Health Tech of the Week: Mother and Child Startup Challenge – A Challenge for Innovators

Health Tech of the Week: Mother and Child Startup Challenge – A Challenge for Innovators

In today’s post from the „Health Tech of the Week” series, I present the third edition of the „Mother and Child Startup Challenge” competition, organized by the renowned Institute of Mother and Child. This unique initiative focuses on innovative solutions in healthcare for women and children, offering startups an unparalleled opportunity to spread their wings, test their projects, and gain valuable support.

 

Mother and Child Startup Challenge – A Challenge for Innovators

On May 14, 2024, the much-anticipated third edition of the „Mother and Child Startup Challenge” was launched. The competition is aimed at ambitious startups and companies that want to bring modern ideas to the medical market, having a real impact on improving the quality of life for patients. This initiative promotes creativity and supports the development of the best projects in the field of women’s and children’s health.

 

Why Participate?

For young entrepreneurs and medical innovators, this is a unique opportunity to showcase their unique products or processes that can revolutionize the healthcare sector. The third edition of the competition promises a fresh wave of enthusiasm and inspiration, with the chance to present ideas to industry experts. Participants have the opportunity to gain financial support, mentorship, and the potential to develop their business.

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Categories and Criteria

In the third edition of the „Mother and Child Startup Challenge,” startups and entities bringing innovative solutions to the broad field of healthcare for women and children will be rewarded. Innovations in the areas of diagnostics, prevention, and treatment of women’s diseases and the periods of pregnancy and postpartum, as well as all fields of pediatrics and improvements in hospital administrative and organizational processes, can be submitted.

 

Benefits for Participants

By participating in the competition, young companies have the chance to present their ideas and products to renowned experts in the fields of medicine and business. This is an excellent opportunity to establish valuable business contacts, gain new knowledge and skills needed to effectively run their startup.

 

The third edition of the Mother and Child Startup Challenge is aimed at all startups and innovators who want to bring changes to healthcare for women and children. It is an excellent opportunity to present their ideas and gain support.

 

Inspirations from the Past

In previous editions of the competition, many outstanding projects that significantly impacted the medical sector were highlighted. For example, the winner of the first edition, Infermedica, was recognized in the World’s Best Digital Health Companies 2024 ranking. Solutions like Infermedica’s Symptom Checker increase patient access to reliable medical information, which is crucial for informed health decisions.

The main prizes in the second edition of the Mother and Child Startup Challenge were awarded to Clebre, Calmsie, TruScreen, and Laserobaria2.0_S.

As promised by the Institute of Mother and Child, the organizer of the competition, this edition will be even more inspiring and full of surprises. What gems will be discovered and utilized for the benefit of patients this time? We will find out soon!

Detailed information about the competition rules and the application process can be found on the website: www.mcsc.pl.

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How to Apply?

Don’t wait – apply to the competition and shape the future of healthcare for mothers and children. The application form is available at www.motherandchildstartupchallenge.pl. Submissions for this edition are accepted until June 23, 2024.

I invite you to closely follow the „Health Tech of the Week” series, where we will uncover more fascinating stories from the world of medical technologies that are changing the face of healthcare. If you are running an innovative project in the field of new technologies and medicine or want to recommend an interesting solution, write to us at: [email protected].

Health Tech of the Week: Health Venture Lab – a way to accelerate growth for medical projects

Health Tech of the Week: Health Venture Lab – a way to accelerate growth for medical projects

Since November 2023, I have been introducing startups in the Health Tech of The Week series, which have the potential or are already revolutionizing the medical services market by using new technologies. Today, I want to present Health Venture Lab, an international network of healthcare innovation stakeholders, supported by GE Healthcare. Their activities aim to accelerate medical innovations and support their market entry. I invite you to read the interview with Olivia Blanchard, the Managing Director of the organization.

 

What were the beginnings of your organization?

Our activities started in 2018 with an ambitious vision: to create the first accelerator program, which we named Reactor, operating under the auspices of EIT Health, without equity participation. We began our activities in the form of an intensive training camp, which at that time met the needs of health-themed startups at an early or mid-stage of development. The beginning of our activities coincided with a period when the urgent need for transformation in the digital health sector became particularly visible. This was later further highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are even more committed to providing innovators with the necessary resources and mentoring support, which are crucial for success in the dynamically changing world of healthcare.

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Why did you decide to work for HVL?

I am from France, but my career path took me to Central and Eastern Europe, where I explored local innovation ecosystems and startup policy. Meeting the dynamic team at Health Venture Lab, I was immediately drawn to their mission of supporting innovation, especially in the healthcare sector. Moving from the theoretical concepts I had been working with to a real impact on reality made a huge impression on me. The opportunity to take on a leadership role, especially for a young specialist, was an extremely attractive challenge for me. Joining Health Venture Lab was not only an important step in my career but also an opportunity for personal development and a chance to contribute personally to an inspiring team.

 

What is the biggest achievement of HVL so far?

During our work, we have had many achievements that can be called milestones in our development. However, the essence of our success is building a wide network and creating influential partnerships. Collaborating with leading academic institutions, such as MIT or the István Széchenyi University of Gyor, shows that we have gained trust and recognition in the industry and academic environment. Such cooperation influences our subsequent activities and drives our mission, which is to develop innovation.

 

Tell us more about your mission

Health Venture Lab is a global hub of innovation, bridging the gap between startups and the healthcare sector. With foundations in Europe, we want to support local entrepreneurs in their ambitions to change and redefine current healthcare paradigms. Our initiatives, from the Young Talent Program to Catalyst Europe, are strategically designed to build a new generation of innovators interested in supporting healthcare. We now place particular emphasis on using AI in sustainable solutions.

 

How can Polish startups benefit from joining HVL?

Joining Health Venture Lab offers Polish startups access to a robust international network that includes education and financing pathways. Our achievements, including being recognized as one of the top ten European MedTech accelerators by Sifted in 2019, highlight the credibility and quality of our programs. Partnership with industry giants, such as GE Healthcare, further enhances the value of our offer, providing startups with exposure and unique development opportunities.

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At what stage of development should startups join HVL to benefit the most?

We position ourselves as a solution suited for startups at an early or mid-stage of development. Having a solid base and a product at the MVP stage related to Health Tech is the moment when our acceleration program can support such a startup. We facilitate product-market fit and scaling growth.

 

What do you think are the future directions of health technology and how will the medical services market change?

The future of health technology is an evolution towards more personalized care, using AI to improve diagnosis and administrative efficiency. We expect the medical services market to undergo a transformation towards more patient-oriented care, driven by data analysis and technology.

 

How do you see the use of AI in the medical industry?

The integration of AI in the medical industry heralds a new era of precision medicine and personalized healthcare. From aiding in diagnosis and treatment planning to streamlining administrative tasks, AI has the potential to enhance every aspect of healthcare delivery. However, realizing this potential requires addressing significant challenges such as data privacy, regulatory compliance, and ethical issues, to ensure responsible and fair implementation of AI technology.

 

What are the further development plans for HVL?

We plan to further develop our acceleration programs and increase the number of innovators from Central and Eastern Europe. We also aspire to expand our operational capