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Health Incubator Helsinki is a home for 24 promising teams aiming to turn their health innovations into successful businesses. The first batch of startups was welcomed to the program in 2020, and the second one joined Health Incubator Helsinki in April 2021. Get to know the companies and their innovation below!

Lapsi Health raised $0.6M to develop digital biomarkers

Lapsi Health raised $0.6M to develop digital biomarkers

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Lapsi Health's logo

Dutch medtech firm Lapsi Health recently announced that it has raised $0.6M in a pre-seed funding round to advance its work to develop new digital biomarkers based on auscultatory sound. The funding round was led by several tech investors spanning Europe and the Middle East, including those from the Netherlands, Finland, the US, Uruguay and the UAE.

Lapsi Health is working to develop new digital biomarkers based on sounds acquired by the first continuous wearable stethoscope, developed by its team in Finland. The acquired sounds have the potential to be analysed by several algorithmic methods and to be converted into biomarkers.

The new funds will be used to develop the first technological principles of its solution and to enter clinical validation trials. Specifically, the company will focus on auscultatory sound acquisition, analytics and remote patient monitoring.

Jhonatan Bringas Dimitriades, CEO at Lapsi Health and an expert in digital health and biomarkers, said: “We have been able to secure a fast investment to be able to develop solutions that are very necessary for chronic patients in several medical specialties, worldwide. This technology will represent a usage of auscultatory sound in a way that is not currently being used, creating a new generation of Digital Biomarkers.”

Lapsi Health started in the 2022 batch of Health Incubator Helsinki in April. Welcome to Health Incubator Helsinki team!

Read more in Health Tech World’s article.

Contact information:
Séamus Holohan, Chief Operating Officer, Lapsi Health
tel. +358 40 648 4534, seamus@lapsihealth.com
lapsihealth.com

Photo: Lapsi Health

Finnish health tech startup MedicubeX raised a seed round of €0.3M

Finnish health tech startup MedicubeX raised a seed round of €0.3M

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MedicubeX's eHealth station
Finnish health tech startup, Health Incubator Helsinki company MedicubeX has raised a seed round of 310.000€ to take their eHealth Station and business further.

MedicubeX is developing a self-measurement station that measures vital signs automatically and hygienically for preventive healthcare. In only a few minutes, the station collects and analyzes data on cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors using AI and sensor-guided technologies.

In April 2022, the company closed its crowdfunding investment round on Funderbeam platform totaling 250.000€. In addition, two knowledgeable business angels with competent industry expertise made an investment of 60.000€, with the same valuation and terms as Funderbeam’s closed funding round. Besides the investment, Marja Aarnio-Isohanni and Joe Hamari will  bring their experience with scalable SAAS business models and European healthcare systems to the table.

Moreover, MedicubeX announced a strategic investment from StartMore, a startup funding company committed to assisting early-stage enterprises in their growth and transforming ideas into viable businesses.

The autonomous self-measurement market in the EU is expected to reach 400 million euros by 2027.

With the current funds raised, the company can move forward with its plans to set up customer pilots in Finland and the Netherlands, develop intellectual property, begin commercial operations in the Nordics and Baltics, as well as prepare to enter the Central European market.

Congratulations from Health Incubator Helsinki team!

Read more in MedicubeX press release.

Further information:

Vili Kostamo M.D., CEO MedicubeX Oy
vili.kostamo@medicube.fi
+358 44 300 1617
www.medicubex.com

Photo: MedicubeX

Health Incubator Helsinki welcomes 9 promising health startups

Health Incubator Helsinki welcomes 9 promising health startups

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Health Incubator Helsinki's logo

Nine health and life sciences startups with great growth potential have joined the ranks of Health Incubator Helsinki, Finland’s unique health incubator program.

Health Incubator Helsinki is a long-term incubator program driving transformation of health innovation, research findings and expertise into international business, and attracting new talent and companies to Helsinki. The concept is unique in the Nordics in its focus and duration: the incubator focuses solely on health, and the program is up to three years long.

For it’s third incubator program that kickstarted in April 2022, Health Incubator Helsinki received in total 19 high-quality applications representing a wide range of health-related businesses. The majority of the applications came from Finland.

After interviews, nine startup companies were selected for the program: Corle Oy, Fepod Oy, Karsa Oy, Lapsi Health B.V, Moncyte, NADMED Oy, Olo (Nature Solutions Oy), Probiont Oy and Sonai Health Oy.

“During the selection process, we emphasised high growth potential, team dedication and high business scalability to international markets,” says Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader.

“We look forward to working with the teams to support them with their growth plans,” says Lardot.

Up to 3 years of individually tailored coaching

The nine selected startups start their journey at Health Incubator Helsinki with a two-month onboarding program. The purpose is to provide all teams with the elementary information and sufficient knowledge so that they have a good starting point to start scaling up their businesses. Trainings during the first months cover topics such as how to get funding, team building, sales, creating the pitch deck, building the business and financial plan, investment strategy, regulatory issues, and intellectual property.

Health Incubator Helsinki provides an individual approach, offering up to three years of coaching and mentoring tailored for the needs of each startup. According to the startups already in the program, most valuable aspects are getting support in securing financing, peer support, contacts with investors and access to Helsinki Metropolitan health ecosystem.

The companies are provided with modern office and co-working facilities at Terkko Health Hub in Meilahti campus area, Helsinki, in close proximity of HUS Helsinki University Hospital. Apart from a minor fee for the office space the incubator services are free for the participants, and no equity is taken.

Health startups, be in touch!

“We would like to encourage interested startups and researchers to be in touch with us as we are continuously looking for new growth companies,” says Christian Lardot.

Health Incubator Helsinki started operations with the first batch of startups in 2020. It is a part of the continuum that supports startups and research-based teams from universities and SPARK Finland to develop their health and life sciences innovations and business concepts towards becoming growth companies. The incubator is a joint effort by the City of Helsinki and University of Helsinki, and it is provided in partnership with Health Capital Helsinki.

Meet the 2022 batch of Health Incubator Helsinki startups

Corle Oy
Corle is developing a small wireless medical device for the diagnostic and monitoring purposes of sleep apnea. The patented solution is a non-invasive optical sensor for continuous medical grade health data collection from the earlobe, sending the data via Bluetooth to a mobile phone application for analysis and sharing.

Fepod Oy
Fepod’s technology enables healthcare professionals to measure the real blood concentration of paracetamol, opioids and other pain medicine directly from a drop of blood at the point-of-care. The sampling process is fast & simple and the results are available in seconds. The required equipment consists of a mobile phone, an affordable & small potentiostat and mass-producible & disposable sensors.

Karsa Oy
The Karsa chemical analysis platform eliminates laborious workflows for the analysis of small molecules. The company wants to bring this approach to the IVD market with analysis of bodily fluids.

Lapsi Health B.V
Lapsi Health is developing the new generation of digital biomarkers based on auscultatory sound. The data used as a biomarker has to be quantifiable and objective and the company’s novel technology greatly enhances its usage in medicine, relating it to the health-disease process for prognostic, diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Moncyte
Efficient lowering of blood cholesterol is pivotal in reducing the risk for heart attack and stroke, the most frequent causes of death globally. Different cholesterol-lowering drugs are available, but it is difficult to find an optimal treatment strategy for each person, resulting in suboptimal treatment and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke for many patients. The Moncyte analysis tool sheds light on why individuals respond differently to cholesterol-lowering medication. This will enable novel personalized treatment strategies, helping more patients to achieve their blood cholesterol target levels and reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

NADMED Oy

The biology and key role of NAD molecules in human metabolism has been well known for decades, but measuring them has been devilishly difficult. NADMED has now brought to market an accurate, fast, scalable, and well protected method to do just that. The assay enables research in large human cohorts, leading to a rapidly increasing number of clinical applications. NADMED already services clinical practitioners, researchers and drug development companies.

Olo (by Nature Solutions Oy)

Olo empowers mindful exploration of self, community, and nature through personalized digital experiential learning that incorporates immersive listening and embodiment practice with real-time biofeedback and community support in a mobile app experience. Built on the foundation of neuroscience research and AI-powered technology, Olo’s app uniquely responds to the prolific mental health and stress management needs of each individual user.

Probiont Oy
Probiont Oy is developing a personalized solution for cancer therapy efficacy assessment. The organ-on-a-chip platform is purposed to enable rapid screening of cancer immunotherapeutics, for early identification of effective treatment strategies for individual patients.

Sonai Health Oy develops a new solution for heart diagnosis, utilising patented sensor solution, cloud service and machine learning.

Contact information
Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader
Tel. +358 40 195 2639
christian.lardot@hel.fi

About Health Incubator Helsinki
Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and startups operating in the health sector. The incubator, initiated by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki, and operating in close co-operation with Health Capital Helsinki, started operations in 2020. There are now 32 health startups participating in the incubator programs.

About Health Capital Helsinki
Health Capital Helsinki is building the greatest health capital by developing the Helsinki Metropolitan health ecosystem, boosting the growth of innovation-driven startups and helping international investors and corporations find their opportunities and partners in Finland. healthcapitalhelsinki.fi

Finnish Organ-On-Chip startup Finnadvance raises a €1.2 million seed funding round

Finnish Organ-On-Chip startup Finnadvance raises a €1.2 million seed funding round

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Group of people posing for a picture.

Finnish Organ-On-Chip startup Finnadvance has secured a €1.2 million seed financing round led by Finnish investor Athensmed. Several existing investors, such as deep tech VC Voima Ventures and early-stage VC Icebreaker, are participating in the funding round. In addition, the funding also includes a new investor, Takoa Invest.

Finnadvance is a biotechnology startup from Oulu, Finland. The 3-year-old company develops platforms which recreate tissue models with microfluidic flow patterning and hydrogel coatings. These models simulate tissue and organ function, mechanics and physiological response, simulating human organs in miniature.

“Our technology allows for more human-like preclinical drug testing, fast repurposing of old drugs and, in the long term, development of personalized therapies and medicines,” states Finnadvance’s CEO Prateek Singh.

Finnadvance is participating in the Health Incubator Helsinki program since 2021.

Expanding to foreign markets

The €1.2 million funding round will greatly help the company in expanding their operations to foreign markets. With commercial activities in South Korea and Europe, Finnadvance is now heading to the US market. The company has received numerous EU and National funded grants to accelerate product research and development, and are now rapidly scaling their team.

“Finnadvance’s industry ready tissue modeling platform accelerates scientific and commercial drug research and brings remarkable savings in both cost and time. Prateek and his team have done an amazing job to bring this technology from an idea to a product. The IPR is also truly impressive”, explains Kustaa Piha, the CEO of Athensmed.

Warm congratulations to the Finnadvance team!

Read more about Finnadvance.

Contact information:

Joel Noutere, Customer Success Manager, Finnadvance Oy
+358 45 12 77 301, joel@finnadvance.com
www.finnadvance.com

Finnadvance's logo

Photo: Finnadvance 

Finnish health tech startup MedicubeX raised a seed round of €0.3M

MedicubeX is fundraising to produce automated self-measurement stations

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MedicubeX's eHealth station

The Finnish healthtech company MedicubeX has developed a self-measurement station automatically and hygienically measuring vital signs for preventive healthcare. Based on AI and sensor guided technology the station collects and analyzes data on the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in just a few minutes. MedicubeX, a Health Incubator Helsinki company, is currently fundraising to start and expand commercial operations in Europe.

The self-measurement station marketed under the name Medicube X™ eHealth Station is built on the platform of Framery known for their soundproof space solutions. Hygienic conditions are ensured with an automated UV-light based disinfection solution from Signify. The station is the only self-disinfecting and thus the safest solution on the market for the user. The station can be used fully autonomously without any assistance or guidance from healthcare personnel. 

For the autonomous measurement of vital signs, the newest medical devices integrated into a single modular platform are used. Everything is operated through a single user interface with a data connection to patient information systems and an option for remote appointments with a doctor.

“The station can autonomously measure blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, body temperature, body composition and arterial stiffness. Heart arrythmias can be detected with an automated analysis. In the future we can add on predictions for other diseases as well, such as skin or lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease,” says the CEO and co-founder of MedicubeX, Vili Kostamo M.D.

The Medicube X™ station can help in preventive healthcare because it enables the screening and follow-ups of elevated cardiovascular disease and diabetes risks. The health data collected is automatically entered into patient information systems and can be used to make medical treatment decisions and to support self-care.

”Our goal is to take care of the health of people and prevent expensive non-communicable diseases. According to some studies up to 80–90 per cent of serious cardiovascular diseases could be prevented if the risks were detected early,” Kostamo says.

MedicubeX is seeking investors with a valuation of 1.6 million euros

MedicubeX is owned nearly entirely by its founders Vili Kostamo and Heikki Rautajoki. Investors are offered shares with a pre-money valuation of 1.6 million euros. The funding round is organized by Funderbeam.

The goal is to raise up to €540,000 of capital to start customer pilots in Finland and the Netherlands and to start up commercial operations in the Nordic countries and the Baltics. Before the round, continuing until 6 April, went public on 3 March, €200,000 were already raised from private investors.

The company aims to patent a cardiovascular disease risk index. The index is based on multiple measurements predicting disease risks including a novel AGE-measurement from skin.

Preventing diseases in a scalable, cost-effective way

High growth is expected for the highly automated, self-disinfecting self-measurement station as there are no equivalent solutions available in Europe. Ease of use and cost-effectiveness are core competitive advantages.

“From the perspective of disease prevention repeated blood tests and physical examinations are too expensive and complicated. Some people are afraid of needles which raises the barrier of risk analysis even further. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the deficit of healthcare resources worse and the overstrained healthcare systems cannot meet demand. In this new situation the importance of autonomous, preventive healthcare is highlighted,” Kostamo believes.

“Healthcare service systems in Europe are facing a turning point. The autonomous self-measurement concept and business model developed by MedicubeX are a brave approach to preventing diseases in a cost-effective way. A European network of eHealth stations and automated data-analytics enable scalable health benefits and great commercial potential,” describes the market development Thomas Lundström, Director of consulting company Knowit Insight who invested in the company.

“The state of health and its real time tracking are constantly becoming more important. A person can use the MedicubeX solution to safely make measurements which have so far needed an appointment with a doctor. For example, in the prevention of type 2 diabetes measurements are crucial. The period following COVID-19 will further globally reinforce the growth of the self-measurement market. MedicubeX has the strong makings of a breakthrough,” believes Stefan Haglund, a partner of the investment company StartMore.  

MedicubeX estimates the market of autonomous self-measurement to reach approximately €400 million in the EU by 2027.

Read more about MedicubeX.

Further information:

Vili Kostamo M.D., CEO MedicubeX Oy
vili.kostamo@medicube.fi
+358443001617

Jaanika Merilo, Head of PR & Communications, Funderbeam
jaanika.merilo@funderbeam.com
+3725131345

MedicubeX's logo

Medicubex Ltd is a Finnish innovation-driven startup company founded in 2020 for the development and sales of smart self-service solutions for healthcare and communities. They aim to provide fast, clinical grade health measurements and cost-effective tools for early detection of diseases with a quick, accessible approach through the MedicubeX eHealth stations.

Funderbeam is a global equity funding and trading platform. They connect a diverse investor network with highly vetted growth companies across international markets and, through The Marketplace, allow private investments to be traded.

Photos: MedicubeX

Mindler acquires Health Incubator Helsinki company Medified to improve digital treatment solutions in mental health care

Mindler acquires Health Incubator Helsinki company Medified to improve digital treatment solutions in mental health care

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 Medified's mobile app

Swedish Mindler, one of Europe’s leading mental health treatment platforms, has announced the acquisition of Finnish health tech startup Medified Solutions Oy. Medified was founded by medical students in 2019 and has developed and clinically implemented a digital mental health treatment monitoring software.

Mindler acquires the CE-certified medical product Medified as well as its team of software and business developers. Medified will be an integral component to Mindler’s platform and psychologists work enabling a more data-driven approach for treatment planning, mental health assessment, monitoring, and operative support as well as treatment outcome evaluation. Mindler currently operates in Sweden, France, the Netherlands and the UK.

Medified’s unique data sources provide mental health care with the objective data needed for the measurement of clinically validated treatment outcomes and the creation of valuable patient-centric tools for professionals to utilize in the treatment decision processes and assessment of patients’ recovery.

“The entire Medified team is super excited to join the Mindler family. The announcement means we have the opportunity to take what we’ve built and learned at Medified to ramp up our impact to a whole new level with Mindler”, says Valtteri Korkiakoski, CEO of Medified.

“Solving global mental health challenges requires ambition and innovation. Now together with Mindler I believe that transforming mental healthcare is one step closer.”

From founding the startup to acquisition in 1,000 days

Medified joined Health Incubator Helsinki in the first batch of startups in 2020. The company advanced from founding to acquisition phase in 1,000 days, which is an amazing achievement.

“The Medified team has done an outstanding job in building their company with a dedication and clear focus in mind from the start. I am glad to see that – through the acquisition by Mindler – they will get new resources that enables the scaling of their concept internationally,” says Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader.

Warm congratulations to the whole Medified team and all the best on your journey ahead!

Read the acquisition news in Medtech News and Talouselämä (in Finnish).

Read our previous article on Medified.

For more information contact:
Krista Ehrnrooth
Krista.ehrnrooth@mindler.se
+358 40 562 7364

Photo: Medified

Study: Online coaching is a good addition to maternity clinic’s offering

Study: Online coaching is a good addition to maternity clinic’s offering

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Two adults and three children posing for a camera.

A study conducted by Health Incubator Helsinki company Nordic Fit Mama, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and the Ouluhealth Lab finds online coaching an excellent tool in post-partum rehabilitation. Digital coaching was praised by both participating mothers and nurses.

The study, testing the Nordic Fit Mama online postnatal programme, was carried out at the Kaakkuri Wellness Center in Oulu, Finland, in the autumn of 2021.  Both mothers and nurses saw digital coaching as a well-functioning solution for mothers recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. The Nordic Fit Mama online program focuses on rehabilitation of the core and pelvic floor muscles. It also includes guidance on mental health maintenance and tools to cope in the new life situation.

Easily accessible and cost effective digital coaching can effectively improve the health of new mothers – and reduce healthcare workload

According to the nurses involved in the study, an easily accessible online coaching is a good addition to maternity clinic’s offering. They believe it can effectively improve the health and well-being of mothers and families and reduce the workload on nurses at the clinic. The nurses reported that mothers were excited about the new service.

The participating mothers praised the coaching for clear and professional instructions and the ease-of-use of the platform. Nurses said they had also benefited from the training themselves, by getting more information about postnatal rehabilitation. They hoped to receive more coaching in the future.

“It would be great to get more advice, tips and tools like this, to be offered at the clinic to new mothers,” says one nurse.

In general, the experiment was considered as a success and a promising opportunity for healthcare.

Experience from helping 20,000 new mothers

Founded in 2017, Nordic Fit Mama has already helped 20,000 mothers to recover safely from childbirth. The feedback from mothers has been almost invariably excellent. Many mothers return to the program after a new pregnancy.

Over the past five years, Nordic Fit Mama has gathered a lot of valuable information about new mothers and their needs and desires. The information is used to develop the service that helps in the delicate and unique phase of new motherhood in the best possible way.

“Studies have shown that digital services have great potential in public healthcare. We would like to see this development to be a little faster so that no mother is left alone with problems for which there is a solution,” says Riina Laaksonen, the founder of Nordic Fit Mama.

Read an article about Nordic Fit Mama

More information:
Riina Laaksonen, CEO, Nordic Fit Mama, tel. +358 40 180 1535, riina@nordicfitmama.fi
www.nordicfitmama.fi

Photo: Nordic Fit Mama

Helsinki’s long-term health incubator seeks promising startups

Helsinki’s long-term health incubator seeks promising startups

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Team members of Phonolyser

Health Incubator Helsinki is a long-term, customised business incubator program for research-based growth companies operating in the health sector. This is the third time that the program is seeking new, promising startups. Health Incubator Helsinki is open for applications until 31 March, and approximately ten teams will be selected for the program starting in April.

Finland is renowned for its excellent healthcare system, high-quality medical and pharmaceutical research and exceptionally extensive and diverse health data. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area is home to a progressive health ecosystem consisting of various research universities, hospitals, companies and organisations operating in the sector. There are also close to 100 health sector startups operating within the area’s active startup community. The Helsinki region truly is a unique development environment for companies that develop products or services based on health data to cater to the needs of healthcare professionals.

Health Incubator Helsinki helps commercialise research innovations

Health Incubator Helsinki was established in 2020 to boost the commercialisation and growth of research innovations towards successful business operations. On an international scale, the incubator program is long-term – it lasts up to three years – and it provides the participating companies with expert mentoring, networks and peer support.

“The program is customised based on the individual needs of each selected team. We can help, for example, with concept development and piloting as well as gaining access to financing and the market. We have an extensive network and we like to bring together various operators,” says Christian Lardot, Incubator Leader at Health Incubator Helsinki.

Currently there are 23 startups, almost all of which have their roots in university research, that are developing their business operations in the incubator, located in the Meilahti Hospital area in close proximity of HUS Helsinki University Hospital. With the exception of an office facility fee, the incubator program is free-of-charge for the participants, and both Finnish and international startup teams are encouraged to apply. Health Incubator Helsinki is a joint effort of the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki, and it cooperates with Health Capital Helsinki, an alliance focused on developing the ecosystem.

First-program startups raised significant financing

The first results of Health Incubator Helsinki are encouraging, to say the least. The 11 startups that started in the first program raised in total EUR 8 million in funding in 2021. The sum includes both private direct investments and grants.

