More than 120 startups of the health and wellness industry attended the SLUSH start-up conference in Helsinki last week. There were two areas specifically dedicated to digital health space: the Health Demo Area and the Health and Wellness Track. With the help of EIT ICT Labs, Sitra, Suunto, and HealthSPA, the start-ups showcased their disruptive products. The winner of this year’s Showcase Demo competition was BetterDoctor, the startup that helps people find doctors. The health and wellbeing domain is clearly booming at the moment.
Christian Lindholm and Sebastien Gianelli, the entrepreneurs passionate about wearables and the HealthSPA founders, sat down with blogger Elena Zozylya to talk about what is happening in the digital health space in Finland.
Can you share your insights into the health and wellness domain?
“There is a creative explosion happening right now in this startup sector. We see lots of new companies emerging. In Finland alone we have over 100 startups that tackle health and wellness issues. Regarding products, we see unique combinations of hardware and software. There are companies that create sensors. And there are companies that build advanced algorithms enabling innovative data mining of these sensors.”
Why is Finland the right place to nurture health technology?
“Innovation starts with people. There is a lot of talent in this domain in Finland. The Finnish companies like Suunto, Polar, Vaisala pioneered this space back in the day and still today they are at the forefront. We have all components in place that are required to build successful health and wellness companies. First, we know how to create both embedded hardware and embedded software. Second, we have the classic Finnish service design and, third, we are good at UI design. Combining these disciplines in a novel way allows us to create great businesses. Valkee and PulseOn would be good examples of how people with the cross-industry experience create innovative health companies.
There is also a new wave of startups founded by enthusiastic young people that are inspired by the growing startup ecosystem and events like Slush. These startups meet medical experts and scientists to learn from them and back their technology up with the research that has been done for decades. Good examples of these type of companies are NetMedi, Health Puzzle and Framgo.”
You have founded HealthSPA cluster. Could you tell a bit more about it?
“HealthSPA is a grassroot platform by startups for startups. We founded it in January 2013 to accelerate learning between startups in the health and wellness space and to increase the whole community’s chances of success. We are driven by a belief that together we are stronger. On the same social platform we can learn faster. This year our focus has been to build the community. We organized 4 events for startups to meet and find synergy. One of them is the pitching competition that allowed startups to get media exposure. Next year we want to concentrate on hands-on support and accelerator type of activities like trips abroad. The cluster is open for everyone in this sector: get in touch with us at email@example.com.”
Health is something universal, that we all deal throughout our lives. If Finland is able to leverage its expertise and build strong cross-discipline teams, the chances are high that at Slush 2014 we’ll see more success stories in the digital health and wellness space.
Original blog article by Elena Zozylya at www.slush.org/2013/11/health-track/