LEO Pharma, Denmark’s oldest healthcare company, announced that it is opening its first innovation lab in North America dedicated to finding solutions for people with psoriasis.
The Markham-based lab will develop non-pharmaceutical solutions for psoriasis by partnering with the startup community and creating apps, web platforms, wearables, virtual reality platforms, artificial intelligence, and tele-medicine solutions.
Miron Derchansky, head of LEO’s Innovation Lab in Toronto, said that the company is focusing on psoriasis because of its heavy psychological impact on patients.
“People living with psoriasis get flare-ups of red, flaky, itchy rashes, and experience negative reactions from their surroundings such as hairdresser who refuse to cut their hair or shop assistants who won’t accept cash from them,” he said. “Since the innovation lab does not create pharmaceutical products, we focus on areas of peoples’ lives that can impact their wellbeing and their psoriasis such as stress, diet, nutrition, family, sleep, fitness, beauty and relationship with their doctor.”
Derchansky also noted, however, that the innovation lab isn’t necessarily looking for startups working specifically on psoriasis solutions, as solutions like virtual reality experiences and predictive image processing software can be customized to fit a psoriasis patient’s needs. The lab won’t take a traditional incubator model by housing startups, but will provide them with more opportunity to test and launch solutions on a larger scale, as well as exposure and channels into international markets.
LEO Innovation Lab is LEO Pharma’s first innovation venture outside of Europe; similar innovation labs already exist in Copenhagen, London and Paris — though LEO Pharma already has a corporate office in Toronto, where the innovation lab will be based.
“Canada’s strong entrepreneurial spirit, vibrant community of startups, leading-edge technologies and strong scientific research foundation were key factors in the decision,” Derchansky said. “Our country’s unique spread-out geographic footprint is also interesting, making it a prime candidate for solutions like tele-dermatology and remote health/monitoring.”