Uute Scientific Oy started in the first incubator program in 2020. The company has developed a microbial extract called Reconnecting Nature™, containing microbes from forests that enhance the human immune system. The extract can be used, for example, in cosmetics or textiles. The company recently announced that it has received an additional EUR 1.2 million in funding to accelerate its operations.

“Health Incubator Helsinki’s business advisors listen to the individual needs of companies and react to them by organising relevant training and meetings with investors. This together with the flexible office facilities have given us an excellent opportunity to focus on growing our business,” says Kari Sinivuori, CEO of Uute Scientific Oy.

Last autumn, Phonolyser Oy, a company that started in the second incubator program in 2021, won the world’s largest health technology event MEDICA’s startup competition with its innovation that detects congenital heart disease in infants quickly and cost-efficiently. The entire Phonolyser team relocated to Finland from abroad after having been selected for the program and established their company in Helsinki.

“Health Incubator Helsinki team is ‘all-in’ when it comes to supporting, promoting and mentorship. It’s like a family: they are always there when we need them. Business premises and good location within the HUS Helsinki University Hospital is the least you can expect,” says Bahman Doaeian, CBO of Phonolyser.

Team of Uute Scientific, six people posing for a picture.

The Uute Scientific Co-Founders from left: Olli Laitinen, Rita Nordin, Oliver Boldt, Kari Sinivuori, Heikki Hyöty and Aki Sinkkonen. Image: Uute Scientific

In search of ground-breaking innovations and persistent teams

The application period for the third incubator program is 7 February–31 March 2022. Candidates selected from among the applications will be invited to interview. Approximately 10–12 teams will be selected for the program starting in April 2022.

“During the application process, we will assess whether there is a market for the company’s innovation, service or product. Is the company involved in creating something new or improving existing solutions? One of the key factors we are looking for is dedication and perseverance of team members,” says Lardot.

For more information, please contact:

Click here to apply by 31 March

Contact information:
Christian Lardot, Incubator Leader, tel. 040 195 2639, christian.lardot@hel.fi

Caption: An innovative device developed by the Helsinki-based company Phonolyser detects congenital heart disease in infants by combining AI with data produced by three different sensors. Team members from the left: Sanaz Naderi, Markus Tuukkanen, Jalmari Talola, Javad Maleki, Farnaz Farahdel and Bahman Doaeian. Image: Roope Permanto

Finnish and Estonian health tech startups showcased their high-level innovation

Finnish and Estonian health tech startups showcased their high-level innovation

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Banner of Finnish-Estonian Health Economy Demo Day

Finnish-Estonian Health Economy Demo Day brought together investors, startups and health ecosystem players from the cross-border region to hear the pitches of eight promising health tech startups. The investor jury awarded Phonolyser (FIN) and Neurosalience (EST) as winners, and praised the high quality of the pitching companies. 

The Health Economy Demo Day, organised in December 2021 for the second time by Health Incubator Helsinki and Health Founders from Tallinn, aims to bring Finnish and Estonian health innovation ecosystems closer together and give investors a view of the region’s most promising early-stage health tech startups at one glance. Read more about the event here.

In the event, eight high-potential startups pitched their innovation: AnalysisModeCardiomtecHenkaus and Phonolyser from Finland, and DermtestNanordica MedicalNeurosalience and .life from Estonia.

In addition, the nearly 130 registrees had the opportunity to follow a panel discussion with investors Shinichi Nikkuni (NordicNinja VC) and Ed Deng (Verge HealthTech Fund), moderated by Health Founders’ Erki Mölder.

Interested in the pitches or the panel discussion? View the event recording here.

Phonolyser and Neurosalience for the win

After Q&A with each company, the jury chose Phonolyser (FIN) and Neurosalience (EST) as the two winners. The active, esteemed jury consisted of four investors: Juha Lindfors (Lifeline Ventures), Marko Kuisma (Courage Ventures Funds), Scarlett Chen (Prudential Corporation Asia) and Andrus Oks (Tera Ventures).

Congratulations to the winners of the event:

Banner of Finnish-Estonian Health Economy Demo Day with winners' logos.

Neurosalience, pitched by Co-Founder, CEO Ksenia Sokolova, is a tool for early detection of dementia from structural MRI and CT data capable of processing even low-resolution MRI data and CT scans.

“We at Neurosalience were pleasantly surprised that we won the award. The Demo Day was a great experience and also extremely useful for us as Neurosaliance received great traction and many new connections. The event would definitely benefit us as we are preparing for the first investment round”, says Ksenia Sokolova, Neurosalience.

Phonolyser, pitched by CBO Bahman Doaeian, is a smart heart sound analyzer that combines AI (signal processing and analyzing), doppler-technology, and sound analysis to comprehensively assess and investigate the existence of CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) on children.

“Saving children with heart disease is our goal and we are thankful for providing us with a platform that helps reach this cause,” comments Bahman Doaeian, Phonolyser.

Great health tech pioneering work in Finland and Estonia

The investor juri was pleased to see the high overall quality of the pitching companies. Access to capital and support are defining factors on the journey ahead for the companies.

“There’s a lot of pioneering work going on both in Finland and Estonia in digital health and health tech, and that was really reflected in the presenting companies. Access to dedicated capital and support from experienced entrepreneurs will be important to capitalize on the great development done so far in these companies,” says Marko Kuisma, Courage Ventures Funds.

 “Health Founders and Health Capital Helsinki teams did a great job selecting the high calibre companies and preparing each for the pitch,” adds Scarlett Chen, Prudential Corporation Asia.

Thank you to the startups, jury, speakers, and participating investors and audience for tuning in and making the event a success. The collaboration between Helsinki Metropolitan region and Tallinn health ecosystems continues, and we welcome everyone onboard.

Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and startups operating in the health sector. The program is currently a home for 24 promising teams.

Health Founders is the first health economy accelerator in the Baltics with a mission to launch 100 new health tech companies over the next 10 years. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, the unique program brings together ambitious founders, experienced mentors and forward-looking industry partners to build the future of health.

The Finnish science based Uute Scientific Oy has completed a financing round of 1.2 million euros

The Finnish science based Uute Scientific Oy has completed a financing round of 1.2 million euros

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Uute Scientific's team

Health Incubator Helsinki startup from batch of 2020, Uute Scientific Oy, has completed a financing round of 1.2 million euros. The main investor in the additional financing round was Butterfly Ventures, which had previously invested in the company. Also, Tesi (Finnish Industry Investment Ltd) and earlier shareholders participated in it. With the new capital, the company aims for even faster growth and development.

“Uute Scientific has a strong technology- and research background from the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere, as well as a good IP base. The team is really good. In addition, the speed with which Uute Scientific has been able to acquire paying customers has surprised us positively several times. Uute Scientific Oy is clearly one of our portfolio companies of which we expect a really big success story. Additional investments in Uute Scientific have been in our investment plans for some time. For these reasons, the additional investment was an easy solution,” says Juho Risku, Butterfly Ventures Oy’s Co-Founder and Partner.

“Currently, about 500 million people suffer from immune-mediated diseases such as allergies, celiac disease and type 1 diabetes. This is due to urbanization and the fact that there is no longer exposure to nature’s diverse microbes. We believe that it is better to prevent these diseases than to treat the symptoms,” says Kari Sinivuori, CEO of Uute Scientific Oy.

“We currently have 10 customers who have brought about 30 consumer products to the Finnish and UK markets. In addition, we have delivered test batches to Germany and Spain. We have very strong scientific support for our patented raw material, and this additional round of funding guarantees us the opportunity for various development projects with international consumer goods giants. At the same time, we are looking towards 2023, aiming for an IPO,” Sinivuori continues.

More information:

Kari Sinivuori, Uute Scientific Oy, CEO, Chairman of the Board
kari.sinivuori@uutescientific.com +358 50 386 0444

Juho Risku, Butterfly Ventures Oy, Co-Founder, Partner
juho@butterfly.vc, +358 40 557 4004

 

Uute Scientific Oy manufactures a microbial extract that corresponds to the microbial community found in a rich forest and nature. Our raw material is researched and safe to use. When added as a raw material to various consumer products, such as cosmetics or textiles, natural exposure can be introduced into everyday life even when it is not possible in an urban environment. Environmental exposure is essential for the immune system to be able to train itself and maintain its operations. Uute Scientific Oy was established in accordance with the rules and processes of commercialization used at the University of Helsinki. The company’s trademark is Reconnecting Nature™. www.uutescientific.com

Butterfly Ventures is one of the leading seed stage venture capital companies in the Nordic countries focused on deep technology and hardware innovation. Butterfly Ventures was founded in 2012 and has offices in Helsinki, Oulu, Stockholm and Tallinn. The Butterfly Ventures team has solid experience in seed stage investments through more than 80 companies and more than 200 investment rounds. www.butterfly.vc

Tesi (Finnish Industry Investment Ltd) is a state-owned investment company that wants to raise Finland to the front ranks of transformative economic growth by investing in funds and directly in companies. We invest profitably and responsibly, hand-in-hand with co-investors, to create the world’s new success stories. Our investments under management total 2.1 billion euros. Our investment in Uute Scientific was made from the Venture Bridge special investment programme. www.tesi.fi

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year 2022

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year 2022

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Health Incubator Helsinki team wants to thank the driven startups within our incubator program and all collaboration partners for a great, active year! 

Wishing you a happy and relaxing holiday season and all the best for the year ahead!🌟🎄

New angel investor for femtech company Nordic Fit Mama

New angel investor for femtech company Nordic Fit Mama

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Two women doing workout with a baby.

A recent survey by Health Capital Helsinki shows that access to funding is by far the biggest challenge for healthcare startups. Most of the responding companies need funding immediately or within a year. Health Incubator Helsinki startup Nordic Fit Mama shares what their angel investors looked for when investing. 

Nordic Fit Mama is a digital company founded by Ms. Riina Laaksonen that focuses on the well-being of mothers. In August 2021, Ms. Saana Ahonen, an angel investor focusing on responsibility and impact investments, joined the financiers of the underlying Nordic Wellness Group. Kustaa Piha, a medical doctor and serial entrepreneur who invests in digital health has been involved since 2019.

According to Ms. Laaksonen, Saana Ahonen joined the Nordic Fit Mama investors because of the company’s solvency, interesting growth prospects both in Finland and internationally, and it’s business idea: making women’s health services available to everyone.

Ahonen, who has worked e.g. in Uganda, is particularly committed to promoting gender equality. According to Ahonen, all mothers in the world should have the right to quality health care. Cost-effective and location-independent digital services are a good solution for this. Nordic Fit Mama has developed into an expert not only in womens’ well-being but also in digital services, whose expertise is internationally commissioned.

The company’s team consists of women and mothers of all ages, so there is a passion for mothers’ well-being, health, and equality. Passion and ambition are things that Kustaa Piha paid attention to when considering the investment decision. According to him, it is also important that there is evidence that results have been achieved.

“When I talk to investors, the first thing I always say is that I’m not primarily interested in money. The money comes and goes, the investor stays, so it is important that they share the same key values and goals,” says Laaksonen. 

“Internationalization requires a solid financial base. We are able to offer the opportunity to take Finnish excellence in maternal health care to the growing digital services market,” Laaksonen adds.

In addition to angel investors, Nordic Fit Mama has received funding from Business Finland, the Finnish government organization for innovation funding and trade, travel and investment promotion, and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY).

Read more about Nordic Fit Mama here.

Contact information:

Riina Laaksonen
riina@nordicfitmama.fi
tel. +358 40 180 1535
www.nordicfitmama.fi

Nordic Fitmama's logo

Photos: Nordic Fit Mama

Finnish and Estonian health tech startups showcased their high-level innovation

Health Economy Demo Day showcases promising startups from the Finnish-Estonian health innovation ecosystem

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Banner of Finnish-Estonian Health Economy Demo Day

Following a successful first Demo Day in January 2021, Health Founders from Tallinn and Health Incubator Helsinki are joining forces again to give 8 bright startups a floor to present their groundbreaking solutions in order to ease and prevent the healthcare burden. Welcome to join the free online event on 15 December (14:00-17:00 EET)!

Health Economy Demo Day, taking place online on 15 December 2021, will showcase promising healthtech startups from Finland and Estonia. The event welcomes investors, startups, health enthusiasts and ecosystem players to tune in, learn more from the startups’ solutions and support the startups to reach new levels towards offering relief to patients and healthcare providers.

Register for the free event here.

“The event is one stepping stone in building a strong, international, Finnish-Estonian health innovation community. When competing in global markets, increasing the cross-border collaboration in the FinEst Bay Area is really important. With this event, we want to offer investors a focused view on the region’s health tech startup scene at one glance, as well as bring the startups from both countries closer together”, says Senior Business Advisor Lauri Kuronen from Health Incubator Helsinki.

“The startup teams have grown remarkably within the last 9 months since they started the Health Founders accelerator programme, and we’re extremely proud of them. This event is a unique concept that brings together the gems of Estonian and Finnish health ecosystem. We are seeing more and more investors searching for suitable investment opportunities – and they can find them in this event”, adds Founding Partner of Health Founders, Erki Mölder.

Meet the eight promising startups pitching on Health Economy Demo Day

Banner with logos and pictures of company representatives.

Nanordica Medical (EST)
Nanordica Medical has invented and patented a nanoformula enabling it to develop 8x more efficient antibacterial products compared to the existing market alternatives.

Phonolyser (FIN)
Phonolyser has developed a smart heart sound analyzer that combines AI (signal processing and analyzing), doppler-technology, and sound analysis to comprehensively assess and investigate the existence of congenital heart diseases on newborns and babies.

.life (EST)
.life is developing a unique AI-powered psychology-based application, which aim is to help those who are under constant time pressure and experience lack of balance as well as those who are in the middle of a burnout or are dealing with mental health problems.

Cardiomtec (FIN)
Cardiomtec is making whistleblower software for the heart, making early identification of cardiac issues possible through a device that measures and analyzes the activity of the heart using an ECG signal.

Banner with logos and pictures of company representatives.

AnalysisMode (FIN)
AnalysisMode is an AI platform for Biotech R&D empowering scientists to yield 5x more results. From predictive analytics to designing lab experiments, AI steers the R&D
towards success.

Neurosalience (EST)
Neurosalience is a tool for early detection of dementia from structural MRI and CT data capable of processing even low-resolution MRI data and CT scans.

Henkaus (FIN)
Henkaus provides medical grade vital signs measuring solutions for remote patient care. Our trustworthy measurements can be used for diagnosis by medical professionals and service providers.

Dermtest (EST)
Dermtest is a digital toolbox for skin and wound care. Dermtest includes an app for capturing skin problems or wounds at home as well as empowers local doctors and family physicians to provide early access to suspicious mole check-ups.

Boosting motivation and providing investor contacts

Migrevention (EST) was selected as one of two winners in the previous Health Economy Demo Day, held at the beginning of 2021. Demo Day provided the company investor contacts and motivation. 

“At that time, we were a less than a year old pre-product/market company. As of now, we have brought part of our digital headache clinic and a simple digital headache diary with headache nurse support to the market and found a product-market fit in Estonia. We certainly got a great motivational boost to go further with our development from the Demo Day along with several investor contacts which led us to our recent pre-seed investment. The FinEst Health Economy Demo Day is a great and distinct event to get a glimpse of Estonian and Finnish novel healthcare innovation”, says Katrina Laks, CEO of Migrevention.

About Health Incubator Helsinki
Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and startups operating in the health sector. The program is currently a home for 24 promising teams.

About Health Founders
Health Founders is the first health economy accelerator in the Baltics with a mission to launch 100 new health tech companies over the next 10 years. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, the unique program brings together ambitious founders, experienced mentors and forward-looking industry partners to build the future of health.

Uute Scientific is attracting global cosmetic brands

Uute Scientific is attracting global cosmetic brands

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Uute Scientific's product picture

A growing number of companies have noticed the potential of microbial extract developed by a Health Incubator Helsinki startup Uute Scientific. The world’s largest cosmetic brands also want to get their hands on the innovative extract.

Health Incubator Helsinki startup Uute Scientific is gaining more and more ground with their nature-based microbial extract, Reconnecting Nature™. Recently, 11 companies have expressed their interest in the company’s scientifically proven innovation that is developed to boost the immune system of both people and domestic animals. For Uute Scientific, this news is particularly exciting as these potential customers are among the top 20 largest cosmetic brands in the world.

The Health Incubator Helsinki company has its roots in the universities of Tampere and Helsinki. The immune-boosting extract – mixed by hand in Lohja, Finland – can currently be found in various consumer products ranging from cosmetics to textiles and toys.

Read more about Uute Scientific’s plans for the future and the manufacturing process of Reconnecting Nature™ in an article, published by Tekniikka & Talous (in Finnish) here.

Photo: Uute Scientific

Finnish health startups show great growth potential – funding is urgently needed

Finnish health startups show great growth potential – funding is urgently needed

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Health Capital Helsinki's opening event.

Finland offers great potential for investors looking for new health innovations. According to a survey commissioned by Health Capital Helsinki, Finnish health startups are facing urgent need for funding.

There are approximately 400 health startups in Finland, a quarter of them located in the Helsinki Metropolitan area. Health Capital Helsinki, in collaboration with Upgraded, conducted a survey on Finnish health startups of their current needs and challenges.

According to the survey, the most critical and urgent need lies in raising funding. Most of the startups say that they need funding immediately (42%) or within a year (42%). Other significant needs mentioned in the survey include support for sales and marketing, and finding reference and pilot customers.

Health startups also have recruitment needs. Within a year, 75% of the startups plan to hire salespeople, 67% plan to hire R&D or technical specialists, and 47% plan to hire marketing specialists.

“Securing funding and finding a strategic funding partner in the early stage is vital for a health startup. Healthcare innovations take years to develop, testing and validation is complex and slow, but once you get there, the opportunities are huge,” says Juha Paakkola, Director of Health Capital Helsinki.

“Finland produces great research- and science-based innovative startups, but as a small country the health-focused funding resources are limited. Therefore, connecting innovative startups with health-specialised international investors is a key priority for Health Capital Helsinki,” Paakkola adds.

Public procurement and finding the right investors seen as bottlenecks

The majority of interviewed startups voiced that innovative businesses are well-supported in Finland. Crucial information needed, for instance, about regulatory compliance, is easily accessible and well laid out. Various grants and loans from Business Finland, as well as targeted activities in the Uusimaa region, are also strongly appreciated by the interviewed companies.

According to the interviewed companies, challenging areas include the slow timeline and lack of transparency in public procurement, as well as finding the right investors. From supporting organisations such as Health Capital Helsinki, companies are mostly looking for tailor-made introductions and connections to relevant parties.

Startup entrepreneurs at Slush.

Demand in digital health demand and leaps taken in biotech create great opportunities for Finnish companies

Growth funding raised by Finnish startups has been constantly increasing in recent years. In terms of funding, it is estimated that 2021 will mark a record-breaking year in the Finnish startup ecosystem. Statistics show that in 2020, Finland had the highest share of venture capital as a percentage of GDP compared to any other European country.

positive trend in growth funding is also visible in the healthcare sector: in 2020, private investments in health startups in the Helsinki Metropolitan area almost tripled, compared to 2019.* Healthcare was also the most attractive sector for Finnish angel investors in 2020.

This year, Finnish health companies raising significant international funding include Oura (83 MEUR), Aiforia (30 MEUR) and Finnish-origin Meru Health (38 MUSD), currently mainly operating in the US. Health companies that have gone public in 2021 include Nightingale Health, Modulight and Bioretec. Mobidiag was acquired by US-based Hologic, Inc with a 668 MEUR deal.

“The COVID-19 pandemic created an unforeseen demand in digital health, and together with giant leaps taken in biotech, there are now very interesting market opportunities for Finnish companies”, Juha Paakkola says.

*Statistics of FiBAN and Finnish Venture Capital Association

Laptop

Connecting startups with investors and corporations

One of the main focus areas of Health Capital Helsinki is to match the right startups with the right investors and corporations at the right time. An example of this is the Finnish Health & Life Science Research Showcase to Investors 2020 event that introduced 26 promising research projects from Finnish universities to almost 40 investors. The event is organised again in December 2021.

Another example is the Nordic Big Pharma Reverse Pitching Event, organised in September 2021, giving over 100 startups the possibility to connect with three global pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the Health Capital Helsinki team organises tailored one-on-one introductions when suitable matches are found.

Health Incubator Helsinki, a comprehensive incubator program for health startups launched in 2020, is currently supporting 24 startups and research teams, with Health Capital Helsinki actively involved. Health Capital Helsinki is also connecting key ecosystem stakeholders and building up a stronger and forward-looking health community in the Helsinki region.

About the survey
Health Capital Helsinki studied the needs and challenges of Finnish health startups in June-August 2021. The survey was conducted by Upgraded, the association of Finnish health startups, under the supervision and support of Health Capital Helsinki. Data was gathered from C-level executives of health and wellbeing startups by means of a questionnaire and in-depth interviews. The questionnaire was sent to roughly 200 health startups; 57 unique responses were received. In addition, 10 executives were interviewed to develop a deeper understanding of the issues raised in the questionnaire. The main target audience was companies in the Uusimaa region but not limited to it.

About Health Capital Helsinki
Health Capital Helsinki is building the greatest health capital by developing the Helsinki Metropolitan health ecosystem, boosting the growth of innovation-driven startups, and helping international investors and corporations find their opportunities and partners in Finland. Health Capital Helsinki is your guide to the capital region and Finland. We’re supported by a public alliance of the largest cities, hospitals and educational institutions in Finland: Cities of Helsinki and Espoo, HUS Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and Helsinki Metropolitan Universities of Applied Sciences Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia.
www.healthcapitalhelsinki.fi

Photos: Keksi Agency / City of Helsinki

Phonolyser is the winner of the MEDICA 2021 Startup Competition

Phonolyser is the winner of the MEDICA 2021 Startup Competition

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The winners of MEDICA Startup Competition 2021.

