This publication is addressed to players of the digital health ecosystem in Switzerland. It provides clear and actionable recommendations to facilitate the transition between the end of design phase and the deployment phase, tackling crucial aspects of the challenge. The recommendations were collected during an insightful event for digital health organisations in Western Switzerland co-organised by digitalswitzerland and Biopôle on 30 April, featuring Tigen Pharma’s achievements in the space and an interactive expert panel discussion.

Digital Health landscape in Switzerland

Digitalisation opens up a whole new source of knowledge for stakeholders to collect, store and share data between different healthcare stakeholders. Digital health solutions have been growing massively in Switzerland in the last years, expanding in various areas such as telemedicine, wearables, patient records, healthy ageing, mental health, femtech, value-based healthcare and personalised medicine. Western Switzerland has a strong footprint in the digital health innovation space with the presence of universities and university hospitals, innovation hubs, and a large biotech ecosystem2. Digital health startups and scaleups face many hurdles when transitioning between the end of design and the deployment of the digital health solutions. 90%3 of startups do not make it through their first year, and 50% survive through the first five years.

From left to right: Jade Sternberg, Sébastien Fabbri, Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, Anna Gräbner

Experts’ recommendations to successfully transition from design to deployment

Collaboration & partnerships
  • Collaborate with lawyers can help you anticipate possible issues. They create a platform of communication where the different parties who speak different languages are brought together to work on standard agreements and solutions between larger companies and startups
  • Work with the ecosystem by creating partnerships and collaboration (onboard the patients and HCPs)
  • Get IT service companies to help you connect to hyperscalers such as Amazon or Microsoft and facilitate the partnership to ensure the best conditions

“We do not only collaborate with startups. We learn! We need to get this knowledge, it’s a real collaboration. We bring our skills and gain learnings from them – it’s important!”Sébastien Fabbri
  • Find the right location for your development phase, moving from incubator to innovative platforms such as Genolier Innovation Hub, a medical and scientific platform which offers startups the opportunity to work on clinical applications
  • Bring all the actors together under one roof is important to ensure implementation of a medical innovation platform effectively and sustainability (having direct exchange – link to the patients and doctors)
  • Create and maintain the link between the patient and the industry and back to the patient – benefit from the existing platforms such as upcoming hubs

“This is precisely the role of the Genolier Innovation hub, to bring the healthcare stakeholders together under one roof (patients and doctors) and reduce the latency time.” – Anna Gräbner
  • Remain curious: anticipate the problem
  • Invest in three key elements to build a strong team and strong business:
    • Ongoing professional development: it is crucial to provide teams with opportunities for personal growth. This will ensure the company remains innovative and competitive
    • Corporate culture: cultivate environment that values transparency, adaptability and collaboration
    • Diversity and inclusion: they need to be integrated into every layer of the organisation
  • Hire a team member who can write a business plan; never let the investors write it for you

“Diversifying our team enriches our thinking, improves our decision making and strengthens our position in the market.” – Anna Gräbner
User centricity
  • Have a user-centric approach as a differentiating factor. Startup often fail because their solutions do not respond to the need for the final users (healthcare professionals and patients)
  • Optimise innovation to truly meet the needs of the medical staff and therefore reduce the average time from bench to bedside
  • Apply for Innosuisse fundings to positively support your innovation. They give you more freedom and focus on the usability of your solution instead of trying to protect it
  • Create a sustainable value for your customers, understand their needs and offer a solution that anticipate them

Technology & Interconnectivity
  • Focus on cybersecurity, hosting and infrastructure topics at an early stage to ensure to take the best decisions from the start
  • Build a strong concept with a well-founded architecture (high level of privacy, security, interoperability) and an appealing user interface
  • Ensure that your architecture is scalable and allows you to grow fast and expand (In terms of users, geographics etc.)
  • Take the time to decide on your hosting approach for the whole life cycle of your solution: on-premises4, private cloud5, public cloud6, multi-cloud7
  • Ensure interoperability with existing systems by making your product customisable
  • Adopt industry standards (HL7, FHIR etc.) from the start, it is the first step to be interoperable. Plan to have an application programming interface (APIs) to enable your data to be interoperable to other platforms
  • Prioritise cybersecurity to ensure that your data transfers are secure.
  • Get familiar early on to the Swiss electronic patient record (EPR) and ensure you are interoperable to it

“To differentiate, you need to have a strong concept. To be memorable you must be able to scale. You need a well-founded architecture with high privacy, security, interoperability aspects but also a user centric interface.” Sébastien Fabbri
Data & Knowledge 
  • Use non-personalised data as your key data source as the data protection legislations worldwide are strict and limit the access to and use of personalised data and the added value of personalised data is small
  • Make sure you have a technique to clean up and transform personalised data from the patients to non-personalised data. This is key to make your data interoperable for the industry and bring them value
  • Minimise the storage of data in your applications. Only store what is necessary – onboard minimal personal data
  • Communicate transparently about how you will use the data to ensure the quality of collected data is high

  • Show and convince larger companies who are interested in collaboration, that you can operate together with them – this is an added-value

Compliance & Regulations
  • Make sure to be compliant by following specific certifications (e.g. CE mark) if your solution is a medical device
  • Never disclose your know-how and your solutions (data process, platform design and set-up, etc.) in a publication or to third parties. Only showcase how your solution, technology or therapy works
  • Protect your know-how by confidentiality agreements and your data with copyright disclaimers. Patent protection for inventions in medical fields is not always the right or only solution nowadays especially with regard to medical devices that may not reach the incentive threshold required for a patient filing
  • Be attentive to AI generated data and how you deal with them (question of liability for data you did not generate and cannot control) 

