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Litesprite CEO Swatee Surve (right) with her mentor Jeanne Kehern, senior vice president of digital health and innovation at Bayer. (Bayer Photo)

Two Seattle-area startups were hand-picked by Bayer for a competitive program to create novel digital health solutions. It’s an endorsement of the region’s growing life science industry and of the potential for startups creating healthcare products with software and artificial intelligence.

Litesprite and Prevencio were two of only 11 startups that beat out a field of 750 companies from 65 countries for the chance to collaborate with the German pharmaceutical heavyweight, which is known for over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications aimed at women’s health and heart conditions. Successful partnerships from the program, called G4A, could go on to create new healthcare products.

Litesprite was chosen for Bayer’s growth track, which gives early-stage companies a 75,000 euro investment and the opportunity to work with Bayer on digital health solutions for patients with heart disease, cancer, respiratory and eye-related problems, among other applications.

“It’s an opportunity for us to reach the scale that we have envisioned all along and reach millions of people,” said Litesprite CEO Swatee Surve. “That’s a challenge when you’re a little guy.”

Litesprite makes apps for people with chronic conditions that use games to increase patient engagement. The startup last year won the TRAILS startup competition hosted by healthcare innovation hub Cambia Grove.

Prevencio CEO Rhonda Rhyne. (Prevencio Photo)

Prevencio won the chance to be part of Bayer’s advance track, which focuses on creating commercial products with initial project funding as well as milestone payments. The size of those payments was not disclosed.

Prevencio pairs artificial intelligence with blood tests in order to screen patients for cardiovascular diseases and risk. Bayer could use the startup’s technology to identify high-risk patients who are well-suited to clinical trials, which has the potential to speed up drug development.

“There’s the old way of developing drugs that takes billions of dollars and 20 years. They see what we’re doing using AI as a way to decrease the amount of time and the money to develop the drugs,” said Prevencio CEO Rhonda Rhyne, who previously served as president and COO of CardioDynamics.

Seattle was recognized as the top emerging life sciences hub earlier this year by commercial real estate firm CBRE. The area’s wealth of software developer talent has helped to give rise to a class of startups hoping to disrupt healthcare with software.

“This is freaking awesome. We’re getting Seattle’s name out on the map,” said Surve. “We still have lacking infrastructure, but there is talent and there are people working on transformative solutions in the region.”

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