More than 250 startups from all over the world took part in the 10th MEDICA Startup Competition with their solutions in AI in healthcare, health apps and robotics. The main prize in the Medical Startups category went to Health Incubator Helsinki company Phonolyser.

Helsinki-based medical startup Phonolyser has a good reason to celebrate. The company has just won the Medical Startups category of the MEDICA Startup Competition 2021, held in Düsseldorf, Germany, with their smart heart sound analyzer. MEDICA is the world’s leading event in the medical sector.

Bahman Doaeian, Chief Business Officer at Phonolyser sees the achievement as a remarkable step in his company’s mission of safeguarding infants’ health and wellbeing.

“We believe this is just the beginning of our journey. By this achievement, we have shown that there is a huge potential to improve people’s lives and save children in a meaningful way. Our partners also know that by helping us, we can achieve this ambitious target together”, he says.

Phonolyser is one of the promising health startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021. The company’s solution combines AI, doppler-technology, and sound analysis to identify and diagnose Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) on newborns and children more effectively and faster than ever before.

Huge congratulations to the Phonolyser team!

Read our article on Phonolyser here.

In the photo, the winners of MEDICA Startup Competition 2021. Photo: Przemek Grzywa

Trialwell connects people and researchers for a clinical trial win-win

Trialwell connects people and researchers for a clinical trial win-win

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Two people posing for the camera.

To improve their quality of life, lots of people would benefit from access to clinical trials. At the same time, researchers setting up clinical trials are usually hard-pressed to find enough participants. Could the solution lie in building a bridge between the people and the researchers? Let’s meet Trialwell, one of the startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Trialwell is a new startup that wants to support the citizen’s health and wellbeing, connecting him/her with clinical trials and studies that match the person’s health profile. This service is provided free of charge to the citizen.

Laura Holland, CEO and co-founder of Trialwell, explains that the startup intends to grow a user population of people from a broad demographic who want to be part of research.

“We’re zeroing in on those people who are actively on the look-out for health and wellbeing solutions.”

AI finding candidates for trials

The startup specialises in clinical trials and studies, simplifying the entire process to give people full access to all treatment options, says Holland.

“Our platform will use AI technology to find pre-screened candidates by matching inclusion and exclusion criteria with our user health profiles,” she explains.

Research featured on Trialwell has the power to make significant contributions to people living with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, stress induced illnesses…

Furthermore, Trialwell’s databases are encrypted and GDPR compliant.

“All data is stored within the EU,” adds Holland.

Health Incubator Helsinki's logo

Laura Holland

End to trial recruitment woes?

For the science community, Trialwell should bring welcome relief, providing research recruitment that’s both inexpensive and convenient. With Trialwell, the research teams only pay for every successfully matched candidate, allowing them to focus on the research itself.

“Studies suggest that over 80% of clinical trials fail to recruit in time which poses a big problem. Due to these issues, as much as 40% of the over-all research budget goes to recruiting which is way too much,” Holland says.

Trialwell has already built a collaboration network that features, so far, eight UK universities.

Free access to treatments, therapies and information

Trialwell has taken on the ambitious goal of connecting the science community and the general public, calling it a symbiotic relationship that needs to be supported in order to facilitate future research in a cost-effective way.

Obviously, the more people take part in clinical trials and studies through Trialwell, the better the chances to support the development of new treatments and preventative strategies to tackle health threats. So far, Trialwell has rallied 1,200 participants in the UK and Finland for its cause.

“We also want to do our part in closing the current data gap; to raise awareness and encourage men and women from all ethnic groups to participate in research. At the same time, we need to reduce wellbeing polarity,” she says, adding that free access to treatments, therapies and information lies at the heart of the Trialwell ideology.

Trialwell has been built to be prevention-focused from day one:

“Prevention is kinder, cheaper and more effective than cure,” Holland points out.

Active in UK & Finland

The UK is the main market for the startup, but Trialwell has launched a pilot project together with VTT and is participating in Health Incubator Helsinki as one of Batch II companies.

Holland has enjoyed the incubator experience:

“The incubator functions as a great sounding board for us and other companies. It’s good to have the support of the entire network.”

Trialwell's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Trialwell

Product: Connecting participants and researchers for clinical trials and studies

Founded: 2020

Team size: 3

Target customer/market: people with health issues, researchers 

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photo: Trialwell
Cover photo: Jussi Hellsten / Helsinki Marketing

Finnish and Estonian health tech startups showcased their high-level innovation

Health Founders and Health Incubator Helsinki are inviting you to the second FinEst Health Economy Demo Day!

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Banner of Finnish-Estonian Health Economy Demo Day

Welcome to Finnish-Estonian Health Economy Demo Day on Wed, 15 December, 2021, showcasing the rising stars of the cross-border health innovation ecosystem!

In this online event, 8 promising healthtech startups from Finland and Estonia will showcase their solutions, followed by a panel discussion with investors. Whether you’re a startup, investor or just interested in healthtech innovation – save the date and sign up now!

The event is organised by Health Founders accelerator and Health Incubator Helsinki. It is a sequel to a successful first Demo Day in January 2021 that brought together over 80 investors, startups and ecosystem partners.

8 promising STARTUPS pitching at Health Economy Demo Day:

Phonolyser
AnalysisMode
Cardiomtec
Henkaus
Neurosalience
.life
Nanordica Medical

PROGRAM:

14:00 – 14:15 Welcome
14:15 – 16:00 Pitches from Health Founders & Health Incubator Helsinki teams (5 min + 5 min Q&A)
16:00 – 16:30 Panel discussion with investors
16:30 – 17:00 Awards

JURY members:

Joseph Mocanu, Managing Partner at Verge HealthTech Fund
Andrus Oks, Founding Partner at Tera Ventures
Juha Lindfors, Partner at Lifeline Ventures
Marko Kuisma, Partner at Courage Ventures Funds

Register now!

Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and startups operating in the health sector. Currently, there are 24 teams/startups in the program. Follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter!

Health Founders is the first health economy accelerator in the Baltics with a mission to launch 100 new healthtech companies over the next 10 years. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, the unique program brings together ambitious founders, experienced mentors and forward-looking industry partners to build the future of health. Find them on LinkedIn and Facebook!

Fighting infertility with computer algorithms

Fighting infertility with computer algorithms

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Baby

Fertility treatments often lack predictability, leading into uncertainty and frustration. Through the power of machine learning, however, it is possible to improve the over-all effectiveness of fertility treatments. New Finnish startup Knewborn wants to accomplish all this – and more. The company is one of the promising startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Co-founder Sara Veleva is an experienced physician who is skilled in Research, Medical Education, Gynecology, Epidemiology, and Statistical Data Analysis. Hailing from Bulgaria, she came to study in Finland almost 20 years ago.

“When I first got the invitation from the University of Oulu, my friends joked it was located so far up north that there had to be penguins,” she looks back now, laughing. 

Her award-winning, 2008 doctoral thesis focused on infertility, providing a solid future base for a startup focused on infertility issues.

Award-winning thesis led to idea development

At the time, even Time Magazine interviewed her, further convincing Veleva that there’s something worth developing here.

“There’s a huge amount of uncertainty that comes with fertility treatments: they are, by nature, heavy, difficult and expensive treatments with no guarantees.”

Then an idea emerged: what if you could decrease that “fog of uncertainty” between doctors and patients by improving communication – and improving vitro fertilization treatments, as well?

“We experimented with machine learning tools to see if this could be done. Proper predictive models were key in this work,” Veleva says, calling the startup a “rapid vessel” for getting support for those people in need.  

Sara Veleva

Sara Veleva

Overlap in competences from three countries

Veleva put together a team with AI expertise and started developing the product.

“We are utilizing a vast collaboration network to make this happen,” Veleva says, adding that she’s not your typical businesswoman, but instead, a researcher with a knack for taking different things and putting them together. 

Founded in 2020, Knewborn is packed with people from quite different professional backgrounds.

“There is also overlap in competences which is good for team cohesion,” she says.

So far, specialists from three different countries have been involved in the development phase, as well as various infertility clinics.

“We are looking to take on our first client in 2022.”

Health Incubator Helsinki as support

Veleva says that reducing stress and anxiety for hopeful parents is a worthy goal – but the road ahead is not easy.

“Even with AI, this is a huge challenge for all of us, but we’re confident we can make good things happen.”

Participating in the Health Incubator Helsinki – as one of Batch II companies – has given Veleva confidence to keep going forward on her chosen path.

“The program has a solid, positive structure that is giving us great support, also peer support through the pandemic,” she says, admitting that she has missed face-to-face encounters.

“Covid has really hit communication between people, but we’ve tried to adjust. It feels like things are improving now.”

Logo of Knewborn.AI

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Knewborn

Product: Improving predictability of fertility treatments via machine learning

Founded: 2020

Team size: 10

Target customer/market: Fertility clinics, couples with infertility issues 

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Knewborn
Cover photo: Unsplash

DataSolu takes on CV diseases armed with lab-grown cardiomyocytes and deep learning

DataSolu takes on CV diseases armed with lab-grown cardiomyocytes and deep learning

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Calculations on a whiteboard.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, estimated to cause 17.3 million deaths every year. Furthermore, there is an expected increase of up to 23.6 million deaths by the year 2030, representing 31% of all global deaths. In fighting CV diseases, new innovations are direly needed. Let’s meet Finnish DataSolu team developing one of the promising innovations selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

DataSolu wants to speed up preclinical drug development and boost preventive care by revealing and predicting potential heart failures, using a unique cocktail of lab-grown cardiomyocytes, biomimicry and AI.

“Regular screening methods like ECG, exercise stress tests and blood tests may not pick up the very small abnormalities and hidden heart diseases. We want to be the trusted partner that finds even the slightest anomalies accurately,” says Dr. Mika Aho from DataSolu.

DataSolu applications are in cardiac toxicity screening and preventive care. Cardiotoxicity is the main reason for drug withdrawal, and most of the new compounds fail during the late-phase development.

“There are opportunities for reducing the costs and time-to-market significantly in pharmaceutics, but also in chemical and cosmetology companies,” Aho continues.

From the outside, DataSolu service is very straightforward. Pharma companies and CROs send or stream their data to the platform, and in return get back the analysis.

“Why would you use a biologist’s or cardiologist’s valuable time to manually analyze hours of data to detect arrhythmias and classify potential heart diseases, if there are better options?” Aho asks.

Enter: iPSCs!

At the heart of DataSolu innovation we find the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), reprogrammed from adult human cells and differentiated into cardiomyocytes. iPSCs are a promising alternative to model human cardiac diseases: they display properties similar to human heart cells, and have the advantage of mass production in the laboratory, having multiple disease-specific and patient-specific lines.

“In addition, they offer the opportunity to study cells that are genetically matched to individual patients with disease, and help overcome the problems associated with animal models. In fact, the European parliament just recently voted in favor of a plan to replace animal experiments with cutting-edge science,” Aho explains.

Team members of Datasolu

Team members of Datasolu from left: Mika Aho and Leo Heinsuo.

Meet the MEAs and physiological stimulation

The analysis method deploys microelectrode arrays (MEAs) which are, basically, glass chips printed with multiple microelectrodes, allowing non-invasive long-term measurement of electrically active cells cultured on them. MEAs have been increasingly used iPSC in research for disease modeling, drug testing and screening for early in vitro detection of proarrhythmia risk before clinical use – safe non-arrythmic drugs do not induce arrhythmias.

However, sometimes the anomalies and drug effects are not visible in the data. Research has demonstrated that mimicking human physiology on a dish is an effective stimulus for cardiovascular studies. Which, first of all, mimics the real human physiology, but also stimulates the cells in different conditions, e.g. under physical exertion.

“Physiological stimulation provides us with more valuable data about human response to stress, insight into disease susceptibility, and potentially to understanding individualized treatment response in the future as well,” says Aho.

“Once we have enough data, we can propose which drugs are the best fit for the individual patients,” he adds.

Building the data vault: Data in, analysis out

Using MEA, cardiomyocytes can be monitored during drug testing over longer periods of time.

“MEA devices generate massive amounts of time-series data to feed our deep learning algorithms. We pre-process it, keep the most relevant data and results safe,” says Leo Heinsuo from DataSolu.

DataSolu solution focuses on end-to-end deep learning, omitting traditional feature engineering methods.

“We’ve experimented with countless different types of modern deep learning architectures to tackle the challenge of highly variable iPSC recordings. Unlike ECG waveforms, the field potential (FP) of iPSCs can have very different shapes for each individual recording. The shapes may or may not tell something about an underlying disease or condition,” Heinsuo continues.

DataSolu has been data and AI-driven from the beginning. Company’s ultimate goal is to build a rich iPSC data asset, which in the future will enable, for example, rapid personalized drug development and safety testing of new chemicals.

“Eventually data is the most valuable asset. When you’re utilizing massive amounts of data properly, there is huge business potential involved,” Aho envisions.

Team members of Datasolu

Team members of Datasolu from left: Leo Heinsuo and Mika Aho.

Finding that commercial sweet spot

Still, technically speaking, DataSolu is not yet a registered company.

“We haven’t officially established the company yet, but we have been gradually building up the technologies, formed the core team and advisory group,” Aho explains.

DataSolu is one of the participants of Health Incubator Helsinki’s 2021 program.

“Our involvement with the program has been eye-opening. With many paths to choose from, the incubator is helping us find our sweet spot commercially,” Aho says.

“While we are now focusing on the data analysis, in the long run we also might want to generate the data ourselves. So far, we have been self-financed, but doing the cardiotoxicity testing ourselves even on a smaller scale is costly, and thus we are looking for potential partners and investors to take the next big step.”

Datasolu's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: DataSolu

Product: speeding up preclinical drug development by revealing and predicting hidden heart diseases and failures

Founded: not officially registered yet

Team size: 5

Target customer/market: Big Pharma, CROs, people with risk of heart disease

Jasmine Pro boosts drug delivery

Jasmine Pro boosts drug delivery

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Team members of Jasmine Pro

Presently, a “Holy Grail” of sorts for drug developers is creating drugs that home into their target cells – reducing toxicity or adverse effects. Advanced drug delivery systems deploy polymers as facilitators to try and do just that, but the industry has seen little innovation in polymeric drug delivery systems. A multicultural research team Jasmine Pro – based in Turku, Finland – is now hard at work developing a polymer that really delivers. The team is participating in the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Sebastian Soidinsalo explains that his team is working on a novel enhanced drug delivery system based on jasmine lactone polymer. This proprietary system – or platform, as Soidinsalo calls it – will enable drug companies to design and develop safer and more effective medicines for various therapeutic areas such as oncology and immunology.

“Using this platform, it is possible to create nanoparticle delivery systems that home precisely into the target tissue, which can make a big difference in the fight against cancer, for example,” he says.

Powerful platform

The jasmine lactone polymer has free functional groups that allow attaching virtually any stimuli sensitive linker, drug molecule or targeting moiety.

“The versatility of the platform lowers the development risk – and speeds up the development of new, advanced formulation projects,” says Soidinsalo.

The big thing here is that you can “load more medicine” into this new polymer compared to other polymers.

“For patients, this could mean that instead of taking your medicine every day, you could take it every week,” Soidinsalo offers an example.

Also, the medicine distributed by jasmine lactone platform is not released as bursts – as they often are with other polymers – but it’s thought to release drugs more evenly, to keep optimal levels of the medicine in blood circulation.   

Focus on developing the platform and new drug formulations

Soidinsalo, however, is not the father of the original idea. That distinction goes to the Chief Scientist of the group, Kuldeep Bansal, who realized the excellent qualities of the jasmine lactone and designed the polymer a couple of years ago. Having conducted polymeric nanomedicine research in Nottingham, England, Bansal moved to Finland for his post-doc studies at Åbo Akademi in Turku.   

Around Bansal’s groundbreaking work, a powerful team has formed at Åbo Akademi, with Soidinsalo serving as “entrepreneur in residence,” bringing a business mindset to a science-driven group. The surprising thing here? – The fact that this startup is not, technically speaking, a startup.

“We haven’t registered the company yet,” confirms Soidinsalo. “Right now, our focus is on studying the polymer and developing the platform and new drug formulations onwards,” Soidinsalo says, adding that setting up a company is something for next year.

Team members of Jasmine Pro

Jasmine Pro team members from left: Kuldeep Bansal, Erica Sjöholm and Sebastian Soidinsalo.

Opportunity to create value for pharma industry

However, there is no time to be wasted, due to the limited patent life and the long time it takes to get to the market. The development is in its early stages, but a two-year research-to-business grant from Business Finland will boost the innovation to its next development milestone.

“The funding just kicked in at the start of September, giving us the chance to strive for our scientific goals, such as making sure that the polymer is safe to be studied in people.”

But while the market launch of the first jasmine polymer-based drug is perhaps a decade away, the upside of such a breakthrough is considerable.

“We have an opportunity to create significant value for the industry with our polymer,” says Soidinsalo. “Big pharmaceutical companies are facing problems with drugs’ bioavailability toxicity and stability and our polymer could be the answer to some of these difficult drug formulation problems.”

At the moment, Finland doesn’t have that many startups that are doing “hardcore drug development” as Soidinsalo puts it. Still, participating in Health Incubator Helsinki has been a good experience for the team:

“We’re able to expand our networks and gain a more realistic perspective on our project through feedback,” he says.

Logo of Jasmine Pro

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Jasmine Pro

Product: A new enhanced drug delivery system based on jasmine lactone polymer

Founded: Not incorporated yet

Team size: 5

Target customer/market: pharmaceutical companies

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Jasmine Pro

AnalysisMode speeds up scientific discovery

AnalysisMode speeds up scientific discovery

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AnalysisMode's application.
For science, the lab is often the true battleground where breakthroughs are made. But what if you could run tests as simulation – and have a Virtual Home Lab at your disposal? Meet Finnish startup AnalysisMode, one of the promising startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

For AnalysisMode, the above seemed like an intriguing possibility. Instead of using hundreds of hours per year doing manual experiment data analysis, one could unleash the power of AI – and secure accurate results in a matter of hours.

So how does it all work, then? With AnalysisMode, scientists can use past experiment data, usually in the form of spreadsheet datasets, as input for the startup’s AI. AnalysisMode can train the AI based on this data, in order to predict and design new experiments.

“With our solution, you can predict bench experiments before making them,” sums up Tiago Sampaio, co-founder and R&D Director of the company that was started in 2017.

Five times more discoveries

In this undertaking, one uses – in lieu of an actual bioreactor – a virtual bioreactor, a digital twin of the real thing used in a lab.

“Our virtual bioreactor supports experiment simulations in different modalities, such as CHO cells, T-Cell, Viral Vectors, and more can be added at the request of the customer.”

The AnalysisMode software can run tens of thousands of simulations based on the input data provided by the scientist, discovering more “recipes” for cell culture experiments.

“From simple text data, we manage to predict molecular-level properties,” Sampaio explains.

Sampaio says that scientists using AnalysisMode’s solution are able to rack up five times more discoveries, while saving around €250,000 in annual biomanufacturing and research costs (per 10-people bench science team).

Opening the AI “black box”

According to Sampaio, the virtual model has several attractive qualities from the perspective of the scientific community. First, it works also for small data, which is useful when dealing with novel diseases, for example.

“Second, our AI technology is capable of explaining each prediction – in human language, instead of mathematical formula, and it is adaptable, meaning you don’t need to retrain a whole AI every time new data is added.”

Finally, under this model, the bench scientist is able to understand why the AI makes every single prediction – and work is able to proceed that much smoother.

“We opened the AI black box into a transparent interface to allow for this,” reveals Sampaio.

Team members of AnalysisMode

AnalysisMode team members from left: Tiago Sampaio, Mia (Minh Anh) Le, Milda Dapkeviciute and Teppo Hudsson. Recently, Belma Alispahic has joined the company, leading AnalysisMode’s scientific team.

Health hackathon champion

In addition to perfecting their AI solution, AnalysisMode has been busy making a name for itself in hackathon circles. In 2020, the company won five HackTheCrisis events and was a finalist at EU vs Virus. Previously, the company has also won the Finnish Ultrahack. This year, the company won EU’s Data 4 Healthy Recovery hackathon and was recently chosen as the winning team in the EU Data 4 Healthy Recovery Accelerator.

What’s the secret behind such a stellar performance?

“I believe it is a combination of domain knowledge and determination that wins hackathons. We go all-in,” Sampaio says with a grin.

Working towards affordable cures

Sampaio, a Brazilian native, is currently cooking his innovations under the Northern Lights – in Rovaniemi, Finland, above the Arctic Circle. He has a vision where virtual lab tools take cell-based treatments to another level entirely – finally conquering disease. Having lost his grandfather to cancer last year, Sampaio acts with a sense of urgency:

“There are threats out there similar to COVID-19 and we must prepare for those threats. Obviously, affordable cure for disease is a major part of this,” he says, adding that harnessing the full abilities of AI can provide humanity with the firepower it needs to meet these challenges.

“For example, with cell therapy, the cost can be as much as one million euros per just one patient right now. Using AI, we can cut the price by half.”

AnalysisMode is one of the Health Incubator Helsinki’s Batch II companies – and Sampaio says that networking within the program has already yielded great contacts.

“The incubator is also showing us participants what are the concrete steps we need to take in order to go forward.”

Logo of AnalysisMode
Startup Fast Facts:

Name: AnalysisMode

Product: AI solution allows researchers to predict bench experiments before making them.

