A German science and research trade delegation visited earlier this month with GoodRx Holdings Inc. and Quantgene Inc., health tech companies based in Santa Monica.
GoodRx was founded in 2011 as a comparison price website for prescription drugs with more than 70,000 participating pharmacies across the nation. The company in recent years has expanded its consumer-oriented business lines to include telehealth services, providing discounts for prescription drugs directly from pharma manufacturers.
Quantgene, founded in 2015, has developed technology that analyzes blood samples to detect various cancers, a technique that is less invasive than conventional biopsies. The technology platform uses artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze cancer and detection trends among large population samples.
The trade delegation was from the German state Baden-Württemberg, located in the southwest corner of the country; its capital city is Stuttgart. The state is an economic powerhouse, with an estimated GDP of about $500 billion; it is home to several well-known corporate headquarters, including car-makers Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, tech and consumer products company Robert Bosch (better known as Bosch) and lens maker Carl Zeiss (better known as just Zeiss).
Locally, the trade delegation’s visit on Oct. 5 was coordinated by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce through its international business networking program. The delegation was led by Winfried Kretschmann, minister-president of Baden-Württemberg, and Petra Olschowski, minister of science, research and the arts.
At GoodRx, the trade delegation met with company executives to discuss challenges that individual citizens and hospitals face in both countries in managing the prescription drug marketplace.
“It was interesting to listen as people shared their experiences and the unique challenges each market has to navigate,” said Andrew Barrett-Weiss, the company’s director of workplace experience.
“GoodRx developed from our founders’ interest in making healthcare access and affordability easier for all Americans, so I enjoyed hearing more about the important role the German government plays in leveling the playing field for citizens of their country,” Weiss continued. “I think this will be the beginning of a long, mutually-beneficial relationship and we’re so grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for inviting us to participate in this exciting exchange.”
Currently, GoodRx has no operations in Germany and Weiss did not indicate that the company had any plans to expand its participating pharmacy network to that country.
Quantgene, on the other hand, has a second headquarters operation and lab in Berlin, Germany. Also, Quantgene’s chief executive, Johannes (“Jo”) Bhakdi, is from Germany and obtained a Master’s degree in economics and psychology from Tübingen University, which is in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
The delegation’s visit to Quantgene focused on the company’s technology and potential research and development collaboration with Tübingen University and other educational institutions in Baden-Württemberg.
“Home to 19 Nobel laureates, the university clinics of Freiburg, Tübingen and Ulm are world-leading ecosystems of medical innovation that service millions of patients,” Bhakdi said. “Quantgene’s Apollo system could be a perfect match for these pioneering institutions to discover and advance the effects of an integrated cloud system on the protection and extension of patients’ lives.”
The day after the visit with the Santa Monica tech companies, the delegation spent several hours at Culver City-based industry innovation catalyst Bioscience Los Angeles County Inc. meeting with Chief Executive David Whelan, among others.