Journal of Cyber Policy | June 21, 2023

“Thanks to initiatives like the CKD challenge, we achieve synergies with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing us to unlock the full potential of digital health and improve the lives”
— Dr. César Velasco, Director of Innovation & Digital Strategy, AstraZeneca

MADRID, SPAIN, June 21, 2023/ — Mediwhale, a South Korean startup, has emerged as the winner of the ‘CKD Challenge‘ organized by AstraZeneca with the collaboration of Wayra, Telefónica’s innovation hub. The challenge, aimed at fostering the innovation ecosystem, was launched to develop innovative technological solutions to reduce the burden of chronic kidney disease (CKD), a severe, progressive, and unknown disease that affects 15% of the Spanish population.

The CKD Challenge was launched as part of the latest edition of the South Summit by Wayra and AstraZeneca with the purpose of identifying innovative solutions that will help accelerate the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The challenge proposals were evaluated by a panel of experts based on criteria such as the use of technology, the value proposition to respond to an unmet need, the potential to improve healthcare and quality of life, or the degree of innovation, among others. A total of 17 proposals advanced to the final evaluation with Mediwhale winning the prize.

Startups like Renalyse,, and Gendius also presented compelling projects as part of the challenge. Renalyse utilizes a portable device to analyze biomarkers in the blood, aiding in the diagnosis of CKD. offers a portable device accompanied by an app that analyzes the results of reactive urine tests using the smartphone camera. Gendius has developed an algorithm that calculates the risk of CKD in patients using various variables extracted from hospital databases.

Mediwhale has developed Artificial Intelligence algorithms that use non-invasive retina scans to analyze and predict future disease risks. In addition to the winning CKD diagnostic solution for this challenge, the company has also created three additional solutions that utilize retinal imaging. These solutions serve as powerful tools for predicting the risk of cardiovascular diseases, screening for eye conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma, and even assessing the risk of mortality based on the retina condition.

In recognition of their achievement, Mediwhale was awarded a grant of €40,000 from AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca will also provide comprehensive support to develop the pilot projects. The pilots will include multiple phases, including the analysis of retinal images for pre-validation of the diagnosis reliability, the study of the project with patients and healthcare professionals to demonstrate its viability, and ultimately, the implementation of the solution in routine clinical practice.

Mediwhale’s CKD Challenge solution will be shared through the global network of innovation centers of AstraZeneca, including A.Catalyst Network. This opportunity will grant Mediwhale access to experts from all over the world and enable scalability on a global level. Additionally, Mediwhale will also have access to AstraZeneca’s network of opinion leaders and professionals from the healthcare sector in Spain. This network will guide them throughout the project development and provide them with access to collaborators and investors in the innovation ecosystem.

“Thanks to initiatives like the CKD challenge, we achieve synergies with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing us to unlock the full potential of digital health and improve the lives of people living with chronic diseases,” highlights Dr. César Velasco, director of Innovation and Digital Strategy at AstraZeneca Spain, and highlights the company’s commitment “to promote the development of innovative solutions that improve the lives of patients, from prevention and early diagnosis to the treatment and monitoring of the patients.”

AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription drugs in Oncology, Rare Diseases and Biopharma, including Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism, and Respiratory and Immunology. Headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom, AstraZeneca operates in more than 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients around the world.

AstraZeneca is Top Employers in Spain and Europe and has been awarded the EFR certificate for Family Responsible Business.

Mediwhale is the AI-empowered health diagnostics company that uses non-invasive retina scans to help prevent heart and kidney diseases. Mediwhale’s solutions use deep learning algorithms to detect disease risks even before symptoms appear. Mediwhale has been dedicated to making preventative care more affordable, accessible, safe, and convenient since being founded in 2016 in South Korea.

Gorostidi M, Sanchez-Martinez M, Ruilope LM, Graciani A, de la Cruz JJ, Santamaria R, et al. Prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Spain: the impact of the accumulation of cardiovascular risk factors. Nephrology. 2018; 38 (6) :606—15.

Webster AC, Nagler EV, Morton RL, Masson P. Chronic Kidney Disease. The Lancet 2017; 389 (10075) :1238-52. doi: 10.1016/S0140- 6736 (16) 32064-

Luke Keding
HKA Marketing Communications