Founded: 2017

Team size: 13

Target customer/market: Research community

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: AnalysisMode

Phonolyser tracks down Congenital Heart Disease in newborns

Phonolyser tracks down Congenital Heart Disease in newborns

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Newborn

Helsinki startup Phonolyser is taking on Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) which is a structural heart defect present already at birth. As it is also the most common birth defect in the world, all medical solutions are of critical importance in order to safeguard the infants’ health and wellbeing. The company is one of the promising health startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Bahman Doaeian, Chief Business Officer at Phonolyser, points out that every year, around 1.35 million babies are born with CHD worldwide.

“CHD is the most common cause of birth defect related infant death – and despite its vast prevalence, public awareness about CHD and also the funding to address this issue seem really underwhelming at this point,” Bahman says. It is estimated that approximately 200-300 babies each year are discharged from the US hospitals with an undiagnosed CHD.

Phonolyser wants to change all this with its device by the same name: Phonolyser™ is a groundbreaking smart heart analyzer for pediatricians and healthcare staff to differentiate innocent murmurs from pathologic ones. It is packed with technologies such as AI, doppler, ECG and sound to detect and diagnose CHD with a remarkable degree of confidence (Sensitivity: 98%).

Accurate screening and diagnosis tool – for all healthcare personnel

Phonolyser™ shows in what phase of the cardiac cycle the murmur is occurring (systolic or diastolic), the intensity of the murmur, its location, and in what direction it is radiated.

“All of this information can help and lead the physician to the most accurate category of diagnosis,” Bahman says.

According to Bahman, Phonolyser™ is a revolutionary new device since it is accurate, real-time, and affordable, helping healthcare professionals identify and diagnose congenital heart disease more effectively and faster than ever before.

“What’s more, every doctor and a member of the healthcare staff can use it: it’s not meant only for specialists and cardiologists,” adds Bahman.

Phonolyser's device

Saving healthcare costs

Avoiding loss of life and helping babies grow up healthy is, of course, paramount here. Nevertheless, there are other concerns, too: for example, although most infants diagnosed with CHD are healthy, every year more than 10 million babies are referred to pediatric cardiologists.

“The problem of unnecessary referrals costs huge amounts of money and time and we’re here to save the healthcare industry billions,” says Bahman.

Examinining a patient in three minutes

Founded in 2017, the startup hit the ground running and put together the first version of its device in August of the same year.

“It was doppler based – and made out of a biscuit box,” reveals Bahman.

Evolution continued: Launched in April 2019, version 2.0 combined Doppler with AI and ECG; newest version, 3.0., which came out in May 2020, has added sound to the mix.

“The present version is two times faster than what we started with. Now it takes less than three minutes to examine a patient,” says Bahman.

Team of Phonolyser
Team of Phonolyser, from left to right: Javad Maleki, Sanaz Naderi, Jalmari Talola, Bahman Doaeian, Markus Tuukkanen and Farnaz Farahdel.

Finland is the place to be in healthcare

Presently, Phonolyser team is “very excited” to be one of the 13 outstanding startups of the Health Incubator Helsinki in 2021.

“We plan to use the resources and mentorship that the program brings us to help more people live healthier and longer lives,” Bahman says.

“Finland is simply the place to be, if you want to build a healthcare business that centers on children,” he concludes.

Logo of Phonolyser

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Phonolyser

Product: Phonolyser™, accurate screening tool for pediatricians and healthcare staff to diagnose CHD

Founded: 2017

Team size: 8

Target customer/market: Healthcare professionals working with infants, newborns and children

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Phonolyser
Cover photo: Unsplash

Health Incubator Helsinki companies Maculaser, Finnadvance and Sartar Therapeutics secured new funding

Health Incubator Helsinki companies Maculaser, Finnadvance and Sartar Therapeutics secured new funding

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Finnish startups are breaking records in growth funding year on year, with 2021 most likely becoming yet another record-breaker. When looking at the health sector, there’s tremendous potential in Finnish startups. We’re happy to share  the recent funding news of three Health Incubator Helsinki companies: Maculaser, Finnadvance and Sartar Therapeutics. Congratulations to the teams!

“It is encouraging to follow the progress of the startups in our program. Being able to attract substantial funding and grants to develop their concepts –​​ that is proof that the companies have competitive business innovations,” says Christian Lardot, Leader of Health Incubator Helsinki.

Maculaser's logo

Combating blindness – 2.1 MEUR funding accelerates Maculaser towards clinical trials

Maculaser Ltd, a clinical phase medical technology company developing novel laser therapy for retinal diseases, has completed its seed round totaling 2.1 MEUR. The round includes 1.2 MEUR from institutional and private investors, led by Finnish venture capital investor Innovestor Ventures, recently added with a R&D loan and grant from Finnish innovation funding body Business Finland.

“The funding enables us to proceed at full speed with our product, temperature-controlled retina laser, and planned clinical trials to prevent blindness,” says Jani Tirronen, CEO of Maculaser.

The Health Incubator Helsinki startup targets early disease prevention by providing personalized, effective, and safe use of lasers for central macular disorders that impact the everyday life of millions of people worldwide.

Finnadvance's logo

Finnadvance received funding for fast-tracking drug discovery for osteoarthritis

The Finnish Research Impact Foundation awarded recently over 2 MEUR to support academia-industry collaboration. One of the 11 funded joint ventures is a project between University of Oulu and its business partner, Health Incubator Helsinki company Finnadvance.

“We got the funding to develop our bone-on-chip model for fast-tracking drug discovery for diseases like osteoarthritis while having minimal animal use in the process,” says Prateek Singh, CEO of Finnadvance.

The project will help to advance the development of predictive diagnostics and reduce the economic burden from osteoarthritis globally. The model is based on Finnadvance’s successful biomimetic bone marrow in vitro model. The project was granted 213,958 EUR.

Logo of Sartar Therapeutics.

Sartar Therapeutics on the way to revolutionise sarcoma therapy with new R&D funding

Health Incubator Helsinki company Sartar Therapeutics, aiming to revolutionize sarcoma therapy, has been granted R&D funding by Business Finland.

“This R&D loan will allow us to advance the development of our product SAR001 towards clinical trials. We consider this positive decision as a significant credit for our technology for the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas”, says Sartar’s CEO Katja Ivanitskiy.

Sartar is committed to delivering innovative, therapeutic options for the broad and heterogeneous group of soft tissue sarcomas. Currently, very few efficacious therapies are available for sarcoma patients. The company’s first precision medicine product to treat these tumors, SAR001, specifically targets the PDE3A protein, which is frequently expressed in GIST and other soft-tissue tumors.

Interested investors, take a look also at Uute Scientific that has opened a Series A financing round!

Cardiomtec is making whistleblower software for the heart

Cardiomtec is making whistleblower software for the heart

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 3 cyclists

Cardiac problems represent a significant and much talked about public health challenge. More than a million people die each year, in the western countries alone, due to coronary heart disease. Meet Finnish medtech startup Cardiomtec, working on early identification or cardiac issues. The company is one of the promising startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Too often, slowly progressing coronary heart disease is quite asymptomatic for a long time, and the patient frequently has no worrisome sensations until the disease has progressed quite far. Often sudden death is the first sign of the disease. This is particularly worrying for type 2 diabetics, as a significant proportion of the type 2 diabetics unknowingly suffer from asymptomatic coronary heart disease.

“Therefore, it is essential to detect coronary heart disease as early as possible, especially in asymptomatic patients, so that treatment can be started as early as possible,” says CEO Mikko Kaski from Espoo-based Cardiomtec Oy.

Having worked in the medical device industry for 20 years, Kaski is convinced that there is a need in the market for an easy-to-use, affordable device that people could use at home.

Mikko Kaski

Mikko Kaski, CEO of Cardiomtec

Heart of the matter

Kaski started working on a device that can be used to identify features of heart function that warrant further medical examination a couple of years ago. The company, Cardiomtec, was launched in 2020.

There is now an existing prototype of the device that produces information that can be used to early identifications of cardiac issues, such as coronary heart disease, at the earliest possible stage.

“Thus, it is also a device that promotes preventive healthcare. The benefits of this to public health and healthcare costs are significant as people get treated earlier.”

Read the patterns

More specifically, the device measures and analyzes the electrical activity of the heart using an ECG signal and registers changes in the electrical activity of the heart. Based on the observed changes, abnormalities can be identified at an early stage and indications of a possible precursor to a disease, such as coronary artery disease, can be red-flagged.

The device is intended as an aid to be used at home, as well as to be read to a doctor remotely via a cloud service.

Get in front of the problem

According to Kaski, the company’s products are primarily intended for middle-aged, regular people who do not have a diagnosed heart defect – but who may be at increased risk for heart-related diseases such as type 2 diabetics.

“Our device is also well-suited, for example, for athletes and people working in other demanding professions, such as commercial pilots, where an assessment of cardiac muscle condition is required.”

This is also where the Cardiomtec device differs from the competition: instead of concentrating on the symptoms of the patients resulting from cardiac failure, Cardiomtec wants to get in front of the problem to prevent cardiac failure in the first place: to be the device of choice for the active person on-the-go.

“Our device is very much preemptive in its function, meant to support and enhance personal wellbeing.”

Cardiomtec's device

Early prototype in January 2021: the box and mobile application

Ask the experts!

Several cardiologists have been interviewed in the making of the device, and their feedback has been incorporated into the product.

“Cardiologists have told us that our device is doing all the right things – it is helping to solve the problem we set out to crack,” Kaski says.

In making of the device, the need for electronics parts is not as considerable as the need for quality software. “We’ve grown our software team all the time, and now have four guys working with software,” he says, adding that software creates perhaps 80% of the device’s impact.

Launch in 2022

Cardiomtec is expecting to launch its device in 2022, if everything goes according to plan. At this time, the startup is looking for additional funding to make a big splash in the market.

“We want to start in the Nordics and the EU. Eventually, UK and US are very attractive markets for us, once we receive proper medical device approval.”  

Being part of the Health Incubator Helsinki program has left an impression on Kaski:

“Most valuable for us has been the quality mentoring that guides us towards investors. Also, the networks that they have and events they are able to provide are astounding – and very helpful.”

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Cardiomtec

Product: Medical wellbeing device that can be used to identify features of heart function that warrant further medical examination

Founded: 2020

Team size: 6

Target customer/market: Active, middle-aged people interested in health & wellbeing

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Cardiomtec
Cover photo: Unsplash

Uute Scientific is attracting global cosmetic brands

Uute Scientific started a Series A financing round

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Uute Scientific's product picture

Health Incubator Helsinki company Uute Scientific fights against immune-mediated diseases with its microbial extract Reconnecting Nature™ that can be added to consumer products. Currently, the extract is already available in 16 different cosmetic products, and negotiations with several Fortune 500 consumer goods companies are ongoing. The company has now opened a Series A financing round. In the interview originally published on Uute’s website, CEO, Co-Founder Kari Sinivuori talks about the company’s journey so far, milestones, challenges, and the newly opened funding round.

Kari Sinivuori
Kari Sinivuori, CEO, Co-Founder of Uute Scientific.

How did starting a business start?

”Our product innovation Reconnecting Nature ™ microbial extract was developed at the universities of Tampere and Helsinki. It corresponds to a microbial community found in a rich forest and nature. I heard about an ongoing microbe study at the University of Helsinki 2,5 years ago – that soil microbes can affect human health. I became more and more interested in the subject and got to know the researchers more closely – they’re doing groundbreaking research that is fairly new to the whole research community. They have created a new ecosystem at the interface of disciplines, immunoecology, where environmental ecology and medicine combine. At the same time, this has enabled the emergence of a top Finnish innovation.

Environmental exposure is essential for the immune system to be able to train itself and maintain its operations. Until 10 years ago, this type of innovation would not have been possible since next generation sequencing (NGS) was not available. Now, there is enough know-how. So, we decided to act. To build a good knowledgeable team to commercialize and sell the solution: microbe extract that stimulates and supports the immune system. We got the Pre-Seed funding from Butterfly Ventures and Norex, also Business Finland support. Also, the bank Nordea gave us loan recently. Feels good when trusted!

At this very moment almost every other person suffers from diseases caused by their own immune system due to an overly clean world! The number of immune-mediated diseases like allergies, asthma and type 1 diabetes are growing at an alarming rate. Think about that potential! When added as a raw material to various consumer products, such as cosmetics or clothing, natural exposure can be brought into everyday life even when it is not possible in an urban environment! It doesn’have to be drug, we can prevent diseases!”

What are your main achievements so far?

”Now, after 18 months of hard work and long days, we’ve built our own factory and have a patent for the content and manufacturing method. We’ve protected our Reconnecting Nature trademark and signed the contract with the European medium-large chemical distributor, Harke Group. We just received the news, that our trademark is mentioned once a day somewhere in the world. Not bad from a brand whose reputation was zero 10 months ago. 

More importantly, our amazing customers have brought their first products to the market. Now there are a total of 16 different cosmetic products and more will come in the coming months. We also negotiate with several Fortune 500 consumer goods companies. The success list is long, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team. Besides our (future) customers, we all share the same vision – to be able to transform our living environment to promote health and well-being through a variety of consumer products and put an end to the growing problem. This is business of course, but it is good, caring business where everybody in the whole value chain, from us to consumers and everyone in between, wins. Our goal is to make our raw material available to as many people as possible, no matter how wealthy they are. That is our driving force.”

Uute Scientific's team

Has this been a bouncy road – or not?

”No startup is a startup without challenges, but they don’t feel overwhelming. One of our challenges is local industry-specific legislation. We know our own role as a raw material manufacturer: to build a good quality system that is also CE approved, if necessary. We know that our raw material needs to be safe, sterile, standardized and proving efficacy, and we work for that on a daily basis. But we’ve also walked an extra mile to understand the situation of our customers (BtB) and helping especially smaller players to understand their communication possibilities in accordance with existing legislation.

In addition, more industry-specific concrete studies need to be done as we’re moving fast also into new product categories. We’ve also found ourselves in situations where larger companies interested in us, have simply been too slow in their decision-making. For us, time has been the deciding factor, not least because of the cash flow situation which we follow closely.”

The next big thing is the upcoming funding round which has now begun. How do you see the future?

”We see our future in a very positive way – we need funding to spread the good news to consumers as well as for new areas of industry specific research. We’re also looking into IPO as an exit possibility for our current and future investors. Most importantly – we believe in tribes. We believe in people joining together for something good. A life without immune-mediated diseases.”  

Logo of Uute Scientific

Uute Scientific is raising Series A financing round in 2021 by a small number of new investors.

Interested? Please contact kari.sinivuori@uutescientific.com for further information.

Read our previous article on Uute Scientific.

Follow Uute Scientific on social media: LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Flux Polymers targets antibacterial plastic surfaces

Flux Polymers targets antibacterial plastic surfaces

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Sample in the laboratory.

The need to keep plastic surfaces clean has been highlighted – to the extreme – by the COVID-19 crisis. Startup Flux Polymers has come up with a simple and easy way to make plastic surfaces antibacterial. The company is one of the promising startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Flux Polymers produces a polymer that can be permanently linked onto plastic surfaces by UV light, explains Dr. Anita Luxenhofer, CEO of the company.

“Our patented coating prevents the attachment of bacteria. The antibacterial effect of the coating is based on a purely physical effect, meaning that no toxic substances are released that could cause resistance in bacteria,” Luxenhofer says.

To introduce anti-fouling properties on the plastic surface, the company uses a hydrophilic polymer, which is both non-toxic and biocompatible.

“Typically, the polymer can be applied on the substrate through fast and efficient spray or by dipcoating,” says Joachim Schramm from Flux Polymers.

Fast, cost-efficient and permanent treatment

Through the use of simple UV irradiation, parts of the polymer react with the plastic surface, so that a permanent attachment of the coating is ensured.

“The process is fast, cost-efficient and not detrimental to the used material,” confirms Anita Luxenhofer.

The hydrophilic surface finishing is suitable for various plastic substrates and renders the surface antibacterial through anti-adherence activity, thus significantly reducing biofilm formation.

Team members of Flux Polymers
Left to right: Joachim Schramm, Robert Luxenhofer, Anita Luxenhofer.

Numerous applications – starting with healthcare

The applications of the innovation are numerous, starting with healthcare: Antibacterial coating of medical devices, application devices and hospital equipment could reduce healthcare-associated infections considerably.

Luxenhofer and Schramm refer to the medical industry as the “Holy Grail” for their company – knowing full well that their solution could do a lot of good in the healthcare sector. Still, there are challenges involved:

“The healthcare sector is so heavily regulated, that it’s probably easier to make an entry to another market first,” Luxenhofer says.

The potential application range seems impressive enough. In the chemical industry, coatings can be functionalised with antifouling polymers for e.g. cleaning and paint applications (non-toxic and non-leaching); clean rooms can be set up with pre-coated panels and filters to provide protection against bacteria (being both waterproof and washable); filtration solutions benefit from the antibacterial coating of filter textures and barrier membranes to reduce release of microorganisms in food, for example.

Similar “openings” exist in e.g. aviation, boating or the toy industry.

New start for the startup in the Helsinki ecosystem

Founded in 2017, the startup relies on technology developed by Anita Luxenhofer.

“The idea dates back to 2014,” she says. The development of the company took on a significant new phase in 2020, as Luxenhofer’s husband Robert became a professor at the University of Helsinki and the couple moved from Germany to the Nordic capital – and started integrating into the local ecosystem. Professor Robert Luxenhofer is also one of the co-founders of the company.

“Despite coronavirus, it was the perfect second start for us,” she says. “I learned a lot last year and we got our patent approved in late summer.”  

Flux Polymers is eager to increase its momentum. “Next up, we want to set up a lab in Helsinki and then focus our efforts on go to market,” explains Joachim Schramm.

Wanted: Collaboration partners and a quick start

Equally vital is talking with various players and securing a user case for the technology.

 “We’re looking for a collaboration and a quick start,” says Luxenhofer, adding that some revenue is expected for 2022. 

Participating in Health Incubator Helsinki, the Flux Polymers team has been impressed with the scope of activities and quality of mentoring.

“The way the program has been helping us figure out what we need has been really awesome,” Schramm says. 

According to Luxenhofer, life as a startup entrepreneur can be taxing at times, but she doesn’t subscribe to the “horror stories” out there: running a startup doesn’t necessarily require “150% commitment”.

“If you have patience and don’t give up easily, you’ll be fine,” she says.

Logo of Flux Polymers

Startup Fast Facts:

Name:  Flux Polymers

Product: Hydrophilic polymer that make plastic surfaces antibacterial

Founded: 2017

Team size: 3

Target customer/market: Industries benefiting from improved hygiene

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photo: Flux Polymers
Cover photo: Unsplash

Henkaus makes remote vital signs tracking possible

Henkaus makes remote vital signs tracking possible

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Product picture of Henkaus
Medical measuring devices are notorious for interfering with patients’ normal lives – but what if those same measurements could be taken without you noticing, without physical contact? Finnish digital health startup Henkaus provides medical-grade vital signs measuring solutions for remote patient care. The measurements can be used for diagnosis by both medical professionals and service providers. The company is one of the promising health startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Abhishek Jayaprakash, Henkaus Oy’s CEO and co-founder, explains that the Finnish, Lappeenranta-based startup develops, sells and markets medical-grade solutions for remote vital signs tracking and remote patient care.

“Our solutions gather accurate and objective data to serve as a pre-diagnostic aid and to help optimise treatment pathways,” he says.

The company’s radar-based technology is capable of measuring the patient’s respiratory rate from a distance of 1-3 meters.

“The device can detect through bedding, linen and clothes,” Jayaprakash says, adding that the data collected by the device is transferred to the company’s proprietary cloud for presentation. A simple interface on a web browser or a smart device allows the healthcare professionals to view patient’s health information at a glance.

“We have a vision to predict illness even before it takes place,” Jayaprakash says.

Team members of Henkaus

Abhishek Jayaprakash, Soumyajit Chatterjee and Ajesh Kumar.

Measuring vital signs – in the background

Henkaus is targeting Telemedicine, Home Care and Assisted Living with its solution. While conducting home measurements, for example, the company provides hassle-free tools and a centralised view to vital information of the home care customers.

“When measurement is contactless, it’s just something in the background and you’re not even consciously thinking about it,” Jayaprakash describes the experience.

Founded in August 2019, Henkaus came to existence as a group of innovation technology management students at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) got together as a result of a 2017 innovation competition.

“The competition got us thinking that we have a worthwhile business idea here and once we graduated, we launched our company within six months,” Jayaprakash looks back.

CE marking guarantees safety and effectiveness

In June 2021, Henkaus reached a major milestone as it obtained the medical CE certification for its solution. Jayaprakash comments that obtaining the medical CE marking can be cumbersome, time consuming and expensive for companies, but, at the same time, it guarantees the safety and effectiveness of the devices on the European markets.

“The CE marking certifies that our product is compliant with the relevant EU legislation and we are all set to commercialise our solutions anywhere in the European Economic Area,” he says.

Presently, Henkaus is making its devices in-house, but it’s starting to talk to contract manufacturers about larger scale production.

“What we have now is basically a Minimum Viable Product capable of being sold in the market,” says Soumyajit Chatterjee, CTO & co-founder of the company.

“At this point, we want to educate the market and find as many early adopters as possible, first in the telemedicine market.”

Team members of Henkaus

Team members of Henkaus (left to right): Jukka Niiranen, Antti Pellinen, Abhishek Jayaprakash, Soumyajit Chatterjee and Ajesh Kumar.

