Supporting innovators, driving healthcare evolution: Slush and AstraZeneca want to create new opportunities with aspiring healthcare start-ups


Ryan Bate, Scientific Partnering and Alliances Director, Medical International, AstraZeneca & Magnus Björsne, CEO, AstraZeneca BioVentureHub AB, AstraZeneca

To bring about change in healthcare, it is necessary to disrupt the existing industry ecosystem. At AstraZeneca, we share with our partners, Slush, a belief that the key to addressing current healthcare challenges – and those of the future – is cross-industry collaboration. In this way, we may enable different stakeholders to come together and channel the full force of their collective capabilities and expertise into developing solutions.

In 2020, Slush and AstraZeneca established a partnership through our Emerging Markets Health Innovation Hubs to provide a central platform for digital, medical and scientific innovators working on cutting-edge solutions related to healthcare. The platform allows innovators to connect directly with us and to benefit from our company resources, mentoring and innovation networks, supporting them in the co-creation or incubation of patient-focused solutions that target unmet need, and address existing gaps in diagnosis, treatment and medical access.

In 2021, our partnership with Slush began operating at a global level, helping us to forge non-traditional connections between a broader base of health-tech entrepreneurs, innovators and start-ups – this unlocked even more opportunities for these stakeholders to accelerate innovation and explore new possibilities for working collaboratively toward developing the next generation of healthcare solutions.

As our partnership evolves, Slush will be supporting the work of our A.Catalyst Network – an interconnected and dynamic global network of more than 20 health innovation hubs, powered by AstraZeneca. Made up of physical locations and virtual partnerships, the network embodies our commitment to ‘Growth Through Innovation’, serving as a ‘catalyst’ to develop new solutions for patients. These innovation hubs bring together digital, R&D and commercial resources to reimagine how outcomes can be improved across the whole patient journey.

As of July 2021, the A.Catalyst Network hubs have collectively established more than 212 partnerships. Over 70 of these are with long-term partners, while seven others, including Slush, may be regarded as ‘anchor partners’ who have supported the establishment of the hubs.

Together, the hubs have reached over 559,000 patients, influenced more than 110 projects and partnerships aligned with our product strategy and mentored over 223 start-ups, helping to scale 10 solutions, all whilst continuing to contribute to inclusive and sustainable growth.

AstraZeneca and Slush looking to the future of healthcare

Together with Slush, we have achieved so much over the last year, and following the success of our collaboration, we want to hear more about what innovators, entrepreneurs, and the founders of new healthcare solutions start-ups have to say.

We have compiled a short 10-minute survey, providing stakeholders with a platform to share  what they feel are most important aspects collaborative partnerships within the industry, and how we can further support the development of their healthcare solutions.  

Why participate in our survey?

Firstly, we recognise the importance of understanding what founders are looking for from their partners and funders. By leveraging the existing infrastructure of the A.Catalyst Network, we are committed to providing support on a global scale, working with local governments, academia and capital, as well as other start-up and aspiring partners, to uplift their individual capabilities while generating opportunities for further growth and development.

Perhaps you have developed a solution with the potential to revolutionise healthcare and the patient experience within your market; how could AstraZeneca and other organisations help you to accelerate the scaling of that solution?

Secondly, we know that truly successful partnerships require mutual trust, respect and participation, with equal value placed on each partner’s contributions – it must be a relationship that provides benefit for all. Are there any other specific qualities you are looking for in a partnership? What does an equitable and effective partnership look like for you?

Finally, we understand the necessity for sustainable growth and the value of ethics and transparency. At AstraZeneca, we foster a diverse and inclusive culture across the network that allows a rich variety of ideas and expertise to be exchanged, enabling each hub to harness the strength and diversity of their teams. What are your perspectives on diversity, equality and inclusion within your business?

Whether you are part of a long-established organisation or a recently launched start-up, we want to hear from you.

Please share your thoughts by completing our 10-minute survey by 30 September and we will send you a comprehensive report of our findings shortly after the survey closes.


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