A leader in innovation with more than 200 international projects, Pfizer’s Center for Digital Innovation (CDI) leverages data science and cutting-edge digital technologies to improve patient experience and patient outcomes. health.
Based in Thessaloniki, the Center has a global reach and is an integral part of Pfizer’s digital and technology infrastructure, leveraging cutting-edge science and technology to develop life-changing innovations for patients, as Nico explains. Gariboldi, head of the CDI:
When the Digital Innovation Center (CDI) from Pfizer began operations in Thessaloniki, everyone’s expectations were very high – perhaps also due to the timing of the pandemic. Today, after almost three years of operation, how would you rate this route?
When in 2020 we said that the CDI was coming to change the facts in the field of digital innovation in Greece, there were expectations but certainly, on the part of some, there were also reservations. The pandemic was like an “unwritten map”, where no one could say for sure where it was leading. Three years later, however, I believe the result of our work not only lives up to expectations, but confirms that CDI has also changed the facts for the local economy – beyond innovation!
We started with a goal of hiring 200 people and are currently aiming for 500. We are creating employment opportunities with many quality jobs. According to research by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), during the period 2020-2030, the operation of the CDI will support a total of 8,100 annual jobs across the spectrum of the Greek economy. The Centre’s direct contribution to employment for the same period is estimated by research at 3,600 annual jobs. This means that each position in the CDI supports 2.3 positions in the entire Greek labor market. Equally important is the contribution of the CDI to the country’s GDP for the specific period, which will amount to 486 million euros. According to IOBE research, it appears that each euro of added value from the operation of the CDI has a double contribution (two euros) to Greece’s GDP.
At the same time, we contribute to the development of an ecosystem of collaborations with high scientific potential, by investing in the human resources and talents of Thessaloniki and Greece as a whole.
And of course, we are very proud that our efforts and our innovation work are recognized at the highest level: Recently, CDI was awarded the “Digital Innovation Company” distinction by the main international pharmaceutical awards Prix Galien.
All this gives us a strong motivation to continue on the same path.
What exactly is his job? CDI
in this sense of innovative discoveries “that change patients’ lives”?
Pfizer Digital’s main strategic priorities are threefold:
Better patient health outcomes
Faster patient access to medications
Contribute to the development of the pioneering treatments of tomorrow
All three are directly related to the digital transformation of the company. CDI is the key to digital transformation and achieving these priorities. It is a global hub driving innovation with over 200 international projects, where we use data science and the latest digital technologies to improve patient experience and outcomes. With its global reach, CDI is an integral part of Pfizer’s digital organization, which leverages science and cutting-edge technologies to develop life-changing innovations for patients!
Did the choice of Thessaloniki justify you?
We were pretty sure of our choice from the start. There were of course moments of surprises, but these were quite pleasant. For example, when in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic “broke” many activities around the world, we were very pleasantly surprised at how quickly Greece “ran” on the path to digital transformation, attracting significant investments in the fields of research and innovation.
In addition to its impressive history and its strategic geographical location, which allows us to maximize our global collaboration and productivity, Thessaloniki is a “reservoir” of talented people. Here there is a concentration of IT talent, while the city plays an important role as the educational center of Greece and the Balkans with major universities and notable research centers. Combined with the strong economic prospects of the country and the national digital strategy for innovation, as well as the new emerging environment of start-ups, the possibility of cooperation with technological hubs and the high academic level of the population, this was for us an excellent choice.
You often speak of this “innovation ecosystem”. Concretely, how do we go about it and what are the benefits on both sides?
We work on two pillars: research innovation, in collaboration with universities and research centers, and open calls for start-ups, through which we create strong relationships with the ecosystem, offering beyond monetary prizes and cooperation opportunities to companies that stand out.
Greece has a vibrant research and innovation ecosystem working on these two pillars, and CDI’s goal is to make the most of it, through mutually beneficial collaborations.
In the first pillar, we have already announced collaborations with the National Center for Research and Technological Development, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the University of Patras and the University of Ioannina. Through these partnerships, we contribute to the emergence of talent and ideas on research and innovation, while bridging the gap between research and the market, investing in human capital and supporting universities in their providing resources and exchanging know-how.
In the second pillar, we are delighted to work with dynamic start-up teams, who have an entrepreneurial spirit and an innovative mindset and with whom we can share new ideas. Initiatives like “Start4Health,” a program focused on the digital health field, have become institutions and are embraced by the ecosystem precisely because the benefits are multiple for all parties.
The second cycle of this year’s “Start4Health” program has recently begun. What do you expect from him?
As always, we expect talented individuals and startups participating in the program to share innovative ideas with us and, with our help and support, transform them into technological solutions, with the prospect of multiplying health benefits and so improve the lives of patients. .
Start4Health is an acceleration program. This year, we are looking for solutions that fall under one or more of the following four thematic pillars:
eHealth: solutions that improve the lives of patients through technology, ranging from digital biomarkers, diagnosis and treatment, biomedical devices and health education, to clinical decision support systems.
Bioinformatics: Computational techniques, algorithms, and platforms that process, analyze, and interpret biological data and effectively contribute to faster new discoveries in the life sciences.
Business Intelligence: solutions including data analysis, reporting and decision making, optimization of operations and strategy.
Green innovation: sustainability-focused initiatives within the pharmaceutical industry value chain, from production to delivery, e.g. transportation, smart buildings and waste management.
As you mentioned, the second round of the program has begun and interested parties can submit applications through May 26 at https://centerfordigitalinnovation.pfizer.com/start4health.
This is a prime opportunity for great talent and dynamic teams to meet and collaborate, spotlighting innovative proposals and solutions that could revolutionize the healthcare industry, which is the CDI’s unwavering purpose and mission. But also for us, it is a prime opportunity to find potential partners in our project.
Have you had the opportunity to work with startups through such programs?
The prospect of a future partnership with Pfizer is a strong incentive for startups to participate in these programs, and it is something that is happening in practice. The best example is our recent collaboration with e-Nios (e-Noesis Inspired Operational Systems), winner of last year’s Start4Health program. This is an ambitious collaboration, which aims to meet the major challenge of personalizing treatments for a wide range of diseases.
Bioinformatics is the “key” to our work, as it enables more efficient and faster discoveries in the field of life sciences, thanks to computational techniques, algorithms and platforms that process, analyze and interpret biological data. . And we’re really looking forward to working in these areas with more startups, as Start4Health and other similar programs bring us closer to the research and innovation ecosystem.