Category: Startup of The Month

Bringing the global overview of digital health to SXSW

This year’s SXSW was the second time Future for health attended one of the worlds liveliest innovation, music, entrepreneurship and latest tech trends festival. This year in Austin, Texas we hosted three companies in our pavilion in the exhibition space – G4A Generator and global FTR4H sponsors BGI and Philips Healthworks. The highlight, however, was the full-day conference, held on Sunday, March 11th.

See the full program here. 

The main focus of the program was to bring the international audience the best global speakers from various countries. After an introduction of FTR4 by its co-founder Tom Mitchell, President of MDNA, the opening keynote was in the hands of Rasu Shrestha, CIO at UPMC and Head of UPMC Enterprises.

The subject of his keynote was “Everybody wants to innovate, nobody wants to change”, and as he emphasized, the biggest danger to innovation is complacency of existing market players. When talking about innovation, we need to be aware it regards behavioral change, which requires deep design thinking. Only in such design technology can be invisible to the user and consequently effective.

Priscilla Beal, Head of G4A Generator, presented Bayers new, the US focused initiative for startups addressing self-care in the areas of sun and skin protection, external pain management, nutritional support and digital self-care.

Johannes Steger (left on the picture below), Journalist at Handelsblatt moderated the panel of patient self-care with panelists Jordi Piera Jiménez, Secretary of the Strategic IT Board at the Catalonian Healthcare Department and Jorrit Ebben, Co-founder & Managing Director, Academy Het Dorp.


Our global FTR4H Evangelist Mark Wächter talked to Brian Rosnov, Innovation Lead at Philips HealthWorks about solving Healthcare challenges via collaboration. HealthWorks a recently created unit within Philips has a mission to generate Breakthrough Innovation in the area of Healthcare particularly Digital Health. Working at a global level, HealthWorks is creating new methods of collaboration with external startups and the Healthcare eco-system to solve some of the bigger challenges that exist in Healthcare around the world.

The conversation on collaboration was followed by a debate on potentials of blockchain in healthcare with Eugene Borukhovich, the Global Head of Digital Health Incubation & Innovation at Bayer, Samson Williams, co-founder of Axes & Eggs, a cryptocurrency mining company and Michael Dillhyon, Co-founder of Swiss-based Healthbank. It was moderated by the  FTR4H Ambassador Tjaša Zajc, business developer at Iryo.

We are especially proud to offer the SXSW audience an insight into digital health development around the world. The session was moderated by Maren Lesche, eHealth Startup Expert, and Ambassador at FTR4H.

Jonathan Lee (picture above), Executive Director of Academy at MaGIC, presented Malaysia. Regine M.A. Th. Aalders, Counselor for Health, Welfare and Sport to Canada and the USA, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands presented the state of eHealth and digital health in the Netherlands. FTR4H Ambassador Moka Lantum talked about opportunities and specifics of the African market. We heard the presentation of approaches to digital health in Norway, presented by Nard Schreurs, Director eHealth, and smart living at IKT-Norge/ITK Norway.

Big Data and AI are buzzwords when it comes to healthcare future. From public health to personal patient data and transparency of medical documentation, to care personalization, to the future of work for clinicians, the expectations on Big Data impact are at times astonishing and at times alarming.

Elena Poughia, Managing Director At DataNatives and Dataconomy talked to Urška Sršen, Founder and CCO at Bellabeat, Anthony Gerardi, MBA, Chief Operating Officer of Enterprise Analytics, Gwynneth Ballentine, Digital Health Innovation Lead, TMC Innovation Institute, Sangeeta Chakraborty, CCO, Ayasdi and Wout Brusselaers, CEO, Co.founder Deep 6 AI.

After an open-mic session, we wrapped up the conference with genomics. Mark Wächter talked to dr. Wang Jingjing, a Product Manager at BGI International. Dr. Wang Jingjing gave a speech on the topic of “The Future of Genomics – Whole Genome Sequencing WGS.” She mentioned that in the field of pathogen detection, metagenomics sequencing provides a single, all-inclusive diagnostic test and allows actionable information to be obtained sooner than traditional techniques. In the future of personalized medicine, sequencing is easy to obtain, while the comprehensiveness of microbial WGS database and data interpretation will be the challenge. Metagenome sequence data will be an important tool to predict disease susceptibility and drug response.

FTR4H global sponsors:

Genomics Logo

SXSW: Meet the FemTech startup MediLad

According to CBinsights, Startups have raised over $1.1B to help improve women’s healthcare. At SXSW 2017, we therefore invited a new startup that developed a FemTech solution that will support teenage girls in learning more about sexual health: The Hungarian-German startup MediLad builds personalized health conversations for women.The first product of the young female founders team is Izzy, a period tracking chatbot for messenger. In a short time of 3 months, the female founder team engaged 15,000 users worldwide and processed around 300,000 messages. In September 2016, the team joined the first batch of Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin.

