Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Digital Health – How startups are changing the healthcare industry

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

3 health startups against the great problems of our time

Founding a startup in the health sector is considered the most challenging task. The regulations for a market entry are high, and developing a well-functioning business model is difficult, since most people consider health a given, a service which they normally don’t have to pay for directly. However, there are businesses which are not letting the red tape get them down while they take on the world’s greatest health problems. Who would have thought that a VR game could make therapy easier for children in cancer care? Or that plant diseases could be identified through a smartphone camera to help protect crops for thousands of people? Here are three health startups which you need on your radar:

1. TOMMI – Helping children with cancer

In Germany alone, nearly 2200 people under 18 are diagnosed with cancer every year. In total, the German Childhood Cancer Registry (DKKR) currently records 55000 children suffering from cancer. While there are many therapies available already, these often bring with them a high psychological and emotional burden for the children and their caregivers. The team around founder Valentino Megale is taking on this problem and developing a VR-based interactive game for children and their carers. The purpose of this game is to help children deal constructively with loneliness, stress and anger during their hospitalization.

Additionally, the game aims to support communication between the young patients and their caregivers beyond the immediate hospital context. To this end, some of the tasks in the game can only be completed with the caregiver’s help. Even if the cancer is not being fought directly through the game, TOMMI is easing the suffering of many children worldwide. The idea was born during the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for Health Hackathon in Rome.

2. PEAT – A startup against world hunger

The AgTech startup PEAT uses artificial intelligence to diagnose plant diseases via smartphone camera. Users simply take a photo of the diseased plant, which is then compared to archived photos of diagnosed plant illnesses in the app. If there is a match with an archived photo, the user is immediately informed. The app increases incorporated each new photo into its archive, allowing its future diagnoses to become even more accurate. Founded in 2015, PEAT launched its app “Plantix” the following year. The long-term goal is for farmers throughout the world to be able to monitor the condition of their crops easily and continuously. Famines due to crop failure will be a thing of the past. If diseases are recognised early enough, the loss of entire plantations, where diseases spread particularly fast, can be avoided.

3. VeriPAD – The fight against counterfeit medications

Counterfeit medicines cost the pharmaceutical industry in Europe €10.2m in 2016, according to estimates from the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The ultimate victims of medication fraud, however, are not the pharma companies, but the patients themselves, as consuming counterfeit medication can be life-threatening. There is often no active ingredient in the adulterated medicine, so it has no effect whatsoever on the illness. The founders of VeriPAD experienced the effects these kinds of medications can have first hand, and founded the startup VeriPAD. They are developing an app which enables laboratories – as well as patients – to determine immediately if medication is genuine or counterfeit. VeriPAD is based on a combination of software and hardware: a self-developed smart paper is the basis for testing the chemical reactions of the medication.

A pattern develops on the test paper, and image recognition capabilities in the app ascertain whether the ingredients of the medication are the same as those advertised on the packet. According to a statement from the World Health Organisation, 20-50% of prescription medications worldwide are counterfeit. If VeriPAD’s innovation becomes established, the counterfeit medication trade could soon come to an end.

Are you a founder of a health startup yourself? – Then apply before 26th June 2017 to our accelerator and get your startup to the next level! The accelerator will support you with up to €50000, as well as tailored coaching and workshops delivered by handpicked mentors from an expert network spanning 67 countries worldwide. You will also get office space in the Innovation Center in Darmstadt or Mettā in Nairobi for the duration of the three-month program. We welcome applications from any startup with a focus on the healthcare, life science or performance materials. To apply for the Germany Accelerator, click here: http://bit.ly/2pxkYIm. For Kenya, please apply here: http://bit.ly/2q6rEkn

About the accelerator

Our accelerator program supports young companies in their seed-phase with a focus on the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials. For the program in Nairobi there is a special focus on projects in the field of digital health. The first step is the selection of digital business models, from the above fields, into the program. The chosen firms for the program in Darmstadt receive office space at the Innovation Center. Those in Nairobi have the opportunity to use office spaces in the Nairobi Metta. Besides workspaces, both programs are receiving mentoring and coaching, on a regular basis, from a pool consisting of more than 50,000 experts from 67 countries. Furthermore, the teams get financial support of up to € 50,000.


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