Data science company Saddle Point Science Europe joins Digital Health ecosystem Nijmegen 

In the development of new medicine, research and studies are an essential part of business. Data and the interpretation of data play an important role in the approval of new drugs and therapies. Saddle Point Science Europe provides advanced inference and predictive analysis of complex medical data. They collaborate with both public and private sector research teams. In contrast to most AI approaches, their methods and algorithms are transparent, interpretable and based on advanced mathematical techniques. 


Personalized medicine 

“We focus on the quantitative challenges posed by modern medicine.  Challenges that are caused by the increasing complexity of medical data.” says Ton Coolen, CEO and founder of Saddle Point. These challenges are also prompted by the ambition of personalized medicine, Coolen explains: “We know that many therapies only benefit a subset of patients, but very often we cannot predict benefit at the level of individuals – thereby condemning many patients to pointless treatments with serious side-effects.  We would like to use the vast amounts of new personalized medical data to ensure for each patient the right individual treatment at the right time.”  

Clinical trials 

Another problem Saddle Point hopes to address is that only about 14% of clinical trials lead to an approved drug. “The failure cost is highest for the so-called phase III trials, which cost around 50M$ on average. Failure implies that, while some patients may benefit from the drug, their number is too low to make the drug commercially viable. Had one been able to identify the responders prospectively, with better analytical tools, the trial could have succeeded”, according to Coolen. 

These challenges require novel mathematical and statistical approaches and a thorough understanding of the medical domain, Coolen explains: “We believe that we differ from conventional biomedical data science companies in two ways:  We are strongly research-driven, and involved in many active research collaborations with academic and medical research teams. And we combine the precision of our statistical methodology with the power of mathematical techniques from theoretical physics.” In addition to the benefit of personalized medicine to patients, the data analytics methods are also relevant for clinical research centers, the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology companies and public health services and insurers.  

Choice for Nijmegen 

Coolen worked for many years an a professor of Applied Mathematics at King’s College Londen. This is where Coolen, together with his team of academic colleagues, founded Saddle Point Science Ltd. In 2020 he decided to move back to the Netherlands where he combines his work as Professor in Machine Learning for Medicine at Radboud University in Nijmegen with his mission impacting the healthcare system with Saddle Point Science. 

“Nijmegen has an very attractive ecosystem for health technology companies because of the open innovation culture, where knowledge, network and ideas are shared with both academics and fellow health technology companies. Oost NL has been instrumental in smoothening our transition from the UK to the Netherlands, by helping us understand and navigate the local landscape and link up with relevant public and private sector partners. Especially since our arrival in Nijmegen coincided with the start of the covid pandemic, this made a big difference,” Coolen Says. 

Rik Luimes, Advisor Foreign Investments Health at Oost NL: “It’s great news for the health tech ecosystem in our region that Saddle Point Science chose Nijmegen as their new home. The expertise and knowledge Ton Coolen and his team bring to the table is unique and could be very beneficial for drug developing companies at Novio Tech Campus or Pivot Park for example. We’re happy to welcome them in our region.”