Startup Village participants met at the Skoltech pavilion for a panel discussion on innovation in healthcare, resources and opportunities for rapid response to the pandemic challenges, and shared priorities of Skoltech and the Moscow authorities in medicine and healthcare.
Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov noted that, at inception, Skoltech was not expected to deal with healthcare and medical technologies. “Over time, healthcare has evolved into a top priority topic in terms of its importance and number of people involved, rather that revenue or publication rates,” Kuleshov said.
“Interestingly, healthcare research has made its way into all Skoltech centers and now involves physicists and experts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, bioinformatics, and other disciplines. We do not have professional doctors on our team, but it so happened that nearly half of our researchers are involved in healthcare in one way or another,” Kuleshov added.
According to Skoltech President, the most significant results were obtained at the intersection of AI and a variety of other topics. “Machine learning has already penetrated all areas of our activity. As we started on ML a few years ago, we did not expect this to happen but now ML seems to be everywhere. An effective tool for medicine, ML helps find correlations in data that are unseen by people,” Kuleshov said, adding that ML largely outperforms the best doctors when it comes to diagnosis.
“For the Moscow Government, Skoltech is the discovery of the year. Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin and Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov have ambitious plans for a major breakthrough by integrating Skoltech’s achievements at the crossroads of technology, bioinformatics, biotechnology, and big data with the best medical practices of Moscow’s medical institutions,” CEO of NPO Moscow Center of Innovation Technologies in Healthcare Vyacheslav Shulenin said.
He added that he pinned high hopes on Skoltech’s photonics cluster and proteomic research that could be used by healthcare institutions. “We are lucky to have many doctors who also do research agree to join our Center. I also think that expert evaluation from medical institutions, helping startups find applications in Moscow healthcare, is very important, and I see a lot of value in this from our center,” Shulenin said.
Professor Dmitry Kulish of the Skoltech Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) spoke about seminal cases where innovation resources were directed at combatting the pandemic. One of the examples was Pharmadiol’s anticoagulant that is nearing the end of clinical tests that should confirm its effectiveness against COVID-19 aftereffects.
Karina Barsegova, Head of Clinical Research at the Pirogov First City Hospital underscored the importance of user experiences of medical doctors and staff in developing innovative products. “I really wish people who invent something to consult one another and look at the product through other people’s eyes,” Barsegova said. She praised the startups for their rapid response to the pandemic, mentioning in particular a community of makers who were very quick to set up the production of protective shields for medical personnel.
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