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COPD Crowdshaped - Thinking differently; Changing lives


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“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”, said Albert Einstein. If Novartis were to help create genuine new solutions they needed fresh thinking; by asking their usual contacts they were going to get the same answers.

Companies outside of the pharmaceutical industry are routinely using crowdsourcing to break out of the conventional norm. From this principle COPD Crowdshaped was born and a movement started. 2 days, 50 visionaries. 1 cause.

Crowdshaped was the pharmaceutical industry’s first open-innovation event to involve non-healthcare professionals in a live attempt to solve a health-related problem. The intention was to bring together some of the world’s most progressive thinkers from a diverse range of industries outside of healthcare to ideate and collaborate on new solutions for patients.


In June 2015, the remarkable occurred. 50 visionary business leaders, technologists, actors, TED-speakers, journalists, engineers and data scientists from companies / institutions as diverse as Boeing, Google, 23&Me, Qualcomm Life and MIT, came together at a tech accelerator campus in San Francisco with one thing in common - a commitment to improving lives. As befits open innovation, there were no pre-defined outputs and all IP was owned by the ‘crowd’ not Novartis.

Over the two-day crowdshaping event, chaired by Yossi Vardi, serial tech-entrepreneur, the crowd created, sorted, aggregated and synthesized over one hundred themes into seven core ideas. With the support of the COPD Foundation ideas were tested overnight with the global COPD community so patients could vote for the solutions which would most impact their life – a true first.


So what did COPD Crowdshaped achieve?

• Within 12 weeks there were two working prototypes based on Crowdshaped ideation, including COPD360Coach, a new online peer-coaching tool, that’s been deployed at two major US hospitals

• In September 2015, Novartis and the COPD Foundation held the world’s first three university simultaneous hackathon with over 400 participants from MIT, Imperial College London and Technion University, generating over 30 solutions to help people breathe better

• A further five ideas are in development. Funding is being sought to bring them to market, with interest from companies including IBM, Philips, Resmed and Sensirion.

The 210 million people living with COPD need more than the status quo. COPD Crowdshaped has brought brilliant minds together and kickstarted the search for innovative and exciting opportunities to create meaningful change for patients.

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