LEO Pharma launches first North American innovation lab in Toronto with $100M CAD in funding

By Editor January 27, 2016

LEO Innovation Lab plans to build innovative technology solutions and collaborate with startups to improve the lives of people living with psoriasis

LEO Pharma, Denmark’s oldest healthcare company, announced today the launch of its first innovation lab in North America. Backed by $100M CDN in funding, LEO Innovation Lab will develop new, non-pharmaceutical solutions for people living with psoriasis and partner with the startup community to foster innovation in apps, web platforms, wearables, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, tele-medicine and other advanced technologies. Located north of Toronto in Markham, LEO Innovation Lab is LEO Pharma’s first innovation venture outside of Europe. Similar innovation labs today operate in Copenhagen, London and Paris.

Psoriasis affects approximately 125 million people worldwide. According to a recent patient survey[1], psoriasis and related conditions ‘impose a severe burden on the daily lives of individuals,’ and quality of life for those suffering from the condition is a major cause for concern.

“We know that psoriasis affects many aspects of daily life beyond ones that can be treated with medication,” said Miron Derchansky, Head of LEO’s Innovation Lab in Toronto. “LEO Pharma has been developing pharmaceutical products since 1908, and now we’re turning to the digital space and the startup community to help us hack new and creative solutions to help people better manage and deal with their condition.”

LEO Innovation Lab will focus on areas such as stress, diet, social relationships and healthcare provider interaction. LEO Canada’s CEO, Xavier Bertin, in partnership with Miron Derchansky will ensure the ideas generated in the Innovation Lab are tested in the Canadian marketplace: “We are very proud to be a key country involved in this global initiative. It fits perfectly with our long term commitment to help people suffering from skin disease to live a better life” says Bertin.

Through its newly announced LEO Ventures initiative, LEO Innovation Lab is also prepared to invest in and give grants to startups to help contribute to finding and developing solutions. The LEO Innovation Lab itself has been established with non profit requirements and is part of a long-term strategic decision by LEO Pharma to put people at the centre, even if there is no immediate financial gain from doing so, explains Gitte Aabo, CEO of LEO Pharma and member of LEO Innovation Lab’s board.

“This does not mean that we perceive helping people as a contradiction to driving a sustainable business. In LEO Pharma, we do not help patients in order to make money; we make money in order to help patients,” says Aabo.

Facts about LEO Innovation Lab
● New innovation lab with 100 million CAD in funding and no profit requirements
● Does not develop pharmaceutical products, but offers a wide range of other solutions to improve life of people living with psoriasis
● The timeframe for projects will be 100 days from ideation to beta test
● Independently operating unit with its own board with key performance metrics focused on making a difference for people living with psoriasis
● Established by LEO Pharma as part of a long-term strategic decision to put people at the centre
● LEO Pharma is owned by the LEO Foundation and profits are reinvested in the company