International pilots in healthcare

So far, Henkaus healthcare pilots have been performed in Finland (Pori and Lahti), and also internationally:

“We’ve commenced pilots in Finland, UK and India. We will soon be piloting in Sweden and Spain. We’re focused on ramping up our piloting efforts even more”, Chatterjee says.

Talking about their involvement in the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in April 2021, Jayaprakash and Chatterjee say that they’ve enjoyed the experience a great deal.

“In addition to the business aspects, the program is making you self-reflect and ask yourself all the relevant questions,” Jayaprakash says.

Logo of Henkaus
Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Henkaus

Product: medical-grade, contactless device for remote vital signs tracking and remote patient care

Founded: 2019

Team size: 9

Target customer/market: Telemedicine, Home Care, Assisted Living

Cancer-fighting Evexia arms doctors with better data to improve treatment

Cancer-fighting Evexia arms doctors with better data to improve treatment

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Doctor holding a phone.
How do you help doctors make better, more informed decisions in treatment of cancer? Helsinki-based digital health startup Evexia has come up with a solution that provides an easy way for patients to gather data that supports doctors in making the right call.  The company, rooted on hard science, is one of the promising health startups selected for the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in the spring of 2021.

Evexia’s Co-founder Otto Laitinen believes that by harnessing data, cancer treatment can be developed tremendously.

“There’s a lot we can achieve in this regard – and our smart software is aimed at solving some core problems in the field,” Laitinen says.

Laitinen explains that, presently, cancer treatment revolves around the ECOG grade – given to every patient – which practically measures the performance status of the patient. ECOG is used to understand, what type of treatment the patient can withstand.

“However, studies show that there are three main problems with it: subjectivity, recall bias and the static nature of the grading itself,” Laitinen comments.

The problem involving subjectivity is that the ECOG grade is often decided by only one doctor – while research shows that doctors often don’t agree on the score.

Recall bias means that patients are prone to human error when trying to remember their past symptoms and activity, which makes the doctor’s job that much harder. Performance status (PS) assessment, on the other hand, remains rather static as the score is captured only during clinical visits. As patient’s PS is dynamic throughout treatment, it can change daily – and clinical visits can hardly tell the whole story.

Harnessing data via a patient-oriented software

So what to do then? – Team Evexia believes that having an app that the patients can use to gather the key data for the doctor will do the trick.

“We wanted to make patient-oriented software that’s easy to use as mobile application,” Laitinen says. “The way our app works, the patient should actively use it once a day, for a period of less than five minutes,” he describes the application that is still being developed further on.

“Moving forward, we aim to utilise the smart phone sensors more comprehensively to gather even more data.”

Medical staff gets to utilise the “Doctor dashboard” where algorithms process the data to form an ECOG grade recommendation for the doctor.

“The analysed data allows the doctors to assess also their own judgement, which reduces bias in the ECOG grading process,” Laitinen points out.

Evexia's team

Evexia Co-Founders from left: Aleksi Pauna, Pietari Kaskela, Otto Laitinen, Olli Warro and Juuso Kylmäoja.

Hackathon connected with HUS Helsinki University Hospital

Evexia was founded in January 2020 after an idea formed in a hackathon grew “simply too large” to be only a concept.

“We participated in Hack the Skin Cancer Ultrahack in the summer of 2019 and got to collaborate with HUS Helsinki University Hospital for the first time,” Laitinen looks back.

Being a group of tech-oriented students from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, with a confessed penchant for making the world a better place, they decided to move forward with their idea.

“We have a multidisciplinary team that is eager to learn and grow together,” Laitinen sums up.

First pilot ahead in a hospital environment

This year, Evexia wants to launch its first pilot in a hospital environment in pursuit of all-important clinical validation.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to work together with HUS to develop our solution and the expectations for the future are high,” Laitinen says, adding that everything the company does is rooted on hard science.

Equally thrilling is participation in the Health Incubator Helsinki program that started in April 2021:

“The program is very industry-specific, with great context awareness all around,” Laitinen says.

Evexia's logo
Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Evexia

Product: Smart, patient-oriented software to gather relevant data for the doctor

Founded: 2020

Team size: 5

Target customer/market: Doctors treating cancer, cancer patients

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Health Incubator Helsinki, Jonas Simberg
Cover photo: Unsplash

Nordic Fit Mama helps moms reclaim their bodies after childbirth

Nordic Fit Mama helps moms reclaim their bodies after childbirth

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Woman holding baby in her arms.

Finland has the best maternity healthcare in the world – but there are still some pitfalls down the road. One of the issues concerns bouncing back from childbirth, an area that has been somewhat overlooked by even the so-called experts. Helsinki-based startup Nordic Fit Mama offers online wellness training for mothers who want to feel comfortable in their bodies again.

Riina Laaksonen is the Founder and Coach at Nordic Fit Mama. Laaksonen explains that she realised the need for Nordic Fit Mama as she had two children within a short period and felt like a stranger in her own body.

“Being a Personal Trainer, health and wellbeing have always been a very important part of my life – and due to my background, I was convinced that I knew just what to do to get back in shape after having children,” she looks back.

Turns out, she didn’t have a clue. All of a sudden, there were many exercises that felt difficult to do or were not possible to do at all.  Also, her posture was different and she wasn’t able to run like before.

“When I first started to work out after pregnancies, I made a lot of mistakes in my exercise,” she says now.

Riina Laaksonen

Riina Laaksonen, CEO and Coach at Nordic Fit Mama

Body talks

Laaksonen started to study pre- and postnatal training. After she learned about the safe and right type of exercises, her development really took off:

“It was amazing to see how much I was able to help my body to heal and how much more energetic I felt.”

Empowered enough to take on the world, pretty soon Laaksonen figured out what she wanted to do next: to spread pre- and postnatal information to moms all over the world.

“I want to educate moms on how to speed up recovery and healing after pregnancy and childbirth. I want to let them know, how to start working out the safe way – and get back the core control and confidence we all need,” she says.

Safe digital journey

Nordic Fit Mama was launched in 2014 to accomplish just that. The company offers an award winning, six-week online Post Natal Program that helps women to recover post-baby body in a safe way with the support of trained professionals.

“We have coached over 10,000 moms,” she says.

Nordic Fit Mama also offers a program for pregnant women, and another one for more intensive training. All exercises are medically approved and recommended by gynecologists, midwives and physiotherapists – and all programs are online courses.

“In September 2020, we launched our first program for women in menopause,” Laaksonen adds.

Team of Nordic Fit Mama

Team of Nordic Fit Mama, from left: Asta Laurila, Susanna Rinta, Kati Reijonen, Riina Laaksonen, Vulla Vlachos and Mari Lehtinen.

Going international – good feedback paving the way

Presently, Laaksonen is thinking about, more and more, helping mothers around the world. In recent years, there have been pilot projects in UK, US, Canada and Ireland – with great results.

“For example, the feedback from our pilot in Great Britain has been tremendous and we’re looking forward to making the actual launch to the UK market in 2022,” she says, adding that while certain cultural adjustments need to be made going from one market to the next, the female body is still universal.

“We are trying to make sure that no one has to go at it alone, no matter where you are.”

Preempting the problems

Talking about business prospects, Laaksonen assesses that preventive healthcare is a really hot topic right now – and Nordic Fit Mama is doing its share within the field. After all, as moms are “rescued” back to their healthy, happy, energetic selves, they can also return to working life sooner – and be a lot more productive.

“There are health issues which impact the workforce that we, as the society, simply can’t ignore anymore,” she says.

Being one of Health Incubator Helsinki’s Batch 2 companies, Laaksonen is thrilled to interact with colleagues and learn from the mentors.

“The program is customised very effectively to make sure that you get the support you need.”

Nordic Fitmama's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Nordic Fit Mama

Product: Online wellness training for mothers

Founded: 2014

Team size: 6

Target customer/market: Mothers around the world with access to Internet

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Jonas Simberg
Cover photo: Unsplash

Finnadvance develops microfluidic organ-on-chips for pharmaceutical drug R&D

Finnadvance develops microfluidic organ-on-chips for pharmaceutical drug R&D

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Cell

Oulu-based Finnadvance manufactures multi-channel 3-D microfluidic organ-on-a-chips that simulate the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems.

What this means, in essence, is that the Northern startup simulates the human body’s physiology on a microfluidic device, where small tissue and organ fragments are grown for molecule and drug testing.

“The technology allows more human-like pre-clinical drug testing, fast repurposing of old drugs and, in the long term, development of personalized therapies and medicines,” explains Finnadvance’s CEO Prateek Singh.

Catch the future

Finnadvance has a vision where organ-on-chips will significantly speed the development of new drugs, as well as abolish the need for animals in drug development and toxin testing. The goal at Finnadvance is to create a body-on-a-chip which could be used to test medications and treatments before they are administered to a patient, says Singh.

“This way, performance of different medications and treatments could be tested in advance and the patient would receive only the best, most suitable medication for them. Selecting the right medication with organ- or body-on-chips both speeds up the process substantially and greatly improves the safety as well as patient outcomes,” says Singh, admitting that the concept may sound “futuristic”, but it’s closer than you might think.

“This can all be a reality in 10 years,” he believes.

Best networks

Founded in December 2018, Finnadvance has already established joint research and collaboration with partners and customers such as the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service, Orion Pharma, University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland, Tampere University, VTT Oulu, UPM Biomedicals, the Biobank of Eastern Finland and SMEs Kaivogen, Timegate Instruments, Bionavis, and Afekta.

Prateek Singh

Prateek Singh, CEO of Finnadvance

This year, Prateek Singh was one of the four finalists for the Young Researcher Entrepreneur Award by Kaute Foundation. The award is granted annually to an entrepreneur who has created a new research-based business. Despite being recognized for his entrepreneurial prowess now more and more, Singh says that his “real identity” is different.

“I see myself as a researcher and a scientist, but sometimes you must have your own business to push things along and achieve real progress,” he says.

When duty calls

Originally, Singh founded Finnadvance with a vision to make drug discovery more transparent and predictable. The idea for Finnadvance came together during Singh’s 15 years of studies in biotechnology, biochemistry and protein science.

“This was something that I wanted to pursue, but I didn’t really know whether it would be in the form of a company or a research project,” he looks back. Then, having seen some gaps in the research field, he decided to put together a startup.

“I feel that it’s a duty, in a sense, to promote these innovations.”

Singh started building a team for developing platform technologies for in-vitro development of drugs and therapies. Since then, Finnadvance team has grown to 15 people and is now scaling the platform to accelerate drug development processes.

“By 2025, we aim to have 65 people working here.”

Group of people posing for a picture.

Get the word out!

Born in India, Singh has more than a decade of experience from the Finnish health ecosystem, having come to Finland as part of a work exchange program already in 2009. He says that the ecosystem holds a wide range of expertise that the world might not necessarily know about – yet.

“In a lot of areas, Finnish research is far ahead of the field,” he says, adding that there’s no reason to stop now:

“The Finnish health ecosystem can do even better in the future.”

Participating in the second program of Health Incubator Helsinki, started in April 2021, Finnadvance is eager to learn as much as possible and network to the max.

“We have high expectations for the program. For example, the program mentors are really excellent,” says Singh.

In addition, Finnadvance was recently selected for the EIT Health Catapult Semi-finals – as one of 42 health startups from Europe and the only one in biotech category from Finland. The semifinalists are in for intensive training from experts, meeting investors and corporates, and finally in December 2021, competing in pitch contests to progress to finals.

Finnadvance's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Finnadvance

Product: Manufactures multi-channel 3-D microfluidic organ-on-a-chips

Founded: 2018

Team size: 15

Target customer/market: Medical professionals & researchers

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photo: Jonas Simberg
Cover photo: Unsplash

Medified launches a free app for mood monitoring

Medified launches a free app for mood monitoring

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A person using the Medified smartphone app.

Health Incubator Helsinki startup, Medified Solutions Oy, has launched a new AI-based mood monitoring app – available for anyone, free of charge. The app helps to identify factors affecting the daily mood and provides tools to enhance wellbeing. 

Medified Solutions, a Health Incubator Helsinki startup focusing on the digital development of mental health care, has big news: The company has launched a mental health monitoring app that is available for everyone to download without charge. The CE-marked app, originally developed for clinical use, allows its users to monitor their daily mood, and identify and control the factors affecting it with the help of various questions and individual psychoeducational responses.

On a mission to heal the stigma around mental health issues

The company, founded in 2019, wants to encourage open discussion around mental health issues and help people identify when it’s time to seek help. 

“We believe this app release is very timely now when mental health services are going through a significant digital leap,” says Valtteri Korkiakoski, CEO and founder of Medified.

“We want to do our bit and offer everyone an opportunity to understand better what their own mental health consists of and how systematic monitoring of it can have a great effect on everyday life. Since, it affects everyone, often even unnoticed,” Korkiakoski says.

Widespread interest gained for the solution

Medified has already gained significant attention for its solution both in Finland and internationally. The company has collaborated with, for example, The Finnish Association for Mental Health and Nyyti ry, a national organization that promotes students’ mental health and learning ability. Medified has also caught international attention with its startup competition success. 

Medified app is available in the App Store and Google Play Store starting from May 10.

Read more on Medified’s website.

Photo: Medified

MedicubeX launches its first demo eHealth station

MedicubeX launches its first demo eHealth station

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Three people posing for a picture. In the background is MedicubeX's eHealth station

MedicubeX, one of the first batch Health Incubator Helsinki companies, has almost completed its demo eHealth station that measures vital signs and personal cardiovascular disease risk factors 

Health Incubator Helsinki startup MedicubeX has reached a significant milestone. The company, focusing on giving people a more active role in their own health, has almost completed its first demo station. The demo station that is built inside a Framery acoustic booth can now be found in Terkko Health Hub.

Facilitating healthier lives through self-check stations

MedicubeX was founded in 2020 after three years of preparation. Driven by the global megatrends that are reshaping the future of health, the mission of MedicubeX is to improve patient care and facilitate healthier lives through autonomous self-check stations. 

The MedicubeX demo station measures vital signs and personal cardiovascular disease risk factors in just 5 minutes – without being in physical contact with healthcare staff or other patients. The MedicubeX stations can be used for self-motivated fitness and wellness use or as a tool for healthcare providers.

Read more on MedicubeX’s website.

MedicubeX brings healthcare to you – via automation.

Photo: MedicubeX

13 promising startups selected for Health Incubator Helsinki

13 promising startups selected for Health Incubator Helsinki

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Picture of the event. The text Make an impact is displayed in the background.

13 health and life sciences startups with very high growth potential have been selected for the second program of Health Incubator Helsinki, starting in April 2021. In total, the incubator received 34 high-quality applications from Finland and around the world.

Health Incubator Helsinki is a long-term incubator program driving transformation of health innovation, research findings and expertise into international business, and attracting new talent and companies to Helsinki. The concept is unique in the Nordics in its focus and duration: the incubator focuses solely on health, and the program is up to three years long.

The incubator that kicked off with the first batch of startups in 2020, is a needed component in the continuum that supports startups and research-based teams from universities and SPARK Finland to develop their ideas and business concepts and to become growth companies. The incubator is a joint effort by the City of Helsinki and University of Helsinki, and it is provided in partnership with Health Capital Helsinki.

Main criteria: scalability, innovativeness and team dedication

For the second program starting in April 2021, Health Incubator Helsinki received in total 34 high-quality applications representing a wide range of health-related businesses. The majority of the applications came from Finland. In addition, the incubator received applications from teams in the US, Australia, Slovakia, Spain, the UK and Chile.

After interviews, 13 startup companies were selected for the program: AnalysisMode, Cardiomtec, Curify, DataSolu, Evexia, Finnadvance, Flux Polymers, Henkaus, Jasmine PRO, Knewborn.AI, Nordic Fit Mama, Phonolyser and Trialwell.

“During the selection process, we emphasised high business scalability to international markets, innovativeness of the solution, and team dedication,” says Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader.

“With the new batch of startups, the Health Incubator Helsinki companies now develop a wide range of technologies and new concepts that serve various needs of both the research community as well as end-users and caregivers,” says Lardot.

“In addition, we looked at how the different teams complement each other regarding experience and expertise as it is important to build a well-functioning community where teams can support each other by sharing best practices.”

Up to 3 years of tailored business development advice

The program starts with individual discussions with the teams. Health Incubator Helsinki provides up to three years of tailored, comprehensive business development mentoring and advisory, broad networking opportunities, and modern office and coworking facilities at Terkko Health Hub in the Meilahti hospital area in Helsinki.

Apart from a minor fee for the office space the incubator services are free for the participants, and no equity is taken.

“We look forward to working with the teams to support them with their growth plans,” says Lardot.

“We would also like to encourage startups and researchers to be in contact with us as we are continuously looking for new growth companies.”

Meet the second batch of Health Incubator Helsinki startups here.

Contact information
Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader
Tel. +358 40 195 2639
christian.lardot@hel.fi

About Health Incubator Helsinki
Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and startups operating in the health sector. The incubator, initiated by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki, and operating in close co-operation with Health Capital Helsinki, started operations in 2020 with the first batch of 11 brilliant startups under its wing. In 2021, 13 startups started in the second program.

About Health Capital Helsinki
Health Capital Helsinki is building the greatest health capital by developing the Helsinki Metropolitan health ecosystem, boosting the growth of innovation-driven startups and helping international investors and corporations find their opportunities and partners in Finland. https://healthcapitalhelsinki.fi/

Photo: Terkko Health Hub

Meet the second batch of Health Incubator Helsinki startups

Meet the second batch of Health Incubator Helsinki startups

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Five people work at the table.
13 health and life sciences startups with very high growth potential have been selected for the second program of Health Incubator Helsinki, starting in April 2021. Congratulations to all the teams – we’re excited and happy to support you on your journey!

We’re proud to introduce the batch 2 startups:

AnalysisMode

No more trial-and-error research. AnalysisMode offers online Laboratory Environment Simulators, helping scientists to design experiments and predict failure. From cell-culture simulation to OMICS predictors, the scientists using AnalysisMode reduce their research time, being able to perform a 1-week experiment in just 1-hour, saving 700 hours per year and yielding 5x more discoveries. AnalysisMode tailors its simulators to each customer.

Cardiomtec

Cardiomtec is a Finnish corporation, founded in 2020e, holding more than 20 years of experience of developing medical devices. Cardiomtec specializes in developing applications and portable devices for wellbeing technology. Cardiomtec products are affordable, small and reliable. With Cardiomtec devices one can measure and evaluate cardiac function of an individual at home environment. Data is uploaded to a cloud server, and a medical doctor can review it via web portal.

Curify

Curify is set to transform personalized drug manufacturing through its digital and automated TailoredCure technology. They offer a Medicine as a Service concept for pharmacies, hospital pharmacies and veterinarians, saving time and delivering better and sustainable future treatments for pets and humans.​

DataSolu

DataSolu is a life sciences technology company helping pharma companies to speed up their preclinical drug development by revealing and predicting hidden heart diseases and failures with assistance of biomimicry and AI. The company’s technologies benefit drug development, personalized drug screening approaches and toxicological validation to eliminate compounds with undesirable cardiac effects.

Evexia

Evexia encourages patient-oriented healthcare through building a new digital solution for cancer care. Alas, no solution exists in helping doctors determine objectively the physical condition of the patient. Evexia’s mobile application, data analysis and clinical dashboard allows doctors to make better and more objective care decisions for patients and thus make cancer care better for all involved.

Finnadvance

Finnadvance is bridging the gap between in-vitro and in-vivo research with its microfluidic organ-on-chips for pharmaceutical drug research and development. With industry leading high throughput microphysiological culture platforms, complex in vivo biomechanical cues are mimicked on the in vitro cultures.

Flux Polymers

A simple and easy process to make plastic surfaces antibacterial. Flux Polymers produces a hydrophilic polymer that can be sprayed or dip coated onto plastic surfaces and permanently linked by UV-irradiation. The patented coating prevents the attachment and growth of bacteria. The antibacterial effect of the coating is based on a purely physical effect, so that no toxic substances are released that could cause resistance in bacteria. The process is fast, cost-efficient and not detrimental to the used material.

Henkaus

Henkaus provides contactless vitals monitoring solutions to both the B2B and B2C market segments using radar technology and cloud based AI. The solution acts as a pre-screening tool so that the user only visits the care facility when advised.

Jasmine PRO

Drug developers aspire to create drugs that home into their target cells without causing toxicity and adverse effects. Polymers are critical enablers of advanced drug delivery systems, but the current polymers have suboptimal characteristics and technical challenges. Jasmine PRO has designed a novel enhanced drug delivery system based on jasmine lactone polymer. The platform will enable drug companies to design and develop safer medicines for various indications such as oncology and immunology.

Knewborn.AI

Knewborn.AI brings predictability and improved results to infertility treatments through the power of machine learning.

Nordic Fit Mama

Nordic Fit Mama is a Finnish company that offers online wellness training for mothers. An award-winning, 6-week Post Natal Program helps women to recover post-baby body in a safe way with the support of trained professionals. Nordic Fit Mama also offers a program for pregnant women and another one for more intensive training. All exercises are medically approved and recommended by gynecologists, midwives and physiotherapists. In September 2020, Nordic Fit Mama launched its first program for women in menopause.

Phonolyser

Phonolyser is dedicated to lightening the burden of people dealing with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). The company provides a smart heart sound analyzer device combining AI, doppler, and sound effects to accurately diagnose CHD. The diagnosis takes only two minutes, saving lives around the world and making an impact on the health of so many.

Trialwell

Trialwell is a digital platform utilising AI, to help raise awareness of non-pharmaceutical clinical trials and studies with a focus on health and wellbeing, and to provide a cost-effective recruitment service for researchers and sponsors. The aim is to let as many people as possible know that these types of research projects are open for them to join, which can also be of value for their personal health profile.

