An open innovation program that aims to empower entrepreneurs and digital health businesses to develop disruptive health solutions through the use of digital technologies.

Who are we looking for?

PASSION

You are passionate about disrupting the health industry using digital technologies.

NEED

You are addressing a real and verified need.

FOCUS

You are focused on Central Nervous System, Cardio-metabolism, Pain, Gastro-intestinal or Oncology (other therapeutic areas will also be considered).

HEALTH

You are developing solutions for patients who are ill or suffering from illness related disabilities (i.e. not wellness).

What is ferrer 4 FUTURE Program?

We at Ferrer believe that digital health is about putting patient’s needs first and developing digital solutions across the patient care value chain (physicians, caregivers, payers, hospitals and so on) to address those needs in a manner that enhances the patient’s human experience. We also recognize that the knowledge and experience of pharma companies needs to be balanced with the creativity and agility of start-ups and small businesses.
 
Through ferrer 4 FUTURE program, we aim to create a platform for collaboration between start ups and us to explore digital health solutions together that can build healthier societies.

COUNTDOWN TIMER!

DAYS
HOURS
MINUTES
SECONDS

SPRINGCHALLENGE 2020

CHALLENGE_1

Anticipating
movement
disorder crises

Can we use digital technologies to help patients with movement disorders to reliably predict the next crisis such that the patient can take pre-emptive action to avoid or manage the impact of condition?

CHALLENGE_2

Treating cognitive
and behavioural
disorders

Can we use digital technologies to help patients with cognitive and behavioural disorders to improve social adaptation, and vital expectations, while reducing their reliance on caregivers and improving their quality of life?

CHALLENGE_3

Reducing pain severity
and managing drug
dosage

Can we help patients suffering from pain, including those on opioids, manage their pain better through the use of digital technologies?

Challenge_1
x

Anticipating movement disorder crises

Overview

Patients who frequently suffer from movement disorder crises (such as tremors, OFF episodes in Parkinson’s, or restless legs symptoms in Willis-Ekbom disease), are in a position where those symptoms are very debilitating in their daily lives. Patients are at high risk of developing physical injuries due to falls or accidents and, patients can suffer from psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.

Movement disorders are characterized by multiple manifestations including but not limited to difficulty moving (walking), speaking and swallowing, twitching or jerking movements, even convulsions, that sometimes can be accompanied by loss of consciousness.1 Because the warning signs of a crisis are not always present or reliably perceived by the patient, there is a need for sensors (wearable, implantable or patch among others) that could detect the warning signs. In this way, the patient would be alerted to an upcoming episode, thereby enabling the patient to take proactive steps such the intake of a medication with fast onset of action.

Challenge

Can we use digital technologies to find a reliable way to predict if a patient is going to have a movement crisis early enough such that the patient is able to take pre-emptive action? Please note that warning signs indicating that a crisis is imminent may include ‘aura’ (pro-drom), psychic symptoms, auditory hallucinations, olfactory hallucinations, numbness, anxiety among others. The solution should allow patients to continue their normal lives with no to minimal interference and may involve all relevant stakeholders in the patient care value chain.

1Abdo, W., van de Warrenburg, B., Burn, D. et al. The clinical approach to movement disorders. Nat Rev Neurol 6, 29–37 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrneurol.2009.196

Challenge_2
x

Treating cognitive and behavioural disorders

Overview

Patients suffering from a cognitive and behavioural disorders with a neurological involvement, regardless of whether it has neurodevelopmental1 (ASD, ADHD, NLD,…), neurodegenerative2 (Alzheimer, dementia,..), brain injuries, or tumours origins, heavily rely on their caregivers and therapists for support on daily chores. Typically, therapeutical assistance goes to task for rehabitation of impairments as:  vision loss, visuospatial or balance disorders, verbal expression and communicative difficulties, attention or memory deficits, or effective and social skills problems. Digital solutions for these disorders currently focus on cognitive stimulation through games and tests, while solutions that reduce patients’ dependence from caregivers and therapists between patient and doctor, as well as a better quality of life.

Challenge

We would be looking at solutions that allow patients to connect with and leverage relevant stakeholders, to offer more personalized and intensive treatments, to achieve more independence and improved relationships. Can we use digital technologies to help patients with cognitive and behavioural disorders to improve social adaptation, and vital expectations, while reducing their reliance on caregivers and improving their quality of life?

1. The first sub-challenge concerns adult patients with alterations in brain functions due to degenerative processes (dementia, Alzheimer's...), cerebrovascular accidents (ABI), traumas (accidents) or tumour processes. The solution would have to include cognitive rehabilitation or behavioural reeducations programs or treatments to improve their adaptabilities skills and so their performance in life.

2. The second sub-challenge is oriented towards neurodevelopmental disorders (including but not limited to autism spectrum disorders, hyperactivity and attention deficits, language disorders, among others) in children & adults. The solution would be a digital approach for rehabilitation interventions for cognitive impairment attention focus, memory, learning and language development, social skills) and for the associated behavioural or emotional disorders it may also be a treatment of related symptoms (aggressiveness, negativity).

1https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(16)30376-5/fulltext

2https://dmm.biologists.org/content/10/5/499#abstract-1

Challenge_3
x

Reducing pain severity and managing drug dosage

Overview

Pain is a psychosomatic response dependent on an objective component (the strength of sensory signal sent to the brain) and a subjective component (a combination of cognitive, emotional and behavioural response) that affects how the pain is perceived and reported.1 As a result, not only patient’s response to pain medication is highly variable but patient’s self-reporting of pain may also be erratic and unreliable making it difficult for the doctor to decide on optimal drug dosage.2 This challenge aims at finding digital technologies for optimal dose-adjustment of pain medications, including opioid treatments, where there is a need to guarantee enough comfort to the patient while reducing the risk of adverse events.

Challenge

Can we improve pain management of patients, including those that rely on opioids, using digital technologies? Can we help doctor-patient relationship and communication by objectivizing reporting of pain? The solution should present a systematic and measurable approach to pain management involving all relevant stakeholders.

1. The first sub-challenge looks at how to predict, detect and reduce opioid misuse to prevent dosage escalation? The solution would involve monitoring the actual dose (i.e. surrogate marker for the concentration of drug in the patients’s body) vs. the actual need of the patient (i.e. captured through digital pain biomarkers). The goal being to ensure that the patient is not under-treated and, at the same time, is not bearing pain.

2. The second sub-challenge explores whether multi-modular treatments (i.e. digital support in combination with drug therapies) may be an alternative to dose escalation of anti-pain drugs in rehabilitation patients, athletes with intensive articular use or elderly population. The solution could involve connected Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) devices, etc.

1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3438523/

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24051610

 

Past Edition 2019

..And the winner of Winter Challenges 2019 is
..And the winner of Winter Challenges 2019 is
Improve Care
for chronic patients

Deadline: 20/12/2019
Challenge Owner

Eloi Torcal
Corporate product manager
Claudia Roca
Corporate marketing manager

Overview

Patients who suffer from severe chronic illnesses are often reliant on care givers in order to their maintain quality of life. This loss of freedom coupled with an already stressed care system in many parts of the world leads to a challenging life for many patients.

For example, PAH (Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension) patients currently have a bleak outlook as the disease is progressive and without cure. Patients live an average of 7-10 year from diagnosis and gradually see their mobility decreased. Patients eventually have to rely on continuous infusion pump therapy1 and are completely reliant on their support network (i.e. family members, doctors, nurses and physicians).

Challenge

How can we improve care, for chronic patients such as those suffering from advanced PAH symptoms and reduce the burden on their support network using digital solutions?

  1. Can we better track and monitor patients through a digitally enhanced solution?
  2. Can we provide guidance and troubleshoot common issues for patients digitally?
  3. Can we complement the patient support network, which is primarily face to face, though digital means?
  4. Can we help patients cope with pain and emotional distress using digital technologies?
  5. Can we reduce frequent patient visits to care centres for medicine collection and related tests?
1 Continuous pump therapy involves patients receiving a continuous dosage of drug(on a 24/7 basis) through a subcutaneous or implantable pump. Please click on each type to see an example.

Improve patient engagement and adherence


Deadline: 20/12/2019
Challenge Owner

Carme Trepat
Head of Marketing

Overview

Half of the patients suffering from silent chronic cardiovascular diseases (CVD) stop taking their medication within 3 months of being diagnosed.1 The silent CVDs include coronary artery diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension and patients who are at an increased risk of heart attack and stoke (due to a previous event) and are now the leading cause of death.

In order for a person to take an action, three things need to happen first according to Dr. BJ Fogg (a psychologist and founder of Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab). First, the person needs to be motivated to perform the action. Second, the person needs to have the ability to perform that action. Finally, the person needs to have a trigger or a prompt which initiates the action2.

Most of the medical adherence solutions tend to focus on triggers through reminder applications etc. however the majority of non-adherence issues arise from lack of motivation or ability.

Challenge

How can we improve medication adherence using digital technologies for chronic patients suffering from silent CVDs so that they can live longer and healthier lives?

  1. Can we better motivate patients to adhere to medication?
  2. Can we increase the ability of patients to adhere to medication?
  3. Can we find novel and non intrusive ways to trigger people to take their medication?
1 Please refer to following article to learn more about medication adherence issues.
2Please refer to following article to learn more about BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Model.
Manage chronic pain
Deadline: 20/12/2019
Challenge Owner

José Luís Lirio
Dir. U. Hospitals

Overview

Pain that a patient feels has two components: the objective component which is primarily the sensory response including the strength of signal sent to the brain and a subjective component which is a combination of cognitive, emotional and behavioural response that affects how the pain is perceived and reacted to. 1

The four responses (sensory, cognitive, emotional and behavioural) together create and modulate the intensity of pain felt by patients. Because pain is both physiological and psychological (i.e. psychophysiological) and hence personal to the individual, the current method of treatment which is somewhat generic and primarily focused on physiological aspects (i.e. sensory response) leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Challenge

How can we help patients suffering from chronic pain using digital solutions that enable them to have a better quality of life?

  1. Can we find a better and more objective way for patients to communicate the intensity of pain felt with doctors? Use cases: regular clinical practice, clinical trials, etc.
  2. Can we deliver targeted pain therapies digitally to patients leveraging one or more of the four responses above to reduce pain and dependence on drugs?
  3. Can we help patients, doctors and caregivers better track and monitor pain using digital technologies?
  4. Can we leverage digital technologies to build more connected pain therapy devices? Example: TENS 2
1 Please read this article by Eric L Garland to learn more about how pain is processed by us. 2 TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which use s electric current (low intensity) through a small hand held device to treat neuropathic pain.
Improve Care
for chronic patients

Deadline: 20/12/2019
Challenge Owner

Eloi Torcal
Corporate product manager
Claudia Roca
Corporate marketing manager

Overview

Patients who suffer from severe chronic illnesses are often reliant on care givers in order to their maintain quality of life. This loss of freedom coupled with an already stressed care system in many parts of the world leads to a challenging life for many patients.

For example, PAH (Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension) patients currently have a bleak outlook as the disease is progressive and without cure. Patients live an average of 7-10 year from diagnosis and gradually see their mobility decreased. Patients eventually have to rely on continuous infusion pump therapy1 and are completely reliant on their support network (i.e. family members, doctors, nurses and physicians).

Challenge

How can we improve care, for chronic patients such as those suffering from advanced PAH symptoms and reduce the burden on their support network using digital solutions?

  1. Can we better track and monitor patients through a digitally enhanced solution?
  2. Can we provide guidance and troubleshoot common issues for patients digitally?
  3. Can we complement the patient support network, which is primarily face to face, though digital means?
  4. Can we help patients cope with pain and emotional distress using digital technologies?
  5. Can we reduce frequent patient visits to care centres for medicine collection and related tests?
1 Continuous pump therapy involves patients receiving a continuous dosage of drug(on a 24/7 basis) through a subcutaneous or implantable pump. Please click on each type to see an example.
Improve patient engagement and adherence
Deadline: 20/12/2019
Challenge Owner

Carme Trepat
Head of Marketing

Overview

Half of the patients suffering from silent chronic cardiovascular diseases (CVD) stop taking their medication within 3 months of being diagnosed.1 The silent CVDs include coronary artery diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension and patients who are at an increased risk of heart attack and stoke (due to a previous event) and are now the leading cause of death.

In order for a person to take an action, three things need to happen first according to Dr. BJ Fogg (a psychologist and founder of Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab). First, the person needs to be motivated to perform the action. Second, the person needs to have the ability to perform that action. Finally, the person needs to have a trigger or a prompt which initiates the action2.

Most of the medical adherence solutions tend to focus on triggers through reminder applications etc. however the majority of non-adherence issues arise from lack of motivation or ability.

Challenge

How can we improve medication adherence using digital technologies for chronic patients suffering from silent CVDs so that they can live longer and healthier lives?

  1. Can we better motivate patients to adhere to medication?
  2. Can we increase the ability of patients to adhere to medication?
  3. Can we find novel and non intrusive ways to trigger people to take their medication?
1 Please refer to following article to learn more about medication adherence issues.
2Please refer to following article to learn more about BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Model.
Manage chronic pain
Deadline: 20/12/2019
Challenge Owner

José Luís Lirio
Dir. U. Hospitals

Overview

Pain that a patient feels has two components: the objective component which is primarily the sensory response including the strength of signal sent to the brain and a subjective component which is a combination of cognitive, emotional and behavioural response that affects how the pain is perceived and reacted to. 1

The four responses (sensory, cognitive, emotional and behavioural) together create and modulate the intensity of pain felt by patients. Because pain is both physiological and psychological (i.e. psychophysiological) and hence personal to the individual, the current method of treatment which is somewhat generic and primarily focused on physiological aspects (i.e. sensory response) leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Challenge

How can we help patients suffering from chronic pain using digital solutions that enable them to have a better quality of life?

  1. Can we find a better and more objective way for patients to communicate the intensity of pain felt with doctors? Use cases: regular clinical practice, clinical trials, etc.
  2. Can we deliver targeted pain therapies digitally to patients leveraging one or more of the four responses above to reduce pain and dependence on drugs?
  3. Can we help patients, doctors and caregivers better track and monitor pain using digital technologies?
  4. Can we leverage digital technologies to build more connected pain therapy devices? Example: TENS 2
1 Please read this article by Eric L Garland to learn more about how pain is processed by us. 2 TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which use s electric current (low intensity) through a small hand held device to treat neuropathic pain.
 

Benefits

 
 

Mentorship

We train you and mentor you and give you access to members of Start-up Advisory Board.

 

Partnership

We will partner with you on an ad-hoc basis to help develop your solution and accelerate your growth.

 

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Access

We will serve as a reference for you and introduce you to stakeholders and leaders in the health industry.

 

Investment

We will provide funding to pilot the solution and reach a commercial agreement.

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

SIGN-UP FOR A CHALLENGE

If you think you have a novel solution to one of our challenges, please apply by clicking on the "Apply" button below and choosing the specific challenge

25/05/2020

APPLICATION
OPENING

Submit your proposed solution to us by the posted deadline in no more than 10 slides.

28/08/2020

APPLICATION
DEADLINE

Q3 / 2020

INITIAL
PITCH

If shortlisted, you will be invited to deliver an initial pitch to us, 5-10 mins. We will evaluate you on five dimensions: need, competitive advantage, business model, team and compatibility with Ferrer.

Q4 / 2020

FINAL
PITCH

If successful, we will give you a chance to present your solution to our panel of experts in a final pitch, 1 hour. We will evaluate you on the five dimensions in greater depth as well as explore how f4F program can be adapted to your needs.

START DATE
DECEMBER 2020

WORK
WITH US

If we foresee a potential for collaboration, we will formally invite you to enrol into f4F program with ad hoc content and duration (3 to 18 months).

Collaborate with us

If you have a solution that doesn’t quite fit one of our challenges but would like to collaborate with us, we’d love to hear from you. Please tell us about your proposal by clicking the Collaborate With Us button and we will engage in conversation to learn more.

Start-up Advisory Board

Highlights

Ferrer launches the second edition of the Ferrer 4 Future program to improve the health of society through technology

Barcelona, May 21st, 2020

Participating start-ups will be able to propose digital solutions for 3 challenges, the first one in the area of movement disorders, the second one in cognitive-behavioural disorders and the third one in chronic pain management.

img

And the winner is?

February 2020

Ferrer announces Wellthy Therapeutics as the winner of Ferrer 4 Future Winter Challenges 2019

and the winner

Frontiers Health

13th-15th November 2019

We presented F4F program to the international entrepreneurs, investors, and media attending the Berlin-based conference.

frontiers health

Barcelona Tech City

5th November 2019

We discussed Ferrer's challenges with entrepreneurs at Pier 01, leading Digital Hub in Barcelona.

Barcelona

Come and meet us soon

img

Contact Us

CONTROLLER Grupo Ferrer Internacional, S.A. with address at Av. Diagonal 549, 5th Floor, 08029, Barcelona (Spain).
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION You can consult the additional and detailed information on data protection in the following link.

FAQ

How to apply for a challenge?
Go to the Challenge page and click on the “Apply” button for each individual challenge that you wish to apply. In case that your solution does not quite solve any of the challenges but you would like to collaborate with us, we are curious to hear from you. Please click on the “Collaborate with us “ button and send us your message.
Who can apply for challenges?
We invite entrepreneurs and businesses from all stages to apply for challenges. However, as we look for concrete solutions, the start-ups we work with tend to have a working minimum viable product or prototype.
Can I apply to more than one challenge?
Yes, you may apply to as many challenges as you wish.
What is the criteria for selection?
We evaluate your solution on five key areas: does your solution address a verified need, is your solution unique or has a clear competitive edge over other solutions, is the business model suitable, sustainable and scalable, does the team have the right experience, motivation and capabilities, and finally, the degree of compatibility with Ferrer.
How can I learn more about Ferrer 4 Future program?
Click on Contact Us above and send us your query or meet us at one of the events such as HIMMS 2020.
How many start-ups will be part of the program?
There is no fixed number of start-ups who will be part of the program. We will evaluate the solutions based on merit and whether there is an opportunity for collaboration.
What will happen to challenge winners?
Challenge winners will win prizes and will be invited to enroll into Ferrer for future program.
Who will finance my trips and stays in X city or Y country?
We do not sponsor trips/ stays. As such, you will be responsible for your own expenses associated with challenges and pitches.
How to apply for collaboration outside of challenges?
Click on Contact Us above or Collaborate With Us button to send us your details. Please also indicate the collaboration area you’re interested in when contacting us. Our active therapeutic areas of interest are Pain, Central Nervous System, Cardio-metabolism, Dermatology, Gynaecology, Gastro-intestinal and Oncology.
Are you open for collaboration in areas other than movement disorders, cognitive behaviour disorders and pain?
Yes, we are interested in collaborationg in all therapeutic areas that are core to Ferrer like broad CNS, Hypertension, specific rare diseases, etc
How long will the collaboration last?
The collaboration timeline depends on multiple factors such as your solution, pace of development, internal and external influences & hurdles. However, you consider that we are looking for long term collaboration partners to disrupt digital health.
Is Ferrer 4 Future a venture fund/ arm of Ferrer?
No, Ferrer 4 Future is not a venture fund. Ferrer 4 future is a collaboration platform between us and the start-ups. We are interested in solutions that we can collaborate on to disrupt or build capabilities in digital health instead of solely returns. However, funds for investment will be available on a case by case basis as required.
Whom can I contact if I have more questions?
Click on Contact Us above and send us your query.
What to do if I have an IT issue?
Click on Contact Us above and tell about the issue.