What is FemTech? The analysts of CBinsights divid FemTech in eight major areas:

  • Fertility solutions – Startups providing IVF, egg freezing, and medical treatments for female infertility.
  • Period & fertility tracking mobile apps – Mobile apps for self-tracking of periods and fertility cycles.
  • At-home fertility monitoring devices – Startups offering hardware devices for women to monitor their fertility at home.
  • Pregnancy & nursing care – Startups offering medical care & diagnostics for pregnant women, as well as tech-enhanced breast pumps.
  • Reproductive system healthcare – Healthcare companies focused on women’s sexual health issues, such as pelvic floor device makers and women’s STI treatments.
  • General healthcare – Teams aiming to improve the overall clinical healthcare experience for women.
  • Period care goods – Startups offering pads, tampons, and CPG items for managing periods.
  • Women’s sexual wellness – Startups offering lubricants and related items to help women improve sexual wellness.

Learn more about MediLad & Izzy at the FTR4H Digital Health Reception on March 13th, 4pm, at the German Pavillion, Wunderbar.

SXSW17: Digital Health rocks the sky. Let’s fly with Skycart!

Imagine you are sick and your medicine is just 30 min by Drone away… Or you will die without a vital blood transfer: German startup Skycart revolutionizes the way physical goods are shipped today. A network of autonomously flying drones carries your medicine to you – if you can’t leave your house. For that Skycart builds a UAV network for seamless peer-to-peer delivery by air. Digital Health rocks the sky!

On March 13th, Lukas, founder of US-American & German startup Skycart, will present his new way of transportation to all guest of the FRT4H Digital Health Reception at SXSW along with iRewardHealth and Seemed.

Looking back at MEDICA 2015: Congrats to Voicett

Startup of the Month: In 2015 the MEDICA App COMPETITION was scouting for successful mobile health startups for the fourth time. Ten early-stage startups presented their digital health apps on stage at the worlds biggest medical trade fair in Dusseldorf. At the end 2016 the winner — Israeli startup VoiceItt — announced another big milestone in their young company history: The international BIRD Foundation granted $900,000 to the development of VoiceItts mobile voice- and voice-pattern recognition software for people with disabilities. VoiceItt co-founder Danny Weissberg shared his view on their achievements after winning MEDICA App COMPETITION in 2015:

Danny, for the ones that do not know: Can you describe in a few sentences what the VoiceItt team is working on?

Danny: Voiceitt is developing an innovative speech recognition technology called Talkitt. In future, it translates non-standard speech patterns into clear speech in real time, enabling people with speech impairments to communicate spontaneously and naturally using their own voices. The solution is language-independent and can be easily integrated into existing operating systems and devices allowing speech recognition truly accessible to everyone.

You started in 2012, what happened since then?

Danny: A lot! Currently we are conducting Beta testing on dozens of potential users that show very promising results, planning to do pilot testing with Hospitals, e.g. UHealth and BCH. We will release the first product in the mid-2017. It was not an easy journey. But we were also extremely lucky to get tremendous positive feedback and could secure the necessary funding to develop such a demanding technology. To date we have raised more than $2.5M — most recently we won a grant from the Bird Foundation and a grant of 50,000 Euro from H2020 SME Instrument, Phase 1.

You have won more than $2.5; in grants and competitions without giving up much equity — much more than many other startups get from investors after years of hard work. What is your magic recipe?

Danny: We won $2M in grants but also gave up equity for $500K of Angel investments. This is no magic; it is a deliberate strategy. Developing a solution for people with disabilities is the most amazing and rewarding challenge — being able to dramatically improve and impact the lives of millions while building a very profitable business while developing cutting edge technologies. However, many investors don’t want to invest in what they see as a “Niche market”. Because of that from Day #1 on I knew we had to be creative in fundraising and put the effort more on grants\competitions were we have an advantage telling a powerful and emotional story versus private investors where we have a disadvantage of a niche market.

“We won $2M in grants but also gave up equity for $500K of Angel investments. This is no magic; it is a deliberate strategy.”

Just a few tips for fellow entrepreneurs that consider applying for grants: How long does it usually take to apply for grants?

Danny: It varies. Some are just simple web forms that takes an hour and some are long applications and processes that take’s week of work and the process make take up to a year! This is why you need to choose the “lowest hanging fruits”, where you effort is most likely to be fruitful and remember that with grants the processes are very long so make sure you have enough run rate.

Is there a complete list of competitions and grants other founders could check out?

Danny: Unfortunately, there isn’t! It also all depends on the area you are active in.

Israel is said to be the Startup Nation and many interesting digital health startups emerge from your small country. At VoiceItt, many of your investors have Israeli roots too. It looks like there is a special glue that hold together Israeli founders?

Danny: The Startup Nation has very good reputation of success and it helps getting funding from investors overseas. In our case, some investors are personally connected to the mission because they or one of their family members have speech disabilities.

You also launched your business for personal reasons?

Danny: Yes, when my grandmother had a stroke and lost her voice, it made me realize how hard it is for a person to lose this basic ability to communicate. Our app Talkitt will connect people, who have speech disabilities to the ever more voice-enabled world.
I am sure, speech recognition is going to be dominant in our life. This is how we are going to communicate not only among ourselves but with machines, computers, cars, smart homes and this is why all major companies invest in it — be it Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, IBM or Google. However, none of those companies develop a solution for people with speech disabilities.

