The second Annual Lyfebulb-Novo Nordisk Innovation Summit and Award was a huge success! We just returned from a cold but sunny Copenhagen, Denmark, where 12 of the most innovative thinkers in diabetes management competed in a challenge in front of top Novo, Lyfebulb and other life sciences professionals, engaged with each other and point people at Novo Nordisk, and participated in work-shops and one-on-ones to both learn and teach.
The concept we created three years ago – patient entrepreneurship – has taken off, and what we saw last week was a true reflection of the idea that people living with disease or in close proximity of someone with the disease, can identify and solve for problems that may not be apparent to those with no connection beyond business and science. Diabetes is the first disease we have embarked on, for personal reasons, since I was diagnosed with T1D in 1989 and have been pursuing better solutions for myself and others since.
Our jury this year was strong, including top venture capitalists Shomit Gose (Managing Director ONSET Ventures) and Dr Magnus Persson (Chairman at Galecto BioTech and board professional), as well as leaders in diabetes treatment, Dr John Nolan (Special Advisor to the President at EASD) and Dr Shaukat Sadikot (President at the International Diabetes Foundation) and finally a patient representative, beautiful and smart, Vanessa Pirolo, T1D (board member ADJ Brazil).
In my opinion, it was very difficult to judge the finalists since they ranged widely across consumer products, coding, and medical devices, across genders, age and experience levels, and I found them to fall into three categories:
1: Investable opportunities for pure VCs
2: Partnering opportunities for healthcare companies
3: Community-platforms for awareness and advocacy
The winners, Amin Zayani of MedAngel – making sure the insulin we inject is functional, Linh Le (represented by Malcolm Nason) of Bonbouton – detecting foot ulcers before they occur, and Jen Horonjeff of Savvy Coop – connecting patients with companies to solve problems, represent the three categories and we applaud them for their inspiring presentations!
As a company focused on improving the quality of life for people with chronic disease, we see all the finalists as partners in our fight, and hope to work closely with them going forward.
In addition to the top three we have to mention the fabulous and gorgeous OneDrop (led by the ultimate diabadass, Jeff Dachis, digital marketing guru), our NYC friends Matt Loper, Wellth – using behavioral economics to improve outcomes, David Weingard, Fit4D – scaling CDEs and driving toward better glucose management, and close by in Connecticut, Charlie O’Connell, FitScript – making exercise safe for everyone with diabetes. More distant, but equally strong in their passion include French entrepreneur, Laurent Nicolas and DiabNext – simple solutions to monitor glucose and dose insulin through your phone, the highly energetic Australian, Josh Wulf, Magicraft – coding for children with diabetes, Canadian Aaron Horowitz and his Jerry the Bear, Sproutel – making a diabetes diagnosis become a super power for children, Fierce Liz Sacco with her inspiring story about developing a clever solution to clean up the blood post-monitoring with DiabeticDabs, and finally Slovenian Luca Zaponcic, CarbEasy and his smart scale to simplify carb-counting.
We cannot wait to see them all take next steps, raise more funds and further their projects toward success in the market place, since that means that patients all over the world will live a little better with their diabetes!
To investors reading this note – please let us know if you want more information about any of these companies – they are in fund-raising mode and we want them to succeed and you to make money while doing good for people with diabetes.
Finally, thank you Novo Nordisk, our fabulous partner who took a chance on us last year, and has shown such spirit and common Mission in our pursuit toward reducing the burden of diabetes everyday.