“Please never disclose your know-how and your inventions in public publications because it will then fall into the public domain, and anyone can then use it.” – Lorenza Ferrari Hofer
  • Be transparent about what data you use and obtain a broad consent from the patients. It will build user’s trust towards your solution and guarantee quality of the data to healthcare professionals who will be able to reuse the data

  • With investors, it’s all about the communication. Illustrate clearly to them how your solution will bring them back a return on investment. Keep it simple and “low profile”; try to speak their language. Prepare in advance what you are willing to give up as information on your solutions to obtain the financing you need

Tigen Pharma’s insights to scale 

  • Benefits from the strong Western Switzerland ecosystem:
    • Governmental agencies such as Innosuisse and Innovaud
    • Infrastructure with Biopôle and SuperLab
    • Academic institutions like EPF, CHUV, SDSC
    • Industries such as ELCA and Microsoft
  • Build strong collaborations with institutions to work in a more digital agile environment
  • Validate and test your ideas with partners and customers
  • Focus on the research and development phase for proper implementation, do not jump directly to building the technology
  • Do not underestimate the required investment to collect data from different legal entities and clinical programmes
  • Data security8 and data sovereignty9 are two different concepts. They do not address the same challenges
  • Have a clear regulation framework to apply AI if it impacts your solution’s process – have open discussions with authorities and regulatory agencies
  • Work with a modular solution as a digital foundation, which can easily adapt to different hospital environments (each country or region has its own data regulations, requirements for technical infrastructure, set-ups etc.) 

“You should not be in love with your first idea.” – Antoine Maison

About the experts

  • Antoine Maison is the Head of Digital Innovation at Tigen Pharma, a biotech company in the field of cell & gene therapies based in Lausanne. With over 10 years of experience in the field of data, Antoine Maison has been driving digital transformation and innovation projects in the pharmaceutical industry. With a data science education and background Antoine Maison is leveraging data-driven strategies to optimise business processes and accelerate research and development. In 2023, Tigen Pharma received a Digital Economy Award in the category Swiss Digital Innovation of the year together with ELCA and Microsoft1.
  • Anna Gräbner is the CEO of the Genolier Innovation Hub. Anna is a visionary leader dedicated to transforming healthcare. She is also the co-founder of Eyecap, a startup developing a smart swimming cap equipped with intelligent sensors to help visually impaired swimmers.
  • Lorenza Ferrari Hofer is a Partner of the Intellectual Property and Life Sciences Practices at the law firm Schellenberg Wittmer. She specialises in intellectual property, unfair competition, data law and contract law. With her wealth of experience, she is recognised as a specialist in various rankings such as Chambers, The Legal 500 or Who’s Who Legal.
  • Sébastien Fabbri is a Client Partner at ELCA, responsible for advising and supporting managed accounts active in digital health and life sciences. He has more than 20 years of experience in this sector in Switzerland. Sébastien Fabbri holds a degree in applied mathematics and computer science engineering.

About Biopôle Lausanne

Founded in 2004 by the canton of Vaud public authorities, Biopôle SA is a private, not-for-profit organisation, which owns, manages and promotes the life sciences campus. We believe that interpersonal and inter-company relationships are the key to successful innovation. That’s why we focus on creating an environment in which you and your teams can prosper by collaborating with the Biopôle community and beyond. Biopôle is particularly active in supporting digital health. With dedicated offices and IT infrastructure (Digital Health Hub), innovation programmes (Biopôle/SHS Digital Health Vanguard Accelerator), and dedicated funding (Biopôle Fund – Digital Health track), Biopôle counts among its member more than 30 companies using digital health technologies to deploy their solution.

About digitalswitzerland

digitalswitzerland is a Swiss-wide, cross-industry initiative that aims to transform Switzerland into a leading digital nation. Along with our network of 170+ association members and non-political partners, including more than 1,000 top executives, we’re engaged in over 25 projects to inspire, initiate, co-create and lead digital change in Switzerland. Digital Health is a focus program of digitalswitzerland which aims to digitalise the entire healthcare system in Switzerland and make it patient-centric. We drive various activities in collaboration with the different healthcare stakeholders in the sector on topics like the electronic patient record, digital health literacy and more. digitalswitzerland also enables digital health scaleups to be positioned as thought leaders in the ecosystem through the Digital Health Academy, a 6-month cohort-based programme for scaleups which enable patients to better understand and monitor their data.

From left to right (Jade Sternberg, Sebastien Fabbri, Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, Anna Gräbner)
From left to right: Jade Sternberg, Sébastien Fabbri, Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, Anna Gräbner


1) ELCA supports Tigen to accelerate cell-based cancer therapies, 2023
(digitalswitzerland, 2023)
2) The Swiss healthcare system: entering a new digital era A visualisation of the pioneering solutions that inspire a digital health ecosystem
3) Power-Launch of the Swiss Startup Association
4) private data centres that companies house in their own facilities and maintain themselves
5) cloud computing environment dedicated to a single organisation
6) cloud computing model where IT infrastructure like servers, networking, and storage resources are
offered as virtual resources accessible over the internet
7) use of cloud services from more than one cloud vendor
8) Data security is the process of protecting digital information from unauthorised access, corruption or theft throughout its entire lifecycle.
9) Data sovereignty refers to a group or individual’s right to control and maintain their own data, which includes the collection, storage, and interpretation of data.