Industry leaders launch HealthHub 21 to scale-up digital solutions for faster & more accessible care

HealthHub21 Challenge
  • Applications are now open for the Novartis BIOME UK HealthHub 21 Challenge, in collaboration with KQ Labs and LifeArc.
  • HealthHub 21 is available to start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to scale-up solutions for digitising patient pathways and advancing remote care.
  • Participants will receive extensive support, including mentoring, networking opportunities, access to commercial and healthcare masterclasses, and investor meetings, as well as £50,000 funding from LifeArc.

Novartis UK has launched the Novartis BIOME UK HealthHub 21 Challenge, in collaboration with KQ Labs, the data-driven health accelerator of the Francis Crick Institute, and LifeArc, the charity helping to turn promising science into benefits for patients.

HealthHub 21 will provide mentoring advice, partnership opportunities and sustainable investments to data-driven start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with solutions for digitising patient pathways and advancing remote care in a COVID-19 era.

The Novartis BIOME is a digital innovation hub committed to partnering with the best in the ecosystem to combine its deep scientific experience with the expertise of the tech world to jointly innovate, co-develop and scale digital solutions.

COVID-19 represents a landmark moment in the utilisation of digital technologies across the NHS. The last year has seen a significant acceleration of uptake of data and digital driven solutions, and there remain huge opportunities to implement further innovations to improve patient experiences.

By combining world-leading scientific experience with the expertise of the data-driven health world, HealthHub 21 will develop and scale digital innovations that solve problems faced by the NHS and ultimately improve and extend patients’ lives.

In addition to support and investment from the Novartis BIOME, KQ Labs and LifeArc, participating companies will have the opportunity to establish ongoing relationships with the wider health-tech ecosystem, the NHS and Novartis.

HealthHub 21 is now formally open for submissions from eligible companies. Details on how to apply can be found here on the Novartis BIOME website.

Chinmay Bhatt, Country President of Novartis UK, comments: “We are delighted that the Novartis BIOME is collaborating with KQ Labs, the data-driven health accelerator of the Francis Crick Institute, and LifeArc for this year’s HealthHub programme.

“As a result of our combined expertise, successful health tech companies will receive expert support in scaling-up their organisations. Building on the success of our 2019 and 2020 HealthHubs, companies will be given the unrivalled opportunity to co-develop and deliver innovations that create real solutions for patients and the healthcare system. At Novartis, we are passionate about digital health innovation as we recognise it will allow us to unlock the potential of the UK life sciences sector - enabling us to reimagine medicine for the benefit of patients across the world.”

Barbara Domayne-Hayman, Entrepreneur in Residence and lead for KQ Labs at The Francis Crick Institute, said: “We are excited to be partnering with this year’s Novartis BIOME HealthHub. This Challenge is highly complementary to our core data-driven health accelerator programme, which will run later in the year. Through this opportunity, we will evolve our commitment to accelerating early-stage data-driven health companies to reach their full potential, using our networks and experience. We look forward to seeing innovative applications, underpinned by strong science, and to work with the winning companies, as well as the partners of this significant collaboration.”

Andrew Farquharson, Executive Director of LifeArc, comments: “LifeArc has over 25 years’ experience as a charity partner helping scientists and innovators progress early-stage ideas into tangible health benefits.  With digital and data-led solutions holding so many exciting new possibilities for improving health and healthcare systems, we are delighted to be part of HealthHub 21 and to fund early innovation in this space.”

Konrad Dobschuetz, Head of Digital Innovation and BIOME Lead at Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, said: “It is an exciting collaboration and will help us to further the health tech agenda in the UK. By taking part in the HealthHub 21, start-ups can benefit from the BIOME UK’s enablement network of investors, mentors and innovation leaders across the health sector but also other industries such as finance, FMCG and data.”

- ENDS -

About Novartis  

Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach more than 750 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 105 000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world.

In 2018, Novartis supported a total of 17,458 UK jobs, of which it directly employed 1,268 full time equivalent workers to serve healthcare needs across the whole of the UK, as well as supporting the global operations of Novartis. Since 2014, Novartis has invested over £200 million in R&D and is the single largest industry sponsor of clinical trials in the UK. For more information, please visit

Novartis UK is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @NovartisUK at

About Novartis BIOME

Founded in 2018, the Novartis BIOME is a catalyst for impactful collaboration. The BIOME brings together Novartis’ deep scientific experience with the expertise of the tech ecosystem to develop and scale digital solutions that improve and extend people’s lives. The BIOME allows internal and external teams to co-develop digital solutions alongside specific therapeutic offerings, research activities, and business processes within Novartis. Launched in 2020 striving to test and learn fast, the Novartis BIOME UK is located in the heart of London, focusing on scaling innovative solutions for chronic and long-term disease management.

For more information, please visit Homepage | Novartis Biome

About the Francis Crick Institute and KQ Labs

The Francis Crick Institute is dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Our work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independent organisation, our founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL, Imperial College London and King's College London.

The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 we moved into our brand new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.

KQ Labs is the only accelerator dedicated entirely to data-driven health, with a global focus and providing longer term support, as we aim to catalyse the building of an ecosystem. Run by the Francis Crick Institute and funded by LifeArc, KQ Labs offers a customised framework, providing critical expertise and support to ten carefully selected companies, all solving significant healthcare challenges. The annual five-month programme includes a convertible loan (£40k), workshops with experts tailored to digital health, training in transferable skills, mentoring by a hand-picked network of experts, and introductions to investors and corporates.

The intersection between the biomedical and data sciences promises to play a transformational role in solving some of the most difficult challenges facing global health systems. The KQ Labs accelerator represents a unique opportunity to use the Crick’s convening power to catalyse the creation of a world class sustainable digital health ecosystem. By harnessing the world-class data science and biomedical resources available in the area, we can reinforce the UK's position as a major force in artificial intelligence in health and life sciences and build a world class cluster of successful data-driven health start-ups. Find out more at

Follow KQ Labs on LinkedIn or Twitter

About LifeArc

LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity. Our mission is to advance translation of early science into health care treatments or diagnostics that can be taken through to full development and made available to patients. We have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines.

Our success allows us to explore new approaches to stimulate and fund translation. We have our own drug discovery and diagnostics development facilities, supported by experts in technology transfer and intellectual property who also provide services to other organisations. Our model is built on collaboration, and we partner with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and academic scientists. We are motivated by patient need and scientific opportunity.

Two funds help us to invest in external projects for the benefit of patients: our Philanthropic Fund provides grants to support medical research projects focused on the translation of rare diseases research and our Seed Fund is aimed at start-up companies focused on developing new therapeutics and biological modalities. LifeArc is also a strategic partner of the Crick’s KQ Labs data-driven health accelerator programme. Find out more at

Follow LifeArc on LinkedIn or Twitter