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Launch of the DCTx Innovation Incubator - Partnering in innovations that positively benefit patients, society and the world

Posted by
Thyago Ohana, Digital Care Transformation Immunology

The Digital Care Transformation (DCTx) team at UCB is delighted to officially announce the launch of the DCTx Incubator. Over the last few months, we have been engaging with the global healthcare ecosystem, seeking out the best innovations from entrepreneurs and startup businesses that could have a major impact on some of the biggest challenges UCB are trying to solve.

Why is the UCB Digital Care Transformation Incubator different?
Almost every large company has some kind of accelerator or incubator. Our team looked long and hard at those that are successful - and some that have not been so successful too - and we have created a model that we feel is unique in our space, and the great news is that startups seem to love it!

Our program doesn’t seek to take equity or takeover the Intellectual Property of startups, as we don’t want to stifle their potential or the creativity of founders. We are much more concerned with creating a win-win that benefits the startup and UCB together, as well as driving real value for both patients and the planet.

With that in mind, we have also understood that a win-win is different for every startup and our incubation program should be tailored to their individual needs. Thus, once an initial problem-solution match is found, startups go into a pre-incubation phase so we can co-create an incubation roadmap that caters specifically to them. In this time, startups already receive support from business and industry mentors and expert advisors. In getting to know each other better, we increase the long-term synergy potential. 

Moreover, our program is looking to solve valuable friction points for patients that have been clearly identified. Driven by this purpose of creating patient value, we are seeking to partner with startups to which we know we can add value in solving for these specific friction points.

Just a few examples of what we are looking for include innovative technologies that can help: 

  • improve the early diagnosis of PsA/Ax-Spa patients
  • personalize treatment of PsO patients to slow down the progression of the disease
  • prevent seizures in epilepsy patients.

Our program is designed to be “always-on” and super flexible; startups can join the program  when it is right for them, and it doesn’t matter if they are very early-stage or already have significant funding: we have a team that will work with them to achieve their specific goals, whether that is finding initial or further investment, developing or proving their technology, finding new customers or scaling into new markets.

At the same time, we will be solving UCB’s biggest challenges and increasing our knowledge of and access to innovative new solutions to help drive our business forward into an exciting new future.

So how does the program work?

We have officially launched our program on Valentine’s Day as a symbolic move to say: “With our incubator, we want to celebrate partnerships” – after all, no one can solve for the challenges in healthcare all alone!

We invite startups to apply to the program on our website ucb-digitalcaretransformation.com.
Following active scouting and collecting the application submitted via the website, the program starts with ventures being selected to participate in a series of “matchmaking” sessions, which are specific to the relevant area of interest (patients friction points). Those that take part will have been pre-validated by our specialist teams as having solutions with high impact potential.

The very best in each category are then chosen to take part in a 12-week long co-creation and validation process to prove their potential and align on the value of a possible partnership. This will be different for each startup of course and may involve figuring out how the new technology adds value, as well as understanding more clearly the steps involved in adopting or scaling the new technology alongside UCB.

Each Startup will be supported through this validation process by our incubation partner The Bakery , as well as having a UCB “Champion” with relevant expertise supporting their cause, and also sessions with a number of specialist mentors from around the UCB team. Additional to the valuable mentorship and guidance, each startup will receive a small amount of money to help towards their time and participation expenses.

At the end of this initial 12-week validation phase, each startup will present their findings and proposal for moving forward with UCB into a more structured partnership over the next 6 months to achieve a clearly defined set of outcomes, which could include support in creating a commercial or clinical trial, marketing and sales growth, help to secure investment or some other kind of support that will add real value for both parties. 

What’s it like for a startup to work with UCB?

In the words of Bingli’s co-founder, Tom Van De Putte, this is how they describe their startup engagement with us:

“As a founding team we had lots of experience working with doctors, but going out to hospitals can be tough, especially with a disease agnostic platform like ours.
UCB was one of the first big Pharma companies we had really spoken to. It was wonderfully reassuring to get positive feedback from experts who really knew how to help us to clearly identify both the value and potential of our technology.  
Having a world-renowned brand in our corner creates a positive aura when we talk to both clients and investors; people understand that UCB will have done a certain about of due diligence on us and this brings great credibility. 
Working together and co-creating with UCB has allowed us to develop a concrete focus and a far higher scientific knowledge of the diseases we address, which reflects really well on us as company.”


Bingli  is the smartest medical interview on the planet bringing better healthcare at lower cost with more accurate results for patients and doctors. BINGLI's chatbot intelligently interviews the patient prior to the consultation so that symptoms are accurately communicated to the doctor. This leads to  better quality and more time-efficient consultation and, as a result, better healthcare for patients in general. 





 Tom Van De Putte,


Where to find out more?

Check out the website ucb-digitalcaretransformation.com to find out more about the challenges or to apply, and also to keep updated on the latest amazing new startups that are participating in the program. Or please drop an email to contact@ucb-dctx.com - we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Meet some of the leading voices of the DCTx Incubator

Colin Lake serves as the Head of Digital Care Transformation Neurology at UCB. Colin spearheads UCB’s efforts to improve the support for patients and key stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem by driving UCB’s ambitious digital agenda for Neurology. Colin has extensive experience designing and delivering digital services across a variety of industries, including over 10 years across the full spectrum of pharmaceutical processes.


Erik Janssen is the Head of DCTx Immunology at UCB. Erik is a healthcare executive with a passion for digital health, corporate innovation, making a difference by creating partnerships and most importantly by transforming how care is delivered to patients with chronic diseases in rheumatology and dermatology. Erik is also a managing director of the Bluehealth Innovation Fund and a mentor to several digital health and medtech companies.

Connect with Erik on LinkedIn


Marie-Noel is the DCTx incubator project lead at UCB. Marie-Noel is the one in charge of the set-up and operationalization of the incubation program as well as supporting the daily needs of the selected startups to achieve their goals. Marie-Noel is a former digital health entrepreneur with experience as a consumer of incubation and acceleration programs. She is passionate about solving challenges in healthcare and shaping the future of health.

Connect with Marie-Noel on LinkedIn


Thyago Ohana is the strategy lead for Digital Care Transformation at UCB and the head of the DCTx Incubator. Thyago is passionate about people, technology and the future – and how these things connect. He likes to call himself a “Digital go-to guy and story-teller leading positive change in healthcare one smile at a time.

Connect with Thyago on LinkedIn


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