Contact information
Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader
Tel. +358 40 195 2639
christian.lardot@hel.fi

About Health Incubator Helsinki
Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and startups operating in the health sector. The incubator, initiated by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki, and operating in close co-operation with Health Capital Helsinki, started operations in 2020 with the first batch of 11 brilliant startups under its wing. In 2021, 13 startups started in the second program.
https://healthincubatorhelsinki.com/

About Health Capital Helsinki
Health Capital Helsinki is building the greatest health capital by developing the Helsinki Metropolitan health ecosystem, boosting the growth of innovation-driven startups and helping international investors and corporations find their opportunities and partners in Finland. https://healthcapitalhelsinki.fi/

Photo: City of Helsinki

Sciar is looking for investments

Sciar is looking for investments

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Health Incubator Helsinki startup Sciar Company Ltd is ready to expand. The company is now looking for funding to take their business to the next level. 

Sciar, one of the companies participating in Health Incubator Helsinki aims to change the life science industry by bringing next-generation digital tools to every scientist in every laboratory. Their Quality Management software and Augmented Reality workflow tool are created for enhancing the quality of the researcher’s work as well as the quality of the data.

“This year has shown how important life sciences and laboratory work has been for the whole world. Sciar has created tools to allow faster science and processes and now we’re ready to scale up and expand”, says Joel Noutere, CEO of Sciar.

The company has been previously funded by Business Finland and is currently raising the late-seed/bridge round of 1M€. They are searching for investors interested in making a real impact at the root level.

Poster of Sciar Digital Lab Assistant

Laboratories wanted as beta-testers

In addition to funding opportunities, Sciar is looking for laboratories to test their ready product, Digital Lab Assistant. Beta testing is free of charge, and the testing period is 1 or 2 months. The users get a unique opportunity to contribute to the further development of the tool and its future features. Three of the beta testers have a chance to win a 12-month license for the Sciar Platform. Beta testing is open to all kinds of laboratories in any field.

Read more:

Sciar wants to bring better documentation to the laboratories through modern tech solutions.

Sign up for beta testing: https://sciar.co/gemini

Contact information:
Joel Noutere, CEO, Sciar Company Ltd., joel@sciar.co
https://sciar.co

Business incubator boosts success in the health tech sector

Business incubator boosts success in the health tech sector

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Kai Kronström and Jani Tirronen

Health Incubator Helsinki helps early-stage startups to develop their business idea and obtain valuable contacts and funding. Maculaser and EpiHeart’s experiences of the incubator are very good.

Two startups participating in the incubator program of Health Incubator Helsinki in the Meilahti campus area have great news to tell. Maculaser has received initial funding of 1.2 million euros from investors, and another company, EpiHeart, has secured about 600,000 euros through a crowdfunding round.

“The incubator provides tailored, long-term support for aspiring health tech and med tech companies. We help in concept development, piloting, go-to market strategies and raising funding. We have a wide network and can connect different parties together,” says Christian Lardot, Incubator Leader at Health Incubator Helsinki.

Founded in 2020, the incubator currently has 11 companies developing their business, almost all of which have a university background. With the exception of office rent, the service is free-of-charge for companies. The most recent application round ended on 15 March.

“At the application stage we assess whether there is demand for the innovation, service or product of an applicant company. Is the company’s goal to create something new or to improve existing solutions? It is also important that the team is committed and determined,” says Lardot.


New type of laser therapy prevents blindness

Maculaser has developed and patented a new type of laser therapy to prevent blindness caused by common retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

“Retinal diseases cost healthcare systems around the world 400 billion euros annually. There are currently no treatments for dry age-related macular degeneration, which affects more than 100 million people, for example. If our technology can be used to delay or prevent blindness, it will have a massive impact at both the individual and the societal level,” says Jani Tirronen, Maculaser’s CEO.

Jani Tirronen

Jani Tirronen, Maculaser’s CEO.

The seed funding raised by Maculaser will secure the company’s operations for the next couple of years, enable clinical tests with patients and the development of the existing prototype device into a clinical treatment device.

“In the funding round, the incubator provided us with contacts and mentoring on how to pitch our idea to different investors. The fact that we were chosen for the incubator has in itself given us more credibility. You have to do the work yourself, however; nobody will do it for you,” says Tirronen.

“Although the companies in the incubator are all at different stages, many of the issues we are resolving are similar. Being able to exchange views with other teams is very valuable.”

Better treatment for heart disease

EpiHeart solves problems associated with heart failure. The company’s initial focus is on a treatment in which the patient’s own heart tissue is used in cardiac surgery to make a therapeutic cell transplant to prevent heart failure. The treatment is still in the research stage.

“The problems are known and significant worldwide. Our solution has excellent potential to become widely adopted because cardiac surgery is practised in the same way everywhere,” says Kai Kronström, EpiHeart’s CEO. He emphasises that the company is still at early stage.

Kai Kronström

Kai Kronström, EpiHeart’s CEO.

Although Kronström himself has an extensive entrepreneurial background and the solid experience it brings, EpiHeart has gained a lot from participating in the incubator.

Exchange of information with other companies, business premises, a central location within the hospital area and access to the right people are the main benefits according to Kronström.

During the funding round that just ended, EpiHeart met with angel and private equity investors. There was interest, but the company finally chose a crowdfunding model because it gave access to investors who would normally not be able to invest in this type of company.

“In this model, individual investments are relatively small, the smallest being under 1000 euros. From a societal perspective, it would be good if investment assets were steered more towards companies that create something new. They involve risk but we, for example, have a realistic goal of creating better care for heart patients and, at the same time, generating substantial returns for shareholders,” says Kronström.

A sector of the future generating wellbeing

According to Christian Lardot, funding for health technology companies is available both in Finland and abroad. In Finland, however, receiving major investments in the sector is still a relatively new thing, which poses challenges to many healthcare companies.

“As of yet, there are few health technology investors in Finland, mainly due to the small number of new companies with growth potential. Investors in this sector have to have an understanding of different therapy areas and markets to be able to assess the significance, impact and market potential of an innovation.

Both EpiHeart and Maculaser put in a huge effort to raise seed funding. What success factors do the two CEOs recognise in the background of their companies?

“Solid research is an important foundation. We also need common drive and ambition to move things forward,” says Kronström.

“A solid scientific base, solid technology, great commercial potential, a united team and contacts with leading companies in the field around the world,” says Tirronen.

Christian Lardot says that the health technology sector is important for many reasons. The cost to society is high if people are not healthy.

“Few high-quality research-based healthcare companies are being founded in Finland at the moment. High-quality research is being carried out in Finland that leads to great innovations. These innovations should also enable that new companies with growth potential will be established. We see a clear role for us in this and, if we do this right, it will generate successful companies and, as a result, wellbeing.”

Learn more about Health Incubator Helsinki.

Epiheart raised €0.6 million in funding for novel cardiac therapies

Epiheart raised €0.6 million in funding for novel cardiac therapies

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Operating room

Finnish medtech startup, Health Incubator Helsinki company Epiheart has raised a €0.6 million seed funding for the advancement of their first cardiac therapy that aims to provide added value for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgeries.

Epiheart is a young medical device company focused on enabling new cardiac therapies. The first therapy in focus is Cardiac Micrograft Therapy™, an adjuvant therapy administered during cardiac interventions, such as coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. The company has now raised a €0.6 million in seed funding on Invesdor crowdfunding platform – more than 200 % of the company’s original equity funding target.

“It is not trivial to get backing for high risk/high reward medical development such as ours, so we highly appreciate the results of the funding round. The funding with a high number of individual investors allows us to proceed with product development and clinical studies,” says Kai Kronström, CEO of Epiheart.

“We are proud that yet another of Health Incubator Helsinki companies, Epiheart, has secured funding that enables them to continue and speed up the development of their concept. We have seen that crowdfunding is a suitable funding instrument also for medtech and life sience companies, as it opens the possibility for the general public to invest in this sector,” comments Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader.

Epiheart was established for development and commercialisation of medical device packages to enable novel surgical cellular therapies and to drive them into mainstream clinical use.

“The opportunity ahead is exiting. I believe that we have more than a fair chance to make a difference – both clinically for the benefit of patients, and economically for the benefit of shareholders,” says Kronström.

There are currently 11 startups in the first Health Incubator Helsinki program. Right now, the incubator is welcoming new application for the second program starting in May 2021.

”We are proud to see that our companies have been able to seek and secure the funding they need with more funding rounds emerging,” says Lardot.

Read more:

Epiheart’s pitch material on Invesdor platform.

EpiHeart fights off heart failure with new therapy – interview with Kai Kronström.

For additional information:

Kai Kronström, CEO, Epiheart, +358 40 751 6763, info(a)epiheart.com

Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader, +358 40 195 2639, christian.lardot(a)hel.fi

Photo: Unsplash

Maculaser raised €1.2 million in funding to combat blindness

Maculaser raised €1.2 million in funding to combat blindness

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Researcher

Finnish medtech startup, Health Incubator Helsinki company Maculaser has raised a €1.2 million funding round for their patented laser treatment technology that aims to halt the progression of blinding retinal diseases.

Maculaser, a Finnish startup developing temperature-controlled laser therapy for retinal diseases, has raised €1.2 million in funding. The round was led by Finnish venture capital investor Innovestor Ventures with participation from institutional and private investors including business angel Jaakko Ollila and several medical doctors. The funding will be used to accelerate product commercialization and move the company to the clinical trial phase.

The amount of funding is notable for a health tech sector seed funding in Finland.

“With new funding, we will take a major step in the path of commercialisation of our technology. What makes the funding significant is also that we were able to secure it in the Covid-19 environment”, says Jani Tirronen, CEO of Maculaser.

“The fact that a startup has secured substantial funding is a testimony to its breakthrough innovation and rewarding business concept. Out of the 11 companies in the Health Incubator Helsinki program that we started in the autumn of 2020, Maculaser has emerged as one of these startups”, comments Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader.

Developing new laser therapy combating blinding diseases

Blindness – caused by major retinal diseases – is a significant health challenge around the world. According to estimates, the global direct healthcare burden caused by retinal diseases is currently over €400 billion. Maculaser is developing temperature-controlled laser therapy technology, aiming to treat common retinal diseases already at an early phase in a personalized, safe, and effective manner.

“We aim to be the first in the market with this type of technology and treatment for patients suffering from retinal diseases. Demand for our technology already exists, as partnership discussions with some of the world’s leading retinal laser manufacturers are underway. We are confident that we will change the whole industry and have a significant impact on the treatment market. Commercial success will likely follow after proving our medical excellence”, says Jani Tirronen.

“We are delighted and proud to see that one of the Health Incubator Helsinki teams has succeeded in building its businesses with such determination and commitment. With the quality of our teams, as well as the Incubator’s unique environment, we expect to see more teams achieving these significant milestones”, says Christian Lardot.

Read more:

Innovestor Ventures invests in Maculaser.

News in Finnish business daily Talouselämä.

Maculaser’s story – interview with Jani Tirronen

For additional information:

Jani Tirronen, CEO, Maculaser Ltd, +358 45 185 3303, jani.tirronen(a)maculaser.com

Christian Lardot, Health Incubator Helsinki Leader, +358 40 195 2639, christian.lardot(a)hel.fi

Photo: Maculaser

First ever Estonian-Finnish showcase of potential future health tech unicorns

First ever Estonian-Finnish showcase of potential future health tech unicorns

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Banner of Health Economy Demo Day 2021

The first of its kind Estonian-Finnish Health Economy Demo Day brought together over 80 investors, startups and ecosystem partners to listen to pitches from 9 promising health technology startups.

Organized by Health Founders accelerator in Estonia and Health Incubator Helsinki in Finland, the event provided a unique and cross-boundary platform for startups and investors to connect.

“The event proved that the interest in innovative health tech solutions is at an all-time high and the Estonian-Finnish health economy ecosystem has incredible potential,” said Siim Saare, Founding Partner of Health Founders.

Migrevention and VEIL.AI chosen as winners

Out of 9 teams, the two winners were Migrevention, the first fully digital headache clinic in the world and VEIL.AI that helps healthcare actors utilize valuable data in ways that were not possible before.

“It was great to see how exciting and advanced health startups there are on both sides of the Gulf. Of course, it feels good to win in this kind of competition. But even more, I see this as an opportunity to support and friendly spar each other. This event also made it clear how important it is to have organizations like Health Capital Helsinki, Health Incubator Helsinki and Health Founders,” said Tuomo Pentikäinen from VEIL.AI.

“Migrevention team is grateful for the opportunity to take part in Health Founders Accelerator’s and Health Incubator Helsinki’s joint Demo Day. The event was a unique opportunity to introduce our idea of changing migraine management to an audience interested in health. We are honored to be selected as one of the winners by the expert jury. Above all, it shows the impact of the health care problem we are solving and the urgent need for the solution,” added Katrina Laks from Migrevention.

Innovative solution to global healthcare issues

The teams were judged by an international panel of experts Dr Joseph Mocanu (Verge HealtTech Fund), Rocco van den Berg (Philips Ventures), Riku Seppälä (Icebreaker VC) and Juha Paakkola (Health Capital Helsinki). The jury appreciated the chance to see so many high-quality, innovative startups choosing to focus on serious, unaddressed problems in healthcare that affect millions of people around the world.

“Health Economy Demo Day 2021 was a great kick off for collaboration between Helsinki and Tallinn health startup ecosystems. Many of the companies pitching presented new ways to help patients and healthcare on a global scale,” concluded Juha Paakkola, Health Capital Helsinki.


About Health Founders
Health Founders is the first health economy accelerator in the Baltics with a mission to launch 100 new health tech companies over the next 10 years. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, the unique program brings together ambitious founders, experienced mentors and forward-looking industry partners to build the future of health. The accelerator is open for new applications for 2021: https://healthfounders.ee

About Health Incubator Helsinki
Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program in Finland for research-based, early-stage teams and start-ups operating in the health sector. The incubator, initiated by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki and operating in close co-operation with Health Capital Helsinki, started operations in 2020 with a first batch of 12 brilliant start-ups under its wing. Health Incubator Helsinki is open for new applications 1-28 February 2021, read more here.

Health Incubator Helsinki open for applications in February

Health Incubator Helsinki open for applications in February

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Do you have an amazing idea in the health sector?

Banner with Health Incubator Helsinki’s logo. In the photo there are six people posing for a picture. The text of the photo says; We’ve seen different types of incubators and accelerators and Health Incubator Helsinki really stands out with its competence. A quote from VEIL.AI.

Health Incubator Helsinki, Finland’s first long-term business development environment for research-based health sector startups, is welcoming new applications from 1 February until 15 March 2021. After the selection process, approximately 12 teams will be chosen for the program to start in May 2021.

When you’re starting a business, you need to be where the talented people are. When it comes to health, Greater Helsinki has a lot to offer: A connected ecosystem of a world-class healthcare system with research universities, hospitals and facilities, and a vibrant start-up scene.

Health Incubator Helsinki is a comprehensive incubator program for research-based, early-stage teams and start-ups operating in the health sector. The incubator, initiated by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki and operating in close co-operation with Health Capital Helsinki, started operations in 2020 with a first batch of 12 brilliant start-ups under its wing.

Be part of a vibrant health community – apply by 15 March

Health Incubator Helsinki is now open for applications for the next program, starting in May 2021. The application period opens on 1 February and closes on 15 March 2021.

After the application period, interviews will be scheduled with selected candidates in March 2021. Approximately 12 teams will be accepted into the program.

If you have a business idea related to the health sector, Health Incubator Helsinki could be right for you. Most of the businesses the incubator supports are research-based.

The incubator provides the selected startups with the infrastructure and advice needed to succeed. The teams get long-term (up to three years) support including tailored mentoring and advice, invaluable networking opportunities with investors, established healthcare industry experts, innovative entrepreneurs and expert advisors, as well as office and co-working space. Apart from a minor fee for the office space, the incubator services are free for the participants. The incubator does not take any equity in the companies.

Read more and apply by 15 March.

Read the stories of the start-ups who have already joined Health Incubator Helsinki.

Follow Health Incubator Helsinki on LinkedIn for latest updates.

Contact information:

Christian Lardot, Incubator Leader, tel. +358 40 195 2639, christian.lardot@hel.fi.

BrainCare has a vision for remote, long-term neurological monitoring with an emphasis on epilepsy

BrainCare has a vision for remote, long-term neurological monitoring with an emphasis on epilepsy

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A person holds hands on his face.
Diary Apps have become more common in treating illnesses. Katrina Wendel-Mitoraj, PhD, wanted to develop an easy-to-use diary app for epilepsy patients. Her spin-off company from Tampere University of Technology, BrainCare Oy, was launched in 2013 to accomplish that – and more. The startup focuses on implant technology for ultra-long-term monitoring.

Since 2015, Katrina Wendel-Mitoraj has continued to interview doctors and nurses to develop her solution. Along the way, it became apparent that a whole range of neurological illnesses could benefit from a diary app.

“We are serious about helping people with epilepsy, headaches, migraine, narcolepsy, multiple sclerosis, myoclonus and dystonia to better manage their life and treatment,” she lists, adding that, your diary and doctor can now be in your pocket – with you at all times.

Working with TAYS, Tampere University Hospital, BrainCare conducted clinical trials in 2015-2016, and, finally in August 2016 SOENIA® Medical Diary and its complementary SOENIA® Cloud for healthcare providers received a CE mark as a medical device.

“SOENIA® is the world’s first medical device rated Epilepsy Diary App,” Wendel-Mitoraj explains. Collaboration with TAYS has continued, and for the last four years, the hospital has been using the device – and finding it extremely handy:

“SOENIA® Medical Diary symptom inputs sync straight to the Cloud, where the medical personnel can see them in real-time,” she says.

Life & death data on seizures

Actually, there are two additional devices here: SOENIA® UltimateEEG™ Electrode and SOENIA® UltimateEEG™ Implant. Together the SOENIA® UltimateEEG™ technology enables remote, ultra-long-term monitoring for neurologists and their epilepsy patients, offering a better quality of life for these patients to be continuously and remotely monitored in their normal daily routines instead of 4-day EEG recordings at the hospital.

“SOENIA® UltimateEEG™ Electrode & Implant combines an electrode that is placed under skin to collect data on the seizures, for example, how many seizures the patient has had,” she explains.

Katrina Wendel-Mitoraj

Katrina Wendel-Mitoraj

In 2020, the team CE-marked the SOENIA® UltimateEEG™ Electrode for surface EEG measurements leading up to the first subdermal implantation at Tampere University Hospital in 2021 together with neurologist Prof. Jukka Peltola, MD, PhD, and neurosurgeon Dr. Kai Lehtimäki, MD, PhD.

Still, as Wendel-Mitoraj has been identifying key doctors in various departments that would benefit from the app, she has noticed that winning over doctors and other medical personnel in Finnish hospitals isn’t easy. She feels that there is sometimes hesitation to try out something new.

“Finland is not always an early adopter country in this regard, even if there is proven technology orientation here,” she says, hinting that the UK medical community may offer more potential for the innovation.

Lone star rising

Hailing from Texas, Wendel-Mitoraj has lived in Finland for 17 years now.

“I got my Master’s Degree and PhD from the Tampere University of Technology,” she says. Her doctoral dissertation in Biomedical Engineering catapulted her to thinking about entrepreneurship.

“When you have an engineer transitioning towards business, that can come with some issues,” she laughs.

Having had private funding and also Business Finland funding to the tune of EUR 500,000, Wendel-Mitoraj submitted a patent application for the subdermal electrode prior to spinning out of the university already in November 2014 – and, finally, in June 2020, not one but two patents came through in Australia and Taiwan.

“It was a wild ride, but we got it,” she says.

In addition to the patent breakthrough, she’s also excited about her involvement at the Health Incubator Helsinki.

“There are very knowledgeable coaches there who really care. The advice we get is always high-level,” she says.

Logo of Soenia by BrainCare Oy

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: BrainCare Oy

Products: SOENIA® Medical Diary & Cloud

Future Products: UltimateEEG™ Electrode & Implant

Founded: 2013 (active operations since 2015)

Target customer/market: Neurology patients and their neurological doctors and medical staff around the world

 

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: BrainCare
Cover photo: Unsplash

Sartar Therapeutics wants to revolutionize sarcoma therapy

Sartar Therapeutics wants to revolutionize sarcoma therapy

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Two people hold each other's hand.

Today, the focus of cancer therapy is continuously moving towards more personalized medicine. However, very few efficacious therapies are available for sarcomas. For example, advanced soft-tissue sarcomas are rare and often lethal cancers, posing problems for doctors.

There is a clear, presently unmet need to find new therapies for the broad and heterogeneous group of sarcomas, says Katja Ivanitskiy, CEO of Sartar Therapeutics.

“We are committed to delivering innovative, therapeutic options for the patients who currently have no specific therapies – and also for those who have exhausted all currently available options,” she explains.

Sartar exploits principles of precision medicine, drug repurposing and reformulation to provide effective cancer therapies to the global markets. The startup deploys a unique academic discovery pipeline to identify novel therapeutic agents acting on human cancer cells.

“Repurposing and reformulation enable fast, cost-effective and de-risked development of the first-in-class therapeutics for specific subgroups of sarcomas,” Ivanitskiy says. “As a group of rare and very rare cancers, sarcomas provide many opportunities for a fast-track regulatory path using the orphan designation.”

Katja Ivanitskiy

Katja Ivanitskiy, CEO of Sartar Therapeutics

Sarcomas common with children

According to Ivanitskiy, soft-tissue sarcomas represent a rare and heterogenous group of mesenchymal tumors, accounting for 1% of all adult cancers and more than 7% of all pediatric cancers. It is estimated that approximately 0.4% of people will be diagnosed with a soft-tissue sarcoma during their lifetime.

