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The city at the centre of biopharma industries

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Lucas Scherdel - DayOne

In an exclusive interview with HTW, the Director of DayOne tells us why the Swiss city is at the forefront of a digital health revolution.

Lucas Scherdel joins DayOne to Put Basel at the centre of the digital health world

The cosmopolitan beauty of Basel in Switzerland and its surrounding area has the largest biopharma industry of any location in Europe and the appetite for innovation in this global hub is huge. Lucas Scherdel, recognised in the Forbes list for his contribution to healthcare, is leading the charge to create Europe’s leading digital health Accelerator in Basel in his role at the helm of DayOne, a healthcare innovation initiative. He is an English-born health expert who has worked across the globe in a range of digital and strategic roles- from the National Health Service, to the World Economic Forum’s health and healthcare platform and both the European and Global Offices of the World Health Organization.

At the World Economic Forum he led the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare, an innovation initiative with an executive board that represents some of healthcare’s largest industry players. In previous roles, he pioneered an international innovation ecosystem approach to the transformation of health systems towards value-based healthcare. He has also worked with key decision makers to move the value-based healthcare, digital health and interoperability agendas forward, including governments and global initiatives such as ICHOM and the G20.

Lucas is an advocate for access to quality and universal health coverage and was the first ever non-medical National Co-Director of the health advocacy network, Medsin UK (now SfGH).

Throughout his career, he has been quoted by the press, including The Guardian and Forbes and has published extensively in journals for institutions such as The Lancet Global Health, Brookings, WHO, UNFCCC and the G20. He was recognised in the Forbes List 30 under 30 for his contributions towards healthcare in the Europe, Science and Healthcare Category in 2020.

Q. When did you assume your role at DayOne?

I joined in January 2021, the team have been so welcoming even while working remotely.

Q. Where will you take it?

Our ambition is to create Europe’s leading digital health accelerator and innovation platform based out of Basel. We are currently in talks with industry partners that share that vision with us. It’s an exciting time for us and for digital health in general. It really feels like momentum is building.

Q. Why do you see the Basel Area as the European hub for med tech?

The Basel Area has one of the global top 3 largest biopharma industries and is the biggest in Europe and the pace of innovation here is impressive. With access to France, Germany and Switzerland, it’s perfectly positioned to act as a launch pad and hub for digital health in Europe and beyond. There is a real heritage to the area as nearly everyone you meet works in healthcare somehow- it’s a great destination for industry leaders and offers a thriving ecosystem for start ups as well. You can see how it’s transitioning from being a Pharma leader to a healthcare innovation hub.

Q. What are the big breakthroughs in med tech?

In terms of digital health, AI is changing the game by enabling speech recognition and diagnostic imaging applications. This will lead to new diagnostics and better clinical management in the future. Remote monitoring and surveillance is also set to change our approach to critical conditions in the future. Digital therapeutics are still improving but have so much potential. I think the big breakthrough these will allow is more care at home and out of the hospital setting, which means better quality of life and reduced costs on the system.

Q. How has COVID-19 changed pharma?

In general, COVID-19 has buoyed confidence in biopharma as a result of increased spending and cooperation regarding vaccines. The industry has a renewed level of support from many as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic has also acted as an accelerator of the industry’s digitalization as it needed to stay in touch with its markets in virtual settings. Its next challenge will be transitioning to more sustainable models based on the digitalization of healthcare and that’s where we come in.

Q. What are your predictions?

My prediction is that in the future we will see a single European market open up for digital health innovations as a result of the EU’s Digital Health Single Market approach. When this happens, we will see Europe ascend and take its place as a key global digital health market.

My hope is that this will create an opportunity for better and more cost-effective healthcare across Europe which will be very timely and much needed as ageing populations and non-communicable diseases will continue to increase the cost of care. The ratio of ‘clicks’ to ‘bricks’ when it comes to healthcare will undeniably continue to increase so I would say digital health is a very solid investment for the future.

DayOne is on a mission to help shape the future of health with collaboration and partnerships through a unique innovation platform that puts the patient at the centre. DayOne is the Healthcare Innovation initiative managed by Basel Area Business & Innovation the Basel region’s innovation and promotion agency.

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