Nordic digital therapeutics innovator SidekickHealth has partnered with global pharmaceutical company Pfizer to develop a digital therapeutic (DTx) smoking cessation solution.

Sidekick specializes in the creation of gamified DTx solutions and programs, transforming chronic and lifestyle disease management across multiple therapeutic areas in alliance with key players in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare industries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever seen, killing more than eight million people a year globally, and the economic costs are substantial – including significant healthcare costs for treating illnesses directly linked to smoking.

“Lifestyle-related diseases cause the majority of global healthcare costs and deaths. Research shows that 10-20% of health results can be attributed to medical care alone, while up to 50% is linked to behavioral factors such as smoking, diet, physical activity, sleep, and remembering to take medication as prescribed,” Sidekick Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tryggvi Thorgeirsson said.

“As a doctor I have witnessed the harm of smoking and how extremely difficult it can be to quit. We are grateful for the opportunity to expand our partnership with Pfizer into smoking cessation. Our platform is proven to encourage and enforce positive behavior and improved health outcomes. A combined approach with Pfizer will help a lot more people to quit smoking and stick to it,” he added.

With the support of Pfizer Austria, Sidekick is able to expand its platform and implement a new smoking cessation module. “We are happy to provide people, who want to stop smoking with professional help, with a new innovative tool that has a proven track record of helping people make difficult lifestyle changes,” Sylvia Nanz, Medical Director Pfizer Austria, said.

Sidekick’s clinically validated digital platform has a demonstrated history in helping people modify their behavior, increase medical adherence and better manage chronic illnesses and symptoms.

It has been rated in the top 0.1% in quality by the industry’s leading rating company Orcha, has over 30,000 users and clinical validation and successful customer launches across multiple therapeutic areas – ranging from type 2 diabetes to ulcerative colitis.

The company was recently selected out of over 850 applicants into Silicon Valley’s Plug & Play Health business accelerator and more recently it was named among the top 25 deep tech scale-ups in Europe by leading digital innovation organization EIT Digital.

Niklas Adalberth’s Norrsken Foundation is a Sweden-based organization focused on social technology entrepreneurship. The group seeks to invest in “impact companies” — those looking to creatively solve challenges for greater good in the world.

Making an impact

The Norrsken Foundation recently announced the launch of a major initiative to highlight companies they believe are making an impact. They revealed a list of startups nominated for the Norrsken Awards, and this fall the winners will be crowned during their new event, called Impact Week.

We’re not going to reveal the full list here, because, well, that wouldn’t be very socially good of us. The Norrsken folks deserve a visit, so head on over to their site for more details on #theimpact100.

Drums, please

What we will share is the special shoutout that Norrsken made for us (and the others on the list): a signature drum solo. So set your volume higher than mute but lower than max, pop in your headphones or AirPods, and enjoy the impact of these drumsticks:

At Impact Week in late September, three nominees will be honored. The prize consists of six months of mentoring services from McKinsey & Co., Brunswick Group and Mannheimer Swartling.

Before Impact Week, you’ll have a chance to nominate startups that the Norrsken Foundation may have missed. If you know any other teams doing good by doing well, suggest them for the list!

In a four-stage process culminating in a selection board event in Vienna on March 15, SidekickHealth was one of 10 companies from nine countries selected to the Health Hub Vienna (HHV) accelerator program.

SidekickHealth co-founder and chief medical officer Dr. Saemundur “Sam” Oddsson was also honored with the award for best pitch among the companies invited to participate.

Transforming health care through innovation

The goal of HHV is to transform the health care system through innovation and entrepreneurship. Launched by INiTS and the UNIQA Foundation, HHV brings together pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, private and public insurance companies, healthcare suppliers and startups to develop new, holistic health solutions. INiTS is Vienna‘s high-tech incubator, which has supported several successful founding teams in the field of life sciences, such as mySugr.

The HHV program runs from March through June 2019 and is designed to help companies gain market access, build business networks and distribution channels, and scale their organizations for continued growth. HHV partners collaborating in the three-month program include UNIQA, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and other private sector and academic organizations.

A jury of business and science luminaries

The selection board for the event was comprised of leaders such as UNIQA Foundation CEO Peter Eichler, Michaela Fritz (MedUni Vienna), Alexandra Kautzky-Willer (MedUni Vienna), investors such as Hansi Hansmann and Johannes Strohmayer, and founders Sophie Chung (Qunomedical, Berlin) and Eszter Nagy (EveliQure Biotechnologies, Vienna).

New technologies to tackle pressing health needs

SidekickHealth is honored to be recognized among the best of the new class of innovations improving the health of populations across Europe and beyond. Our hats are off to our fellow members in the HHV program:

  • Datlowe: Automated, AI-based technology for the early detection and prevention of hospital infections
  • Doc+: One-stop software solution for patients to optimize diagnoses, medical assignments and disease treatment
  • Cloud-based and cross-system health database for physician-patient communication
  • Doctorly: Cloud-operated management platform to increase the efficiency of medical practices
  • Infermedica: Self-learning chatbot for the initial diagnosis and assignment of patients
  • Knok healthcare: Self-diagnosis and telemedicine app
  • MedicSpot: Examination and diagnostic stations for low-threshold tele/online treatment
  • MindMate: Machine-learning and gamification-based patient recruitment for clinical trials
  • Scarletred: Mobile skin imaging app for measuring and diagnosing skin lesions

Vertical is excited about supporting brilliant ideas and brilliant people who make a change in the world. There is nothing better than uplifting companies who are transforming society with the help of innovation and technology. That is why we have started showcasing founders from startups we’ve worked with. Meet our featured hero.


Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, M.D., MPH

Company name:






Product/service description in one sentence:

We help employers and other organizations improve health and wellness at scale.

Why you do what you do? How did the idea of making this solution come to you?

We do what we do to help more people live better and longer. Being a physician is a rewarding experience – particularly caring for and talking with patients. But over the course of thousands of patient conversations, my co-founder and I realized we were putting out fires we’d have liked to prevent. One patient stands out very clearly to me. She had high blood pressure and was already taking two antihypertensive medications. As we sat there discussing treatment options, it was obvious that prescribing another drug wasn’t the best solution. There had to be a better way.

How is SidekickHealth different from the competition, what makes you special?

Traditional health care approaches – even many digital ones – often fall short because they target the rational side of our brains. But behavioral research tells us that’s not how most people make lifestyle choices. SidekickHealth combines concepts from behavioral economics with gaming, technology and personal coaching to find the right motivational triggers and guide people along a healthier path.

How was your time in Vertical? What was the most valuable? What did you enjoy the most?

Excellent. We’ve had amazing opportunities to connect with world-leading companies like Pfizer and Samsung, gain new insights from them, share ideas on some of the world’s toughest challenges and explore collaborative ways to solve them.

What are you up to? What’s next for SidekickHealth?

Our client community of employers and care providers continues to grow, so we’re busy scaling our team and technology to ensure their employees and patients have a great health experience and outcomes. We’re also developing new content to help people prevent and manage different chronic conditions.

What piece of advice/wisdom would you share with these who want to make impact in the world, real the changemakers of tomorrow?

Do well by doing good.

This interview originally appeared on the Vertical Blog.