working on now? 

Marco Majer: Yeah. So maybe the one project to highlight in which we can publicly share is our next startup program. It's called an X-Linker program. These are typically our main events for startups because it's a one-week boot camp.

On the final day, you will receive contact through various players in our next program. We focused on a lab of the future. So if you are a startup offering a solution for the lab of the future, it could be lab IT security, autonomy workflows, and lab experimentation. And we select 12 startups and they have to chance to meet companies like BSF, Bayer, Boehringer, Henkel, and further corporates.

We will invite investors and prepare them for it. So what we normally do throughout the whole year, we do it just in a one-week boot conform it to help startups individually in a better position themselves, and then, and meet innovation teams of these big corporates. So it's typically a very good entry point to enter and first of all, do some markets in the German market. This is the next program, we have big pharma, we have big chemical players, which already confirmed the participation. We have already the first application from the startup side, and this is really one of our major events. It will take place on February, 7 to 11.

And, yeah, this is the next big thing we are currently working on. 

Ivan Dunskiy: And is this an online event? 

Marco Majer: Yes. Due to the current situation of COVID, we decided to have a fully virtual event also more helpful for startups. They need to fly in for just a week or a couple of days. And it's fully virtual. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. So we are coming to the end of an interview. What kind of advice can you give to startups who would like to enter the German market and introduce their solution to corporates? 

Marco Majer: Yeah, first of all, I think it's very, very important to see who our potential supporters are in the market. Obviously, 5-HT can play a role but are much more relevant players out there, and really be sure what is the goal, am I a day or two, which just do some sales, am I in a position to further adjust and co-develop my product. So why would you like to expand the German market? This is very important. Then reach out to support us. The German government, GTA, they have an organization to support startups and help them what are regulatory aspects, what are funding opportunities, what are our visa opportunities. So there are plenty of supporters who reach out to them first and together with them, you can then define your strategy to enter the market. And, yeah. Then, be curious. Network it's people business also in Germany.

If you speak the language, that's a big plus, and you can also hire people, to support your journey and then talk, connect, meet relevant people. And then you need to decide if it's worth it to feel the stress and further put resources into the German market, or maybe after a while, you need to pause and focus on a different market.

But supporters are very much there, especially in digital health. And there are plenty of initiatives currently ongoing and it's one of the biggest topics and hottest topics at the moment. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, I love the advice and like your vision, that there is a people business and to understand what is going on you need to talk. That's very simple, but often startups forget to do that. They just create products focusing on their product. But sometimes you just need to talk and that's key to understanding what's going on in reality.

Marco Majer: That's true. Yeah. 

[39:31] Rapid Fire Round (3 questions)

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. I appreciate that. I think that things that we have covered are very useful, especially for startups that want to enter the German market, that you shared the differentiation between different types of providers, like what they need, how better to approach them. So I'd like to end an interview with the exercise called Rapid Fire Round. So I will ask you several questions and you give answers to whatever you want. 

Marco Majer: Okay. 

Ivan Dunskiy: So, the first question is what is your favorite book? 

Marco Majer: So I have many favorite books. When it comes to digital, I would recommend Amy Webb The big nine. So she focused on the big nine corporates in the US and in China and how to dramatically change society, economy, and even politics. So, The big nine by Amy Webb. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Thank you. What is the location that impressed you the most? 

Marco Majer: The location that impressed me the most. So, I would go with the Great Wall of China.

So I've luckily spent a master's time in Beijing and visited the Great Wall of China and it was super impressive. Not digital at all. Fully physical was super impressive how manmade, humankind could build up such a long and huge wall was super, super impressive. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. And what is the one piece of advice that you would give to your 20 years old self?

Marco Majer: The advice to my 20 years old self. It wouldn't be that much advice but similar to the one I mentioned to startups, in the end, the network is your net worth. So maybe grades are important but, in the end, you need to know who is active in this area. So network, network, network is the key and still focused on good grades in school and in university.

But the network is the most essential part. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, I love the phrase. Network is your worth. Yeah. I never heard it before. Thank you, Marco, for your time that you shared so much. Before we finish, what is the best way to get in touch with you? If people want to connect? 

Marco Majer: Yeah, actually, it's a LinkedIn, in a digital space, just connect with me, reach out to me, say, Hey, Marco, I'm currently a startup. Thinking about entering a German market. Could you help me? 

And then I'll reply. You can also visit our 5-ht.com website. But as I mentioned, I'll prefer LinkedIn as it's people's business reach out to me, and I and my team will help you at least find a partner, give you some advice, give feedback, and yeah, I would appreciate becoming a contact with some of you, guys.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, of course. We will add all the links in the interview, in the resources section, as well as the link to the boot camp. I think that could be a very exciting entry point for startups. So thank you, Marco, for your time, and thank you, listeners. We will see you in the next episodes.

Who is behind the HealthTech Beat podcast

We are a team of IT professionals who like sharing technical knowledge with healthcare industry people.

At Demigos, we generate ideas on how to improve product performance, design, and positioning based on our experience building complex health tech solutions.

Check our blog with articles on the related topics: https://demigos.com/blog/.

And our cases in healthtech: https://demigos.com/healthtech/.

Connect the podcast’ host and the CEO of Demigos Ivan Dunskiy on Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/ivan-dunskiy-73719368/

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