“Localized soft-tissue sarcomas are treated with surgery, with or without post-operative radiotherapy, with a high success rate, but few – if any – efficacious therapies are available for patients with metastatic tumors; 25-30% of these people die from cancer within five years of diagnosis,” says Ivanitskiy.

GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor) is the exception among soft-tissue sarcomas, as there are precision medicines available to treat it. Ivanitskiy explains that a genetic mutation activates either KIT or platelet-derived growth factor alpha receptors abnormally, which enables the continuous growth and division of tumor cells.

“About 40% of patients, including those who have metastatic disease or tumors with a high risk of recurrence, are treated with KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha-targeting small molecule compounds such as imatinib. These therapeutics are effective, but eventually most GISTs become resistant to therapy, and novel approaches to treat GISTs are needed,” she believes.

Fighting GISTs

Sartar’s first precision medicine product to treat these tumors, SAR001, specifically targets the PDE3A protein, which is frequently expressed in GIST and other soft-tissue tumors.

“With treating GIST, we’ve already had great success and are looking to build on that,” she says. According to a market study commissioned by Sartar, a proven medicine for GIST alone could achieve sales of €550 million in the EU and US markets.

Harri Sihto, Chairman of the Board of Sartar Therapeutics, says that the work of the company is rooted on the research done by Heikki Joensuu and his team in 2013. The idea seemed so promising that the company was launched in 2016, also for the purpose of seeking a patent for the innovation.

“SAR001 worked in animal testing and we were confident that it would work with human patients too,” he explains. After getting the word out on the discovery, other people became interested too – and, finally, in autumn 2020, Sartar corralled €2.3 million in seed money in just six days.

With the immediate funding needs being taken care of, Katja Ivanitskiy and Harri Sihto have a clear plan for the future:

“We’re looking for suitable partners to conduct additional research,”  Ivanitskiy says, adding that once the company has completed Phases I and II within a few years, also bigger players of the medical industry might take an interest on the development.

Harri Sihto

Harri Sihto, Chairman of the Board of Sartar Therapeutics

Empowered by Incubator

Participating in Health Incubator Helsinki is one part of Sartar’s growth journey. Ivanitskiy and Sihto feel that it has been important to receive quality mentoring and connect with other startup entrepreneurs of the same field.

“It’s something that brings us energy and helps us expand our professional network,” they say.

In the ranks of health tech startups, you find plenty of apps, portals and platforms – all digital and decidedly disruptive. Then how about a bit more traditional approach, where you’re developing an actual cure? – Harri Sihto admits that talking with some investors, Sartar has felt like “the odd man out” at times.

“Not that many investors are familiar with the development of actual therapies, so it has been a learning experience on both sides,” he says.

Logo of Sartar Therapeutics.

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Sartar Therapeutics Ltd

Product: Developing new therapies for sarcomas (type of cancer)

Founded: 2016

Team size: 4

Target customer/market: Sarcoma patients around the world

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Sartar
Cover photo: Unsplash

VULCAM fights off sports injuries with advanced 2D video technology

VULCAM fights off sports injuries with advanced 2D video technology

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Musculoskeletal injuries occur often in all sports – too often. Many of the injuries could be prevented with technology and new solutions. VULCAM is a new, exciting tool for preventing and evaluating injuries, as well as for injury rehabilitation, made by a Finnish startup Vulcan Vision.

Founder Asko Roine points out that according to WHO, musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries are the most common source of physical disability – leading to inability to continue a desired physical activity, reduced capability, or even premature retirement.

VULCAM, on the other hand, can provide single-handed capture of multi-angle, time-synchronized video with iPads, iPhones and iPods. But why is this significant from the perspective of stopping injuries? – The recorded movements can instantly be analyzed for injury prevention, rehabilitation and performance improvement, answers Roine.

VULCAM video of Ryan Crouser, USA, who won the gold medal in the shot put at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Crouser is an active user of VULCAM.

“VULCAM 2D video technology is the leading tool to capture synchronized images of multiple planes of motion in one go, using several existing or off-the-shelf iOS mobile devices,” Roine says. “What’s more, VULCAM can make this uniquely more powerful with computer vision and artificial intelligence.”

According to Roine, VULCAM’s approach to utilize the mobile devices people already have also makes it a very affordable solution in comparison to the competitors.

Going visual 

But how did Roine get started on his path as a health tech entrepreneur? – Roine begins his response by saying that visuality has always been a very important element in his life. He is convinced that dyslexia has made him more aware of the importance of visuality.

“As visuality is the backbone of all movement learning for humans, I saw a need for our solution. The possibility of helping people stay healthy, recover from their injuries and avoid new injuries, as well as get better and safer results, drives me to pursue the development of VULCAM,” he says.

The development of the technology kicked off in 2015 and the very first product was sold the following year, and to no-other than the US Olympic team.

“The fully scalable product hit the market in 2019,” Roine adds.

Picture of VULCAM's app displayed on a tablet.

Stay flexible

With an office in Philadelphia, VULCAM’s main market is North America, and specifically the United States, known for its fervent approach to all things athletic. However, while VULCAM has clients such as the University of Southern California, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Dutch Olympic training centers, COVID-19 has all but closed the markets.

“We have been looking for a more flexible and scalable solution that would benefit all,” Roine says, explaining that integrating computer vision and AI – with the help of the company’s world-leading customers – should ensure great success in the future.

Still, being a participant in Health Incubator Helsinki, is it not complicated to “go transatlantic” all the time? – Roine says that since the company entered the US markets at such an early stage, it has had very limited connections in Finland.

“Presently, not being able to travel to the US, we saw that HIH would be a great place for us to get these vital connections.”

Due to COVID, the journey with the Incubator has had a slow start, but Roine is happy to report that it is speeding up now. “We are getting more and more opportunities,” he says.

Platform for success

In Roine’s mind, Finland is a great launching pad for a startup, since the country has world-class universities and research institutes that can be a great strength for startups in the health sector.

“That being said, startups need to start looking outside the Finnish borders for expanding their growth and to secure funding at a very early stage. This is something that can be daunting for some founders, but we have great partnerships that can be utilized for helping the journey,” he says, adding that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has always been very helpful in supporting his company’s mission.

VULCAM's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: VULCAM

Product: VULCAM 2D video technology captures synchronized images of multiple planes of motion in one go, using several existing or off-the-shelf iOS mobile devices.

Scalable product launch: 2019

Team size: 3                     

Target customer/market: Sports Medicine/Physical Therapy/Sports Coaching, starting from the US markets.

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Video and photo: VULCAM

VEIL.AI takes data anonymization and synthetization to the next level

VEIL.AI takes data anonymization and synthetization to the next level

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Researcher in a laboratory.

There are vast amounts of health data that can not be properly used because it is sensitive, containing information of identifiable private citizens. However, if these privacy issues could be solved, this would open up brand new horizons for betterment of science – and, ultimately, people’s health. Helsinki startup VEIL.AI is developing advanced anonymization of data and ground-breaking synthetic data to solve this problem.

“Our unique technology makes it possible to use health data in ways that were not possible before,” says Tuomo Pentikäinen, CEO and Co-Founder of VEIL.AI.

VEIL.AI wants to facilitate accessibility and use of sensitive health data for new discoveries and better decision-making in healthcare. “We are committed to safe-keeping individual privacy with maximum privacy protection and data utility,” adds Pentikäinen.

As far as privacy is concerned, data security is different depending on the data content. The highest risk is with raw or original data, where all the identifying information is available. This is, obviously, high risk data.

“The next step is pseudonymized data where personal identifiers are masked to some degree. However, with some effort, the identities can often be figured out,” Pentikäinen describes this medium risk category.

Then there is anonymized data which has been scrubbed of all identifiable data and, also, of variable combinations that can be utilized to infer data subjects’ identity – this constitutes low risk data.

“Finally, there is synthetic data which is statistical data based on real data and data models. Here, the risk is minimal.”

Future is synthetic

According to Pentikäinen, synthetic data is a totally new philosophy of putting data together. “In the coming years, we expect the use of synthetic data to really take off.”

Anonymization and synthetization techniques can be used to achieve higher data quality and support those use cases when data comes from many sources.

“These techniques also comply better with GDPR and support use of Real World Data (RWD). Furthermore, there’s better privacy protection of real-time data and also complicated data types, such as genome, imaging and free text.”

In addition, the technology guarantees faster access to data and easier negotiation between data owners (controllers) and users.

Tuomo Pentikäinen

Tuomo Pentikäinen, CEO and Co-Founder of VEIL.AI

Anonymization engine up & running

At the core of VEIL.AI, we find the company’s anonymization engine: a brand new, powerful approach to de-identify personal or otherwise sensitive data.

“The anonymization engine facilitates sharing and analyzing data in low or zero-trust environments and ensures that neither anonymity nor data quality is compromised,” explains Pentikäinen.

The anonymization engine can be used at three levels: One-off anonymizations (e.g. piloting, research projects); continuous anonymization service (e.g. biobanks data access point); and as part of system architecture (e.g. anonymization competence and user interface implemented into hospital data lake).

The startup can handle several interesting data types, both in the realms of structured data and unstructured data. Under structured data, there are data types such as biobank data, registry data, clinical data and survey data. Unstructured data may be, for example, geo-location, genome or imaging data.

Team of VEIL.AI, six people posing for a picture.

VEIL. AI team members from left: Teemu Perheentupa, Robert Mills, Tuomo Pentikäinen, Mehreen Ali, Timo Miettinen and Janna Saarela

Expert edge

VEIL.AI is a spin-off from FIMM, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, which, in turn, is a research institute under the University of Helsinki. While VEIL.AI was established in February 2020, the technology in question has been in the works for about five years.

“Our key technology personnel have an experience of more than 20 years in demanding sensitive health data management projects,” says Pentikäinen.

VEIL.AI is one of the companies participating in Health Incubator Helsinki. Pentikäinen credits the program for a well-constructed process:

“We’ve seen different types of incubators and accelerators and Health Incubator Helsinki really stands out with its competence,” Pentikäinen says, adding that the experienced business mentors of the incubator can certainly push the participating startups onwards.

“We’re also very excited to be a part of a program where there are so many interesting companies from our field.”

VEIL.AI's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: VEIL.AI

Product: Synthetization, anonymization and pseudonymization of health data

Founded: 2020

Team size: 9

Target customer/market: Pharma companies, hospitals, service providers for Life Science and Healthcare actors in the Nordic countries and Europe

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: VEIL.AI
Cover photo: FIMM Biobanking Infrastructures

SCellex targets single cell resolution to boost cancer research

SCellex targets single cell resolution to boost cancer research

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Better understanding of cancer provides scientific keys to combating the disease itself. Helsinki startup SCellex is developing a novel spatial gene sequencing technology that links microscope image to the sequence data – a “genetic microscope,” of sorts. This will allow for closer scrutiny of cells and their interactions.

Päivi Saavalainen, CEO and Founder of SCellex, says that spatial gene sequencing technology enables expression profiling of all genes of cells – at their original location in tissues in single cell resolution. This has impact on biomedical research, as it helps to discover the locations, roles and interactions of different cell types both in healthy tissues and diseases. The technology also allows for the exploration of their key marker genes as potential drug targets.

“Single cell technology is only now targeting the tissue itself. Our technology will provide the best resolution,” she explains.

Päivi Saavalainen

Päivi Saavalainen, CEO and Founder of SCellex.

Get to the core

Thanks to the superb resolution, researchers can focus on a single cell and see how cells react to each other. Discovering, for instance, distinct cancer patterns and subtypes becomes so much easier with a better research tool, Saavalainen believes.

At the first phase, the spatial gene sequencing technology is meant for research use only.

“A diagnostic tool may well be in the cards later on.”

Saavalainen is an immunogeneticist at the University of Helsinki who wants to understand the role of immune system in autoimmune diseases and cancers and, ultimately, to improve the diagnostics and treatment options for these diseases. Her Immunomics group works with single cell technologies to increase the resolution in these studies.

Along the way, she has developed the spatial gene sequencing technology based on her invention of which the University relinquished all intellectual property rights to her in 2016.

“I received important mentoring from SPARK Finland and got the courage to launch a company around this technology,” she looks back. SCellex Oy was founded in September 2018.

Päivi Saavalainen

Only 24 hours per day

Running a startup and holding down a demanding day-job is no small feat – and Saavalainen confesses that time is frequently a critical issue.

“Often I feel that this is just too crazy and all my time is consumed by my work. But then I think that this is just something that I simply have to see through – or I will regret it later.”

The startup got an extra boost in the summer of 2020, as a Business Finland backed pilot started with the cancer research consortium CancerIO.

“This winter we want to push the technology to the service level and market it to researchers as a service we can provide.”

 

Peer support, please!

Another new development is SCellex’s participation in Health Incubator Helsinki program. Saavalainen feels that rounding up startups from the same sector is an inspiring concept:

“That way you get the peer support that you need, in addition to quality mentoring.”

These types of “meetings of the minds” are important also since health tech doesn’t attract as many angel investors as some other industries.

“There are not that many investors out there that are really focused on this field,” she says, but adds that the situation may change in the coming years.

For her, it took some time to understand that turning an invention – even a good one – into a solid product requires plenty of effort.

“Things take their own time, and we are still in the beginning of our startup journey but I’ve learned already a lot – and feel that I’m heading in the right direction.”

SCellex's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: SCellex Oy

Product: Single cell sequencing method with X-Y coordinates

Founded: 2018

Team size: 5

Target customer/market: Biomedical researchers, pharma and diagnostics R&D

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Sebastian Soidinsalo

Healthzilla launches a personalized digital lifestyle intervention

Healthzilla launches a personalized digital lifestyle intervention

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Photo of Healtzilla’s app in smart watch.

The alarmingly rising costs of lifestyle diseases are currently burdening healthcare systems around the globe. People’s everyday lives can be incredibly taxing – but what can you do?

Helsinki startup Healthzilla wants to tackle this formidable challenge. Its solution? – A SaaS platform which enables organizations to provide a personalized digital lifestyle intervention at scale – thanks to Healthzilla’s intelligent use of real-time stress and habits data.

“Compared to other players in the market, our solution is fully automated and does not require special – and expensive – hardware,” says Laura Ranin, Founder & CEO, Healthzilla.

“Our ability to gather and analyze stress and habits data at scale with artificial intelligence is something unique. So is also the way we provide the end-user with personal, daily insights and data-driven recommendations on how to build and maintain healthy habits to reach their health goal,” she explains.

Picture of Healthzilla's app displayed on computer and smartphone screens.

“Do the reps!”

Healthzilla is the brainchild of two Finns living abroad who wanted to optimize their training and wellbeing in the midst of family life and demanding career paths. Healthzilla started as an app to automate workouts with intelligent algorithms to calculate sets, weights, and reps and has since evolved into a vision of automated wellness with a heavy focus on habit building science and stress management.

“The team has grown organically over the past few years, as we’ve had a bunch of like-minded health enthusiasts joining us as co-founders, advisors and employees. We are grateful to be surrounded and supported by such a fantastic team,” says Ranin.

Health and wellbeing has always been a passion of the founding team members. According to Ranin, working in the field of health allows the Healthzilla crew to “do something meaningful” at work.

“And it definitely helps to keep our spirits up in the middle of all the startup struggles and hurdles,” she laughs.

Automatic for the people

Ranin believes that the shift from treatment of disease to prevention – a change accelerated by Covid-19 – is creating a new kind of health & wellness market. Healthzilla wants to be in the thick of the action, helping the relevant industry players and companies to improve the quality of life of their customers and employees through intelligent automation.

“Our mission of helping people increase their healthspan with healthy habits will be achieved through tight collaboration with partners and customers, hard work and grit, and an endless growth mindset,” she lays down the game plan.

Being involved with Health Incubator Helsinki amidst a global pandemic has made the journey quite different from what it would have been otherwise. The Healthzilla team has spent a lot less time at the Terkko Health Hub office space designated for the startup than they would have liked – and the same goes for unofficial networking with the other startups in the program.

“Naturally, the best we can do given the circumstances is to try to find the silver lining in the present situation, and put our focus and energy on things we can have a meaningful impact on,” Ranin says.

Healthzilla team, four people posing for a picture.

From left Aki Ranin (CTO), Niko Ratala (CFO), Laura Ranin (CEO) and Tommi Ryyppö (COO) from the Healthzilla team.

 

Learning experience

Looking ahead, Healthzilla’s main expectations for Health Incubator Helsinki involve getting hands-on support with developing its business. Help related to sales and marketing, partnerships, recruitment and funding is very welcome indeed – as well as with all things related to administration.

“A key short-term goal for our company, with which we hope to receive crucial support, is securing seed funding followed by development and execution of a kick-ass go-to-market strategy,” Ranin says.

Talking about Finland’s strengths as a “Startup Central,” Ranin points out that Finland has an active startup ecosystem where a lot of help and support can be found as long as you know where to ask.

“Availability of resources, especially highly educated, talented people, is definitely a strength. Another strong element is public funding which enables founders to grow their business without diluting their ownership too much too early. Also, the costs of living – as well as talent – compared to many other startup hubs in the world are very reasonable.”

Logo of Healthzilla

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Healthzilla

Product: Personalized digital lifestyle intervention platform utilizing real-time stress and habits data in an intelligent manner

Founded: 2019

Team size: 7

Target customer/market: Innovative, health-conscious businesses in health & fitness, workplace wellness, and insurance industries looking to support the wellbeing of their customers and employees

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Healthzilla

Uute Scientific introduces natural microbes to cosmetic products to boost immune systems

Uute Scientific introduces natural microbes to cosmetic products to boost immune systems

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Plant extract on leaves.

How does life without immune-mediated diseases sound to you? Helsinki startup Uute Scientific Oy is working towards accomplishing just that, taking on, for instance, diabetes type 1, allergies and asthma. These immune-mediated diseases are a big problem waiting to be solved, says CEO, Co-Founder Kari Sinivuori.

“These diseases are caused by our modern and urban lifestyle. Us drifting away from nature, with its microbial diversity, has made our immune-system weaker,” Kari Sinivuori says, adding that there is a lack of microbial diversity especially during childhood, when it is being developed.

Presently, there are about a hundred different types of immune-mediated diseases. In the EU alone, the cost of immune-mediated diseases is around € 100 billion a year, and it continues to grow as people move to cities at increasing rates.

What is the solution, then? Uute Scientific Oy has come up with a product called Reconnecting Nature™ to fix the situation.

“It is a microbial extract which brings the microbial diversity of natural environments back to people’s everyday life, helping them in the development and maintaining of a strong immune system,” Sinivuori sums up.

Reconnecting Nature™ can come in the form of, for example, a very fine powder or other material shapes. The extract is meant to get in contact with the skin: it is mixed with or integrated to daily consumer products that get in contact with children’s skin, such as, for example, fabrics and creams.

Targeting cosmetics

According to Sinivuori, the initial research started to focus on the problem around 2015. Under the ADELE ecosystem project, implemented by the University of Helsinki and Tampere University and funded by Business Finland, the research team has moved towards adding an extract to Finnish cosmetic products.

“Then patent was filed in 2016 and the company finally founded in 2019,” he looks back.

The first seed financing round took place this year, and the relevant IPR were purchased from the University of Helsinki and University of Tampere soon after. Finally, on October 15, 2020, the extract went to market: Finnish Luonkos Oy and Forest Pharmacy Oy launched products that feature Reconnecting Nature™ in order to strengthen skin microbiome.

Luonkos forest cakes Infinity and Vitality

Luonkos forest cakes Infinity and Vitality

Moi Forest skincare products by Forest Pharmacy

Moi Forest skincare products by Forest Pharmacy

Comprehensive reach

Kari Sinivuori explains that Uute Scientific Oy’s microbial extract contains thousands of species compared to one, or at most a few species, which, for example, are already more familiar as probiotic products that have been on the market for a long time.

“Most of Uute Scientific Oy’s microbial extract is slow-growing microbes that cannot currently be grown in laboratory conditions. In addition to bacteria, unicellular nucleated micro-organisms as well as genuine nuclear microbes are also involved.”

Together, this diverse spectrum of microbial species can provide the immune system with a complex stimulus on the skin that cannot be achieved with the use of only a few species.

“The potential for our microbial extract is huge in the future; it could be added to edible, drinkable or wearable products, or it could also become medicine,” Sinivuori says.

“I believe this will be a major European invention and we make life free of immune mediated diseases with our fast-moving consumer goods companies.”

 
Team of Uute Scientific, six people posing for a picture.

The Uute Scientific Co-Founders from left: Olli Laitinen, Rita Nordin, Oliver Boldt, Kari Sinivuori, Heikki Hyöty and Aki Sinkkonen. Recently, Product Manager Iida Mäkelä has joined the Uute Scientific team. 

Learning the Ropes

Currently, Uute Scientific is participating in Health Incubator Helsinki. Sinivuori says that Covid-19 has made it difficult to participate in the incubator sessions, but he is hopeful about what comes next:

“As situation improves, we expect to get good mentoring from the experienced team members.”

Talking about Finland’s strengths as a “health tech heaven,” Sinivuori says that the situation is pretty solid.

“There is good education and research here and Business Finland offers good funding packages, for example.”

Logo of Uute Scientific

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Uute Scientific Oy

Product: Reconnecting Nature™ microbe extract

Founded: 2019

Team size: 7

Target customer/market: FMCGs / Global

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Uute Scientific

Sciar is looking for investments

Sciar wants to bring better documentation to the laboratories through modern tech solutions

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Researcher in the laboratory.

