An external collaboration platform in R&D, education, technology, and government affairs, I•DREAM is an AstraZeneca initiative being implemented through local bio-hubs across our Emerging Markets. The initiative was launched in 2018 as part of our ambitious drive to create integrated science ecosystems across our International Region. These bio-hubs improve local capacity for R&D to address local needs and reinforce our commitment to create and strengthen partnerships across emerging biomedical clusters to accelerate innovation, increase healthcare access and improve outcomes for society and patients.
In 2018, AstraZeneca launched I•Dream hubs in Russia, Brazil and Taiwan, and in 2019 implemented hubs in China, Argentina, India and Hong Kong.
- Russia, July 2018 – We launched our Russia I•Dream biomedical hub in July 2018 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Skolkovo Foundation, which focuses on R&D, education of highly-skilled professionals for the pharmaceutical industry, as well as additional joint research activities. Since the Russia hub was established, we have run two start-up challenge events, in collaboration with Skolkovo, to win a place on its accelerator programme, in which companies get intensive support from AstraZeneca for six months. Two of the Challenge winners also won prizes at the Skolkovo Foundation’s ‘Start-up Village’ congress for their products: a non-invasive glucometer; and a system of using bio microneedle applicators for the painless transdermal delivery of vaccines and medicine.
- The signing of an MoU between the Skolkovo Foundation and I•Campus (our International Life Science Innovation Campus in Wuxi, China) cements a cross-cluster partnership that will promote collaborative learning and working between our two hubs. This agreement encourages Chinese and Russian companies to work more closely together, as well as hosting delegations and visits on the ground: in Wuxi in September 2019, two Skolkovo associates, BrainBeat LLC and Botkin AI LLC, showcased their innovative tech at the World Internet of Things (WIOT) exposition.
- Brazil, August 2018 - We signed a MoU with the Brazilian Israeli Beneficent Society Albert Einstein in August 2018, launching the Brazil I•Dream hub. This collaboration programme focuses on all of our therapeutic areas and includes initiatives to foster early- and late-stage clinical development. Through the acceleration of start-ups, and the implementation of educational programmes, we’re supporting innovation and growth for the future.
- One key initiative from the Brazilian hub is a four-way collaborative project, involving our local incubator, Eretz Bio, local start-up EpHealth, and Professor Otavio Berwanger, Director of the Research Institute HCor, Heart Hospital. The EpHealth start-up has an online platform, accessible to hundreds of public health agents, for registering and monitoring primary care diseases. Making available the health data of more than two million Brazilian citizens, sampled from across more than 3,000 small cities, this initiative is designed to form the basis of a scientific publication on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Brazilian patients, with the ambition to evolve into a Real-World Evidence database and tool.
- Taiwan, September 2018 - In September 2018, we signed a Letter of Intent with the Taiwanese Government’s flagship biopharmaceutical innovation hub (BioHub Taiwan) launching our Taiwan I•Dream hub. In July 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during the Bio Asia Taiwan Conference in Taipei, formalising our partnership with BioHub Taiwan. The MoU forms the basis of the I•Dream collaboration platform in Taiwan, and the partnership will accelerate innovative science by supporting start-ups and fostering the development of biomedical ecosystems that improve patient care.
- As part of the MoU, we launched an ‘Accelerator Programme’ to support local start-ups and teams to bring their innovations to market and patients faster. Entitled the 2019 NBRP (National Biotechnology Research Park) BioMed Start-up Challenge, we will work closely with the NBRP to provide these start-ups with training and mentorship to uncover the very best local innovative solutions across Oncology, CVRM, and Respiratory therapy areas, and a broader digital health domain.
- China, March 2019 - In March 2019, we signed a MoU with the Wuxi High-tech District at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference to build an International Life Science Innovation Campus (I•Campus) in conjunction with the Wuxi municipal government. On September 2019, in partnership with the Wuxi Government, we celebrated the official opening of I•Campus and marked the signing of the first partners and initial 10 companies to join the campus.
- The I•Campus brings together innovative 4D (Drug, Device, Diagnosis and Digital) companies, government, and medical and academic institutions together via an open collaboration platform, helping to accelerate healthcare innovation and sciences in China. We leverage our global R&D networks, industrial resources and business operation capabilities with cross-border partnership, creating an innovative incubation platform that integrates R&D, incubation, demonstrations and commercial launching.
- Argentina, April 2019 - We launched the Argentina I•Dream hub in April 2019 with the signing of a Collaboration Agreement with the Argentinian Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation to focus on Precision Medicine, which will help to develop the health environment in Argentina towards the adoption of new paradigm both in diagnosis and treatment, with the objectives of identifying which patients could benefit more from innovation. Several projects are already in progress, including a partnership with the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET).
- Following the signing of a second MoU with the National Secretary of Health in August 2019, the next step is to adapt the Genomics and Bioinformatics Platform with the National Administration of Laboratories and Institutes of Health (ANLIS), currently focused on epidemiological vigilance for infectious diseases, for genomic diagnosis in Oncology, associated with a guidelines update and stratified educational plan. By promoting further partnership and collaboration between science and technology developments, and health system adoption of Precision Medicines, we are bringing people together to innovate and promote equity and access in the public sector.
- India, April 2019 - The India I•Dream hub was established in April 2019 as part of the recent expansion of our strategic collaborations to address the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in the country. It complements our strategic partnership with the National Association of Software and Services Companies, enabling us to run an accelerator for health start-ups – further supporting the thriving start-up culture in India.
- With NASSCOM, the national trade association for tech companies, India is one of the first official partners for I•Campus (our International Life Science Innovation in Wuxi, China), guaranteeing a promising future for collaboration and innovative growth in both great regions. Tricog, the AI healthcare company, is one of the first ten companies to partner with I•Campus, promoting cross-continental working between bio-clusters. Attending the World Internet of Things (WIOT) exposition in Wuxi, China, the founder of Tricog spoke of the support the company had received through the I•Dream network.
- Hong Kong, September 2019 - In September 2019 we signed MoUs with the Society for Innovative Healthcare Hong Kong (SIHHK) and Sanomics, a diagnostics company, to launch our Hong Kong I•Dream hub. The partnerships will help to develop innovative healthcare solutions in Hong Kong and also in China, where both partners agreed collaborations with the new I•Campus biohub at its official opening on 7 September.
- SIHHK has also signed MoUs to establish partnerships with Jiangnan University Affiliated Hospital and Wuxi Health and Health Committee, to exchange and discuss future opportunities for collaboration around healthcare innovation, in order to develop better medical solutions for patients. This includes support with plans to implement smart hospitals and health management models, in combination with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, to design or optimise patient-centred care. Further partnerships will be announced as I•Dream continues to develop in Hong Kong.