2017 just started, what are you up to?

Danny: In 2016 we finally started Beta Testing which helps our R&D to focus on improving the technology in real-life conditions and getting the application closer to release. In 2017, we will continue pilot tests with leading hospitals to launch Talkitt worldwide — and at a very high success rate. In the last years we worked really hard to develop a product that is suitable for any kind of speech impairment. Nothing is more frustrating for people with speech issues than crushing their hopes of finally being able to communicate using their own voice by delivering a mobile app that is not tested enough. Pilot testing in Barcelona, the UK, The USA and of course your tech development in Israel. In 2016, you also attended Mobile World Congress as prize from MEDICA App COMPETITION and at Mobile World Congress you won tickets for TechCrunch Disrupt New York. Sounds like you travel a lot.

How do you cope with “living on the fast lane” all the time?

Danny: I don’t even have time to look back on how many miles I and the team travelled in 2016 — but it has been A LOT! The tough thing is not so much the traveling but the Jet-leg when traveling over the ocean.

It is said that 9 out of 10 startups struggle and die. You fought this cycle successfully so far. What advice can you give other founders that are active globally like you?

“Focus on the product development, be creative in fund sources.”

Danny, thanks for the interview and good luck in 2017!

“A friend who got misdiagnosed (…) is the inspiration behind Biop Medical”

Startup of the Month: In November 2016, Israeli startup Biop Medical successfully convinced the jury of the digital healthcare MEDICA App COMPETITION of the potential of its technology. I talked with Dalit Milo and Ilan Landesman, the two founders of the team that became runners-up at #5MAC16.

Dalit, can you describe in a few sentences what Biop Medical is about?

Dalit: Our team at Bio Medical has developed an innovative technology for identifying cancerous cells in epithelial tissue. We combine hardware and software: our real-time screening tool offers standard colposcope capabilities with state-of-the-art, enhanced features. It combines advanced, high-resolution optics with integrated micro and macro cameras and other optical elements to produce highly sensitive optical signatures for automatic identification of suspicious areas and quantification of the pre-cancer and cancer stages. Then our software comes in: the collected data is combined and analyzed using our proprietary algorithm. We are convinced that our transducer will supplement — or replace — current colposcopy technologies for cervical cancer screening.

When did you start?

Ilan: We started to think about optical signatures of cancer tissues a few years back. In 2012, we finally started to test its proof of concept. And we came a long way: In 2016, we finished safety trials, we educated our machine learning algorithm using 80 patients, and we designed our first commercial product.

“Next year, we will submit our device for FDA & CE clearance.”

How did you come up with the idea?

Dalit: We had a close friend who got misdiagnosed for cervical cancer. She passed away a couple of years ago. She is the inspiration behind Biop Medical.

MedTech is a very special field. What advice can you give other startups in MedTech?

Ilan: It’s very hard; prepare yourself for ups and downs — as in every startup and even more! Do not stop believing if you get feedback from investors like we did: Some tell you, “you are too early”. Others say, “you are too late for us”.

It looks like you are up for that challenge!?

“The people behind Biop Medical are awesome! Biop Medical is a 24/7 project. Our team is truly multidisciplinary, strongly bonded, highly motivated and fully dedicated. We have known each other for many years before Biop Medical was established. We are family!”

At the end of the year we have to look back at 2016, what numbers have been significant for Biop Medical last year? Any major investments or milestones?

Dalit: 83 has been one of the magic numbers for us in 2016! We reached 83 percent accuracy and this only by using part of our optical features. In 2017, we plan to increase accuracy to 90 percent. MEDICA was another milestone. We are getting ready to distribute our solution in Western Europe and especially Germany. Usually, we do not travel that much, since we have to be involved with the R&D work in our lab, which is located in Ramat-Gan, Israel. However, especially in future we do need to spend more time to do our clinical study in Europe and focus on fund-raising in international conferences like MEDICA. So I guess there are more milestones coming in 2017! Dalit, Ilan, thanks for the interview and CU next year at the conferences worldwide!

At SXSW 2017, more than 90,000 music and film experts, startup founders and eHealth experts met to discuss trends, innovation and future collaboration. More than 400 session in 24 tracks covered topics such as eHealth, FinTech, IoT, Gaming, Social Entrepreneurship, Sports, Transportation and much more. A great place to kick off our global Think Tank FTR4H. Here a few impressions from SXSW:

Mark Wächter kicking off the SXSW FTR4H Digital Health Reception
Kim Bond Evans, founder of Seremedi, pitching CareScription at the SXSW FTR4H Digital Health Reception
iRewardHealth on stage at the FTR4H Digital Health Reception
Maren Lesche presenting MediLad, a chatbot startup in Femtech from Europe
Kicking off FTR4H at GermanHaus at SXSW
Till Kästner presenting a German case study at the FTR4H Digital Health Reception at SXSW