In laboratories around the world, there is the same problem: as research is being conducted, the documentation of the research findings is frequently compromised in some manner. Science requires accurate, detailed information – but extracting that raw data from the labs is surprisingly difficult.

Kristian Alaviuhkola, Co-Founder of Sciar Company Ltd, says that the challenge here has to do with old-school tools: relying on paper and pen, for instance, to get the results down and onwards to a database

“With digitalization, you can build processes which bring automatic documentation tools to the laboratory environment,” he says.

Sciar has created a Quality Management software which utilizes automated documentation, as well as an Augmented Reality workflow tool, to rectify the problem.

“Once the data is correct, you’re able to repeat the same experiment and get the same results – which is not always the case today.”

As errors are recognized and minimized, repeatability improves – thus boosting the quality of the research itself. “Our goal is to enhance the quality of the researcher’s work as well as the quality of the data.”


Plan & execute

The Sciar product is two-fold: there is the Sciar cloud-based software and then the Sciar mobile application.

“The software plans the processes in the lab beforehand and manages them. The software is both interactive and intuitive in providing the lab worker with instructions on what to do from a documentation viewpoint.”

The Sciar app completes the picture, making sure the lab worker moves from one work phase to another one in a correct manner. The app is presently being developed and it’s coming soon to Android smart phones and pads.

“Right now, we’re still using AR glasses to achieve the same documentation effect, but we’re expecting the mobile app to be even more helpful for our customers.”

According to Alaviuhkola, as long as you automate the workflow and dataflow, the emerging information will be solid through-and-through. “When you report the findings correctly in each case, that makes the scientists’ lives so much easier.”

Streamlining science

The origin of Sciar dates back to 2017 when Alaviuhkola got together with fellow students Joel Noutere and Felix Erkinheimo. They wondered why are laboratories documenting their findings like it’s the Middle Ages – is there a chance for digitalization to rectify the situation?

“We interviewed hundreds of scientists and other professionals to find out, was this a real problem or just something in our heads. Turned out, it was real.”

As a consequence, the three partners founded Sciar in July 2018. The fledgling company picked up momentum in December 2019, as it started a pilot with the University of Helsinki to study automated documentation.

“What we need next is a solid commercial pilot to determine product market fit,” Alaviuhkola says, adding that negotiations about this step are on-going.

Right now, Sciar is participating in Health Incubator Helsinki, with already a few of workshops under its belt.

“The incubator customizes its content for the different teams and really zeroes in on what you need,” Alaviuhkola says.


This is your captain speaking

Alaviuhkola is perhaps not your typical startup entrepreneur, since he had been flying commercial airplanes for 20 years before pivoting to a completely new direction. How’s the life of a tech entrepreneur treating him?

“Entrepreneurship in Finland today is something that is encouraged and appreciated which has not always been the case. There’s also a lot of support available now – another improvement from the past.”

As there are no speed limits on science, Alaviuhkola is happy to be a part of this new information revolution.

“Startups bring those new innovations that the society needs. I guess we all want to make things better in some way.”

Sciar's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Sciar Company Oy

Product: Quality management software with Augmented Reality workflow tool and automated documentation

Founded: 2018

Team size: 8

Target customer/market: Life Science (Pharma, Biotech), Chemical industry and other industrial R&D and QA

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Sciar
Cover photo: Keksi Agency via City of Helsinki

Terkko Health Hub three years – Developing healthcare through cooperation and innovation

Terkko Health Hub three years – Developing healthcare through cooperation and innovation

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Two people on stage at an event.

Terkko Health Hub, which marks its third anniversary this autumn, has been engaged from the outset in promoting a new form of collaboration between research, enterprise and healthcare in the field of health and life sciences. This centre for startups is a joint project of the University of Helsinki and HUS Helsinki University Hospital. It shows the value of a collaborative culture for creating socially significant innovations.

When a healthcare research team or business comes up with an idea, a long path lies ahead. The route to adoption of a healthcare product is expensive, tightly regulated and has very many stages. Before it can be accepted for public use, it must undergo extensive studies in its operating environment to guarantee safety. Its financiers must be patient; they will generally have to wait for quite a while for a return on their investment. 

At the same time, there is a significant need for new innovations in healthcare. New equipment can free up the skills of nursing staff for work that machines cannot perform, such as the humane encountering of patients and finding creative solutions. Patient safety can also improve as new, properly studied and tested equipment comes into the market.

Technology Officer Pekka Kahri, responsible for public-private coordination at HUS Helsinki University Hospital, sees major potential in collaboration.

“We seek to work with all the most promising health technology startups that offer interesting solutions for relevant problems of patient care or clinical needs. Collaboration is founded on a clinical pilot study, in which the hospital units interested and the specialists concerned play a key role.”

The key to creating health and life science innovations is to get representatives of the different fields around the same table. Terkko Health Hub has been operating in the modernized Meilahti Campus Library building since autumn 2017. It combines three worlds that are traditionally separate from one another – business, healthcare and research. Today the health and life science hub leases rooms and desks to 45 companies and also supports their growth by arranging training, events and mentored networking opportunities. It is a place where 200 events of every sort take place each year.

In autumn 2020, Terkko Health Hub’s operations were complemented by Health Incubator Helsinki, a unique three-year incubator program for research-driven teams and startups in the health and life science sectors. The program is a joint project of the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki. It aims to transform health innovation, research findings and skills into commercial products and international business.

Terkko Health Hub offers comprehensive assistance and consultation for companies at various stages. Initial support for entrepreneurs is aimed at taking their ideas forward, while more advanced businesses are helped in reaching international markets. The Terkko Health X accelerator program, being arranged for the second time this autumn, provides mentoring to researchers and early-stage startups in developing business skills and acquiring contacts. The hub’s flagship event series Health Talks deals with topical subjects in the field from the viewpoint of enterprise and innovation. It’s organized together with the partners from Helsinki, Espoo, Oulu and Kuopio. Next year it aims to engage health actors from all major cities of Finland under one umbrella. 

Terkko Health Hub also brings corporate partners into the community. The agile and innovative work style of startups coupled with the structured and professional attitude of corporates creates a perfect collaboration benefiting both parties. 

A collaborative culture also broadens career possibilities. For example, the future professional identity of medical students need not be restricted tightly to work in the field. There are other job opportunities available, such as in development, consulting and specialist functions.

“We can expect the job of a physician and the scope of healthcare to change a lot in the future,” says Professor Risto Renkonen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki. “Innovations that improve work efficiency and care effectiveness are crucially significant for ensuring service capacity and the best care of patients. These will require close cooperation between innovation activities and medical research.” 

One outcome of collaboration in Terkko Health Hub is recruitment by startups. Some of the companies have found new employees from the campus, among the medical students of the University of Helsinki. The future will be shaped by combining different fields of expertise and sharing information, says Professor Olli Silvennoinen, director of the Helsinki Institute of Life Science HiLIFE.

“It is the positive duty of every researcher to utilise research findings,” he believes. “The path from a laboratory result to a product or information that benefits patients and society demands special high-quality expertise. The systematic development of these operations is vitally important now and will be in the future.”

Photos: Terkko Health Hub

Finnish health tech startup MedicubeX raised a seed round of €0.3M

MedicubeX brings healthcare to you – via automation

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MedicubeX's logo
In today’s medical practice, it takes a medical professional to examine a patient and take his/her vitals at the point of care. But how about… tomorrow? Helsinki-based startup MedicubeX wants to be the leading provider of eHealth stations in Europe in five years.

As it stands, technology has yet to meet challenges, since personal monitoring devices and wearables are designed for fitness and wellness – not for predicting or treating diseases, says Co-founder, CEO Vili Kostamo from startup MedicubeX.

“We want to give patients, and people in general, a more active role in their own health,” says Kostamo.

MedicubeX Ltd is hard at work developing an autonomous eHealth station that can measure vital signs and personal cardiovascular disease risk factors – in just five minutes. The station is built inside a Framery acoustic booth for the best possible soundproofing and privacy. The interior is equipped with next-gen light-based disinfection keeping the user safe from microbes.

“Autonomous, non-invasive measurements prior to general practitioner or specialist appointments can free up valuable time or enable remote appointments. In communities, the MedicubeX eHealth concept provides a highly scalable solution for preventive healthcare – everyone can check their health status and react in time without assistance,” explains Kostamo.

MedicubeX's eHealth station

Harness the trend

The story behind MedicubeX started when co-founders Heikki Rautajoki and Vili Kostamo first came together in a joint Academy of FinlandUniversity of HelsinkiHUS VTT research project for non-invasive diabetes screening in 2016. Later in 2018 – inspired by the prospects of noninvasive testing – discussions on emerging retail clinics started which would later lead to the founding of MedicubeX. The founders probed the field of autonomous, non-invasive health kiosks and potential tech contributors in Europe, seeing the beginnings of a rising trend.

Vili Kostamo became the CEO of the startup that was finally founded in March 2020, after three years of preparation. Just about to graduate as an MD from the University of Helsinki, Kostamo has already done clinical work in multiple different environments.

“I feel this has given me a fresh outlook on different operational strategies and conditions currently at play in Finland,” he says.

A brush with industrial engineering and healthcare consulting in the past left Kostamo with the feeling that the greatest population-level effects are not achieved one-on-one with patients, but on the system level.

“This, and a lifelong interest in technology come together with medicine in MedicubeX.”

Vili Kostamo

Vili Kostamo, Co-Founder and CEO, MedicubeX

Eye of the storm

Being that the company was launched in the midst of the historical Covid-19 pandemic, MedicubeX has certainly entered interesting waters. According to Kostamo, the current situation has forced advancements in global preventive care thinking, telemedicine and healthcare automation as a side effect.

“We at MedicubeX want to offer the best possible tools for health care services and individuals for increased autonomy, quality of care and cost effectiveness. Pandemic or not, remote work, remote appointments and automation are the future.”

Kostamo is convinced that the European self-service kiosk market is only taking its first steps in healthcare. “There is a lot to be done. We aim to be the leading manufacturer of eHealth stations in Europe by 2025.”

No-nonsense agenda

A participant of Health Incubator Helsinki, the MedicubeX crew has high expectations for the program.

“Already so far, the Incubator has connected the participating companies to many relevant partners. The Incubator is partly still developing, so nothing is done just because it is routine to do so.”

In Kostamo’s opinion, the Incubator activities take into account the real-time, real-world requirements of companies very well indeed.

“Workshops and lectures are built based on member startup interviews and questionnaires, which means that they are always relevant.”

Get connected!

Analyzing Finland’s strengths as a “startup nation,” Kostamo says that the country offers a vibrant and transparent startup ecosystem with incubators, business angels and strong innovation support by the government (Business Finland). For instance, FiBAN (Finnish Business Angel Network) is one of the largest and most active business angel networks in Europe.

“If you need to make contact with established industry and public players, the barriers are low here.”

MedicubeX's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: MedicubeX Ltd

Product: MedicubeX is developing an autonomous eHealth station for measuring vital signs and calculating a personal cardiovascular disease risk index in 5 minutes.

Founded: 2020 after 3 years of market and concept evaluation.

Team size: 5

Target customer/market: Healthcare providers, both public and private. Fast-growing community self-testing market, such as workplaces, pharmacies, shopping malls and other public places.

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: MedicubeX

Driven by data: Medified introduces a new solution for mental health treatment

Driven by data: Medified introduces a new solution for mental health treatment

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A person is sitting and looking out the window.

The field of mental health is plagued by ineffective and non-personalized treatments. Presently, clinicians can’t effectively monitor patient recovery process and aren’t therefore able to base the personal treatment decisions on dynamic treatment data, says Co-Founder Valtteri Korkiakoski from startup Medified.  

“Clinicians have limited resources and tools to deal with a patient’s mental health issues. In most places current data gathering methods are outdated, inefficient, and prone to human errors leading to patients not receiving personalized care,” Valtteri Korkiakoski says.

Furthermore, continuity and intensity of the care are too often low and fragmented. According to Korkiakoski, the increasing number of mental health patients is unfortunately a global trend and requires new innovations and initiatives.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 is probably going to escalate the mental health issues globally – our task at Medified is to tackle that problem on a grassroots level.”

The company has launched a data-driven mental health treatment solution which features dynamic monitoring software. Because of the team’s background (both medical field and tech), the software provides validated clinical insights and proven support for professionals, so it is intuitive to use in an everyday clinical context. The software is documented according to MDR requirements and it has CE certification unlike most of the “health” apps available, explains Korkiakoski.

“Additionally, Medified focuses on creating value for both professionals and patients instead of only focusing on the patient app. With the help of our solution, professionals can make better treatment decisions and therefore help patients.”

Photo of Medified's concept

Push the industry

According to Korkiakoski, the core interest of the startup is treating patients and developing the health industry. “Being an entrepreneur allows us to help people, but it’s a bit more modern and scalable way than regular physician appointments.”

In the past, the Medified team members have come across various problems relating to treating mental health. Dealing with mental health is difficult – for both patients and professionals – due to the lack of effective tools. The Medified crew, however, believes it can make a real difference here.

Korkiakoski points out that the healthcare sector, with all its regulations, is not the easiest business area to navigate, but the company has been able to maintain “a clear path”.

“Company and team maturity have evolved massively over the course of the last 12 months,” he says, adding that the team is currently taking the first steps in a more business-minded direction.

“We have done pilots last spring to gain initial signals of proof-of-concept. In order to make an impact, we need to focus also on maintaining the sustainable business model that enables our growth,” he says, pointing out that current customer projects and great feedback from the users keep the “good drive” among the team.

“Personally, it has been extremely heartwarming to receive positive feedback that highlights the impact of the software on users’ everyday life.”

Getting to the next level

Medified is participating in Health Incubator Helsinki that started operations in the summer of 2020. Korkiakoski calls the start of the program “very promising”, acknowledging that the startup has need for both hands-on, operations-focused sparring and more strategic sparring.

“We hope that we are able to maintain the good direction and pace so Medified can grow out of the program in the upcoming years. First, we need hands-on help from the Health Incubator Helsinki experts.”

The Medified team is mostly formed by university students. Korkiakoski calls being a student and entrepreneur in Finland “an excellent experience” so far.

“Finland is a good place to take the first steps in an entrepreneurial career, but for Medified, the market and mindset must be global,” Korkiakoski says.

Medified's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Medified (Medified Solutions Oy)

Product: Data-driven mental health treatments with dynamic monitoring software

Founded: March 2019

Team size: 6

Target customer/market: Public and private healthcare providers and their mental health patients (Full Saas), Patient Organizations (Mobile SaaS)

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Graphics: Medified
Cover photo: Unsplash

Maculaser raised €1.2 million in funding to combat blindness

Maculaser combats blindness

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Researcher

Blindness – caused by major retinal diseases – is a significant health challenge around the world. According to estimates, the global direct healthcare burden caused by retinal diseases is currently over € 400 billion. Introducing temperature-control to non-damaging retina laser is a real game-changer, believes Helsinki-based medtech company Maculaser.

Maculaser is one of the companies determined to fight blindness. By targeting retinal diseases, this medical technology company aims to radically change how the common retinopathies and age-related macular degeneration are treated in the future.

Maculaser uses non-damaging laser treatments aimed to induce regenerative effects of temperature elevation without damaging retinal tissues. Maculaser achieves safe and effective non-damaging retinal laser treatment by monitoring retinal temperature during the heating, explains Jani Tirronen, CEO, Co-Founder, at Maculaser.

“The retina is stimulated with light pulses, and its temperature is determined from the temperature-dependent properties of the electroretinogram (ERG) responses,” he says, adding that the retinal temperature determination method enables optimal heating with high reliability.

Graphics of non-damaging laser treatments.

Temperature matters

Tirronen acknowledges that so far, non-damaging laser treatments have already proven to be effective in the field of medicine, but the lack of patient-specific temperature and safety controls significantly limit the efficacy and utilization of the treatments.

“Maculaser has solved the main problem which is the real-time temperature control of the retina during these treatments,” Tirronen says. The Maculaser technology enables ophthalmologists (eye doctors) to perform optimal non-damaging laser therapy without the risk of retinal damage, he adds.

“This is a potential game-changer in the treatment of currently untreatable diseases such as dry AMD.”

Aalto innovation edge

Founded this year by Tirronen and his fellow entrepreneurs Teemu Turunen and Ossi Kaikkonen, Maculaser has roots in an Aalto University research program which started in 2013.

“Business Finland backed a commercialization program started in 2018, and in 2020 the company was set up to bring the technology and novel treatment to the markets,” Tirronen goes over the timeline.

The original Aalto research program sought a treatment for dry AMD and arrived at the conclusion that non-damaging laser treatment offers the most promising solution for managing AMD. There is strong scientific evidence that heating retinal tissue/retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) brings about a range of beneficial effects on unhealthy RPE.

Get connected!

Looking into the future, Tirronen is optimistic about the startup’s chances of making a big breakthrough in the global market.

“Retinal diseases are the leading cause of blindness and, at present, the medical need is mostly unmet. We believe we can have a major impact on the field,” he says, adding that commercial success is likely to follow proven medical excellence.

Maculaser is one of the batch 1 companies in Health Incubator Helsinki, a long-term business development environment for research-based health startups, that started operations in Helsinki in 2020. Talking about the startup’s experiences about Health Incubator Helsinki, Tirronen describes that it is about connecting with likeminded entrepreneurs as well as getting new ideas and contacts from business coaches – especially in terms of funding.

“So far, it has been an inspiring environment to operate in.”

Rooted in research

According to Tirronen, Finland does a good job of creating broad university and research-based innovation platforms.

“Furthermore, there is a rapidly rising positive attitude towards research-based entrepreneurship in Finland.”

In his mind, the society is relatively uncomplicated and stress-free.

“Unless you’re running a startup, that is,” Tirronen grins.

Maculaser's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: Maculaser Oy

Product: Temperature-controlled non-damaging retina laser

Founded: 2020

Team size: 3

Target customer/market: 25,000 eye-clinics world-wide

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Photo and graphics: Maculaser

Epiheart raised €0.6 million in funding for novel cardiac therapies

EpiHeart fights off heart failure with new therapy

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Operating room

The medical community is well aware of cardiac muscle damage caused by lack of oxygen and certain other conditions – which often lead to heart failure and subsequent death. So far, there has been a large number of patients suffering from this – but only limited treatment options. Helsinki-based startup EpiHeart is tackling the challenge through an innovation by the name of Cardiac Micrograft Therapy™, treating the injury and ischemic scars beyond mere revascularization.

CEO, co-founder Kai Kronström explains that injury to the heart muscle takes place when its blood flow is obstructed due to ischemic heart disease or myocardial infraction.

“The dead cardiomyocytes are replaced with a rigid and noncontractile scar. This common medical issue causes severe morbidities and mortality – and the condition is called heart failure.”

The Cardiac Micrograft Therapy™, however, seeks to bring relief to the dire situation. The therapy provides additional value for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, says Kronström.

“During surgery, a small piece of cardiac tissue – from atrial appendage – is processed into micrografts and transplanted on the top of the injury. The transplant secretes biomolecules that reduce scar volume and promote heart tissue viability,” he explains, adding that this adjuvant therapy doesn’t increase the duration of CABG surgery.

Graphics of the coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery.

Building on tradition

This innovation didn’t materialize over night: University of Helsinki and HUS Helsinki University Hospital have been conducting various research into this field for years. One of the key scientists in the undertaking was Esko Kankuri who is now bringing his research expertise into the startup.

“Our third co-founder, Annu Nummi, is a cardiac surgeon,” explains Kronström, who himself is a “serial entrepreneur” of sorts: he’s been around to launch several startups during his 15 years stint in the healthcare industry. Kronström doesn’t have a degree in medicine, however, having studied business – but his forte is in finding the commercial potential of various health-related ventures.

“We founded EpiHeart around Christmas 2019, after seven years of academic research,” he says.

Promising results

The first patients, however, were treated already in 2017. The results from pre-clinical trials and a first-in-man clinical trial have demonstrated safety, feasibility and therapeutic efficacy, says Kronström.

“The therapy has potential to improve the patients’ quality of life and reduce mortality.”

EpiHeart enables the Cardiac Micrograft Therapy™ with medical devices and clinical validation. The therapy is based on patient’s own cells and minimal tissue processing. This approach reduces both the treatment costs and the regulatory burden dramatically, explains Kronström.

“The combination of the unmet need and our unique approach provides excellent foundation for EpiHeart’s rapid growth and profitability in global scale,” he believes.

Big upside

The company is now aiming to drive Cardiac Micrograft Therapy™ into clinical practice and enable the treatment of hundreds of thousands of cases around the world. Kronström feels that the company has “an excellent opportunity” here.

“Still, the outcome of future clinical studies cannot be known. We are presently completing the commercial product development and looking for funding for large scale clinical studies to be started early next year,” he says.

Talking about Finland’s strengths from the point of view of a health tech start-up, Kronström notes that creating a company in the medical field requires many competences and collaboration. There are relatively few success stories, but the possibilities to create more success stories are always there.

“Trust and collaborative mindset are major strengths in Finnish society and they should be embraced even further,” he believes.

“Ideally, there is deep collaboration between companies, hospitals, universities and other entities, such as regulators. Health Incubator Helsinki is one additional tool strengthening that collaboration.”

EpiHeart's logo

Startup Fast Facts:

Name: EpiHeart

Product: Devices enabling Cardiac Micrograft Therapy, a new form of therapy

Founded: December 2019 after 7 years of academic research

Team size: 5

Target customer/market: Cardiac surgery units globally

Text: Sami J. Anteroinen
Graphics: Sole Lätti
Cover photo: Unsplash