Collaboration across industry verticals to support local innovations

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Ryan Bate, International Medical Scientific Partnering and Alliances Director

From the development of gene-based therapies, to the use of artificial intelligence to optimise medical practice, we have seen many game-changing advancements in healthcare over the past few decades. Yet, there are still many pressing health challenges that science still needs to solve. Ryan Bate shares his thoughts on why needs-driven innovation is paramount to improving health outcomes in emerging markets across the world.

Collaboration across industries is crucial to accelerate innovations and create the best possible outcome for patients. With the formation of the A.Catalyst Network, we developed a platform that would bring together brilliant minds from healthcare, venture capital, technology, academia and public sector to help solve the health challenges of today and tomorrow.  The Network consists of more than 20 AstraZeneca health innovation hubs spanning APAC, Europe, North and South America, made up of physical locations and virtual partnerships, each with a different research focus tailored to local challenges and needs. 

Leveraging partnerships to identify undiagnosed lung disease patients in China

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a debilitating and incurable lung disease, is ranked first among the burdens of diseases in China.1 Early intervention is critical to protect the lungs from further damage, but patients with mild forms of the disease often face delays in diagnosis, due to a lack of effective screening and diagnosis processes.

Early diagnosis and treatment is key to the prevention and control of COPD, and the national policy of popularizing pulmonary function tests among people over 40 years of age should be actively implemented.

Chen Wang, M.D Ph.D Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The China Health Innovation Hub (iCampus), part of the A. Catalyst Network, partnered with local and national physicians and CHIC Health, a medical AI technology company, to find a solution to the existing diagnoses challenges. iCampus supported CHIC Health with company registration acceleration, talent, and literature publication. Together, we developed a digital and AI-enhanced solution for COPD screening and diagnosis (CDSS).

The solution leverages machine learning to improve the accuracy of screening and help physicians to intervene in a timely manner. CDSS was rapidly embedded in hospitals across 30 provinces/cities across China. As of September 2021, CHIC Health successfully completed 4.5 million screening tests and is now the largest respiratory screening platform in China.

Advancing health education amongst the patients of Gulf Council Corporation

The work of our A. Catalyst Network teams in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is another example of the value of patient-centric innovation in solving health challenges. Specifically, there was a lack of medical education available to patients within the GCC healthcare ecosystem.

The GCC heath innovation hub-conducted focus group discussions, which identified the need to create a credible channel to share patient-focused educational and disease awareness materials. Cross-industry collaborators, including diabetes AI platform Gendius, telemedicine app Trudoc and healthcare access company Axios were brought together develop and launch two patient-centered solutions: AZ EduGate and Health Gate.

  • AZ EduGate is an educational, interactive digital platform that helps healthcare providers better support their patients. The platform includes a variety of helpful materials, from live and recorded educational webcasts, to new technology-based diagnostic tools.
  • Health Gate is a patient support app to help those managing a range of health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart failure, lung cancer and asthma, to lead healthier and happier lives. Through this app, patients have direct access to a range of services, including medication delivery and direct communication with a certified doctor, and customised information that will help them better monitor and manage their condition.

The roll-out of both platforms has been a great success: On launch day, over 4,000 healthcare professionals enrolled onto AZEduGate. Rory Cameron, CEO of Gendius, highlights the impact of Health Gate on patients:

The development of Health Gate puts the patient at the center of their health journey. Our unique approach is all about using information from today to predict and prevent complications in the future which aligns perfectly with the Gendius and AstraZeneca shared vision of moving ‘beyond the pill.

Collaboration is key

At AstraZeneca, we believe that innovations do not happen in isolation. Only when trusted partnerships are formed will innovations truly flourish and bring us one step closer to improving health and wellbeing for all.

To do that, we need you!

No one company can have all the answers to solve such pressing health challenges, but together we can make tremendous strides forward and accelerate innovation in science and healthcare. The A.Catalyst Network is seeking new partners to continue our mission. If you have the same ambition to use innovation to shape the future of healthcare for the better, then we want to hear from you. Whether you’re a start-up, academic organisation or large company, apply to become our next partner on our A.Catalyst Network Portal.


1. Zhong, N. et al. Prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in China: a large, population-based survey. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 176, 753–760 (2007).


  • Partnering

Veeva ID: Z2-2483
Date of preparation: January 2022