CMAST: Bringing ideas from a risky early stage to a viable healthcare solution

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CMAST knows that much more than good science is needed to create innovative healthcare solutions that will have an impact on society. The company aims to accelerate the advancement of promising projects through excellent project management. With ex-Johnson & Johnson innovation leader Kurt Hertogs as the brand-new Chief Innovation and Operations Officer, CMAST has added a respected industry veteran to its ranks.

Eight years ago, Glenn Van Dael, CMAST CEO, founded the company with his wife, Nadia De Wilde. Both were eager to contribute to the acceleration of innovation in the life sciences and healthcare sectors. “At CMAST, we want to work on healthcare solutions that have a lasting impact on the lives of patients and on society as a whole,” says the CEO. Van Dael also knows that it takes more than good science to achieve that. That’s where CMAST comes in: “We support the development of ideas and innovations in every nonscientific way possible. We take over the project management and the financial and administrative duties from our clients; we put our clients in contact with the right partners so that they can focus on the scientific and technological aspects of their projects.” The sheer magnitude and complexity of major healthcare challenges such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer make it unlikely that any company can fully develop a solution to these problems by itself. Many from within the healthcare sector realize that collaboration will be a vital part of developing future drugs, diagnostics tests, and medical devices. CMAST aims to be a key facilitator in this collaborative effort. “The industry is leaning more and more towards a multi-stakeholder model, in which many parties combine competencies to progress their innovations,” elaborates Van Dael. “The strength of CMAST in this arrangement is that it can co-create consortia and partnerships, define projects and business plans, and find financing opportunities.”

From big pharma back to the roots of innovation

In the past few years, CMAST has built an impressive reputation within the life sciences industry by participating in community efforts and in the healthcare sector as a whole. The company also continues to grow at a rapid pace and, in March 2017, was able to attract Dr. Kurt Hertogs as its brand-new Chief Innovation and Operations Officer. With more than 20 years of experience working in biotech (Tibotec & Virco) and big pharma (Janssen Research & Development and Johnson & Johnson Innovation), Hertogs is a powerful addition to CMAST’s management team.
CMAST has the focused scientific and project management expertise needed to tackle complex healthcare innovation projects. The company is in an excellent position to advance these high-risk projects.
When asked what attracted him to this new venture, the pharma veteran is clear: “During my time at J & J, we reviewed many innovative ideas from academics and entrepreneurs. A frequent response was, ‘Interesting opportunity, but it is at too early a stage and still too risky for big pharma.’ I started to wonder how it would be possible to develop and propel some of these ideas. In my opinion, there are several answers to this question, but as a believer in effective project management based on solid science, I’m convinced CMAST is in a good position to contribute to the advancement of some of these high-risk projects and make these early-stage developments more attractive to larger players. “Indeed, CMAST has the focused scientific and project management expertise needed to tackle complex healthcare innovation projects. As Glenn has mentioned, future healthcare solutions will involve a combination of drugs, technology, and information. Bringing all these factors together in a comprehensive approach requires skillful, science-driven project management, which is essentially the core competency of CMAST.”

From advice to execution

The activities of CMAST extend well beyond the traditional concept of consulting. Management duo Van Dael and Hertogs are determined to actively bring added value to the life sciences sector. Van Dael strongly believes in the unique position of CMAST: “Knowledge and focus are two important factors that differentiate our company from others. Our professionals have a solid scientific background, and through many successful projects, our team has built an extensive knowledge of the industry. It’s this experience that we can offer to future clients and, as such, contribute to the progress of the life sciences cluster in its entirety.” “True added value comes when expert advice is translated into a plan and when this plan is effectively executed,” explains Hertogs. “While, obviously, everything starts with brilliant ideas and products, the quick and accurate execution of plans and the significant shortening of development timelines through solid project management are arguably the largest leverage for added value! From past experience, I know that the speed with which innovation can be brought to the patient is an often-underestimated parameter of value creation. Every day, week, or month sooner that a good healthcare solution reaches the patient may result in a number of years of life saved or a significant improvement in the quality of life for those who need these solutions.” For more info, head over to