European Healthtech Investment Forum was held for the third time in Helsinki, Finland on 13-14-March 2019. The forum which was organised by Techtour in collaboration with Business Finland in The Finlandia Hall brought together dozens of healthtech startups and investors for a two days compilation of presentations, competition and one-to-one meetings. Both startups and investors came from all around the world.

There is a lot happening in the E-health and Healthtech field which is still obscure to the public as the route from innovation to widespread use is long and specially for diagnostic or therapeutic innovation is also highly regulated. You may build an app for tracking women’s menstrual period or migraine headaches and bring it to the Appstore right away, but a medical device or new methodology has to go through animal and clinical trials first and get CE, FDA and other approvals before it becomes available to hospitals or consumers.

For the 3rd annual EHIF forum, 40 startups were selected form among over 70 applicants to present their companies and ideas to investors. Most of the elected companies were in the verge of raising series A or B funding, meaning that they had already spent or as some investors hate to use; “burnt” their seed investments and some public funding. 

Popit, a Finnish company with an innovative pill tracking device and app helps consumers keep track of their pills. The small device is attached to your blister pill sheet and records every pill taken and sends you a notification through the app if you miss one. Popit, which also used crowdfunding through Indigogo to raise money for developing the device, was seeking a 3-5 €M round to accelerate sales and expand. The patented technology seems promising, but a price tag of USD 79 (€50) each for the device may hinder sales. 

Symptoma, a Dutch company established more than 10 years ago is not considered a startup by company age standards, but the service it is offering is an emerging field in E-health. Symptoma is in the crowded market of “symptom checking”, I.e. offering online diagnosis direct to consumers using a large database of medical texts and articles and machine learning. The idea is simple: The user types his or her symptoms into the search field on Symptom’s site and the interface asks you more questions before giving you a range of possible diagnosis. The service is free of charge for users and is funded by advertisement. There are numerous companies in this filed with similar services with some like Babylon Health spending tens of millions of investment money into building an AI doctor, but symptom claims that its platform is the best. To prove this the company presents a chart based on British Medical Journals’s (BMJ) F- Score Benchmark Plot which scores Symptoma’s diagnostic accuracy on the top place way above well known providers of similar service such as Webmed and Mayoclinic. 

On the investor front Monita Mo, Founder and Partner at Ascend Capital Partners, stands out among a mainly VC and Pharma dominated crowd of participants. Monita, a self made woman from Hong Kong, now lives in Manhattan and invests in promising startups. In 2017, Ascend Capital Partners invested a total of €24 million in four Finnish companies in the healthcare and automotive industries. 

Two of these companies are Aiforia, which is using logarithms for pathological image analysis and diagnosis and Grundium which has invented an automatic pathology slide scanning microscope. Having a relative in the filed of Pathology she was familiar with the challenges with the filed and shortage of pathologists worldwide and in specially in the growing market of China. Monita Mo prides herself in taking an active, hands on role in the companies she invests in. She has already had 3 exits and a 100% success rate with her investments. 

Next big medical forum in Finland will be HIMSS & Health 2.0 European Conference, taking place on June 11-13 June.


Alexis Kouros - HT