Led by MSc HMDI alumni Daniel Rosales and Oliver Rockall (both class of 2022), the current academic year’s Transforming Early Takers keystone course began in October with a clear remit – to take students along a path of self-discovery while learning to devise and pitch digital therapeutic solutions. Daniel and Oliver recount why their own experience of the program urged them to get on board, and how they have been sharing their entrepreneurial insight into the health sector with the next generation of technologically-savvy healthcare professionals.

A core part of emlyon business school programs is the institution’s adherence to its “transforming early makers” strategy. In the case of the MSc in Health Management & Data Intelligence, the application of this ethos translates itself notably via a series of seminars plunging students into the realities of the health industry and the crucial role played by digital technologies. As one of the leaders of this year’s course Oliver Rockall explains, the school has certain expectations of this year’s diverse cohort, who arrived on the course from the fields of Pharma, Biochemistry, Business Management, Health Informatics, Nursing, and Economics to name a few: “as one would expect of emlyon, we have been working with a melting pot of students from many backgrounds. What we need from them is the ability to solve problems creatively, execute projects swiftly, and gain a keen understanding of market shifts.”

When students innovate and create

Via a combination of lecture cycles, workshops, coaching sessions, and roundtables, the students have benefitted from problem-based learning, been exposed to business model development techniques, and become increasingly skilled in pitching to potential investors. The students are grouped into five teams, each working on their own startups in various areas of care such as oncology, neurology, and women's health.


Oliver’s counterpart as leader of the seminars, Daniel Rosales, explains the active choice of methodology he and Oliver have taken for this year’s keystone course: “it is during the groupwork stage of the seminars that theoretical knowledge meets practical application. Students engage in a rigorous process of learning, ideating, and iterating their ideas through an innovative process to build viable businesses. This approach is crucial in a dynamic and rapidly evolving field such as digital health. As a result, we need them to not just be learners, but above all innovators and creators.”

Learning from digital health entrepreneurs

One of the strengths of this year’s Transforming Early Makers course is that it is being delivered by actual emlyon alumni of the same program who not so long ago launched their own AI-based solution to help patients navigate care pathways, Tailoraid. Not only does their student experience of the program and the school remain very fresh in the memory but they are also living day-by-day the opportunity and challenge of devising new innovative solutions to streamline patient care.


For having gone through the same journey just two years ago, Oliver is very keen to give the current cohort a taste for setting up their own start-up: “early on in the initiative we get the student teams on board in a consulting capacity with Tailoraid. We want them to experience firsthand the reality of developing digital therapeutics, just as Daniel and I did when still students and above all when preparing, launching, and running our own business venture. There is no substitute for learning by doing so what better way than to get potential future digital health innovators working with those who have recently assumed such a status?”

Know your market in order to succeed

Among the key objectives of the Transforming Early Makers course is to ensure that students not only come up with innovative and successful ideas but also know how to size up the market in support of the pitch they will make to investors. For Daniel, you cannot possibly have one without the other: “we try to make the sessions as all-encompassing as possible, covering the crucial technical and technological areas, but also regulatory matters, the legal dimension, intellectual property issues, and the situation in public versus private sectors and across different countries. Above all, we seek to train students in identifying the correct conditions for effective market access. You can design an all-singing, all-dancing technological healthcare solution but addressing the right market with the right strategy will ultimately decide the success of your venture.”

Delving into healthcare innovation

Following a series of mock pitch exercises early in the calendar year, the cohort stepped into the spotlight on 23rd February for their main challenge. Set against the vibrant backdrop of the emlyon campus, this significant day began with a roundtable discussion led by six distinguished panelists from the pharmaceutical industry, venture capital, digital therapeutics startups, and European healthcare innovation agencies. The conversation delved into the evolving landscape of healthcare innovation, positioning digital health as the linchpin for future advancements. Following this insightful dialogue, the stage was set for the five emergent startups from the course to pitch their ventures.


This event not only marked a crucial milestone in the students' entrepreneurial journey but also underscored the critical role of digital health innovation in shaping the future of healthcare, reflecting the program's success in nurturing the next generation of leaders poised to drive this transformation.