"Looking for breakthrough innovations, because the health system needs to be transformed"
With over 20 years' experience of innovation and digital transformation, particularly in the health and life sciences sector, Corinne Marsolier recently joined Angels Santé and is supporting the development of start-ups in Europe. She takes a look back at her experience of being a member of the selection committee for the 2016 EDF Pulse Awards.
What does the Angels Santé network do?
It's the first Business Angels network for health in Europe. It brings together private investors with significant experience of the health sector. It has over 60 members from the world of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, IT, health advice, insurance, mass-market retail, pharmacies, medicine and well-being. Every month, we organise meetings with start-ups where they put forward their projects. The most promising then move onto a mentoring stage, where we analyse their potential and their economic models in greater depth. We invest in start-ups at the seed stage, which explains our fairly natural partnership with EDF's initiative: these awards allow us to seek out hidden gems to keep an eye on. And, of course, we support them via financial investment but we also monitor them over time, providing our skills, expertise and networks.
Is this the first time you have personally been involved in the EDF Pulse Awards?
Yes, but it's not the first time I've been a judge. For 15 years, I worked in the field of health and IT-related innovation at the equipment provider Cisco, where my roles included strategy support and implementation work, as well as assessing health projects and selecting start-ups. I'm also a juror for the Hult Prize, sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, which aims to identify and support the most promising start-up each year that responds to a given challenge faced by society.
That's why we need to uncover ambitious projects rather than "gadgets", which are so prevalent in the e-health world.
As a juror, what were the qualities you looked for in candidates?
As well as EDF's selection criteria, I personally was interested in the impact that projects could have on society over a year and over five years. We're in a field where natural selection plays a very strong role – 90% of start-ups in e-health aren't around for more than 2-3 years. We have to be able to gauge their chance of survival. That's why we need to uncover ambitious projects rather than 'gadgets', which are so prevalent in the e-health world. That meant I was looking for breakthrough innovations, because the health system needs to be transformed. I also judged start-ups' ability to bring cultural changes to the medical sector. Rather than 'e-health' projects, a term which refers to more isolated initiatives, I prefer the term 'connected health' – innovations must truly be capable of integrating into the global health system. As a result, I was very pleased to see that the competition had a European scope and wasn't just focused on France, because today's market is international in scale.
Is it difficult being a juror?
At this stage in the competition, it's a real challenge, because you have to judge almost blindly – just based on the application, without interviewing the team face-to-face. The selection committee is a very enriching process built on discussion, on bringing together viewpoints from various experts, and on consensus.
Did any trends emerge among applicants this year?
The applications submitted were truly diverse. But aside from healthcare-related innovations, there was a strong theme based on well-being, prevention, managing disabilities and self-empowering patients. There were therefore a lot of projects based around digital platforms and managing data from daily living in order to improve monitoring and prevention and to provide more appropriate care and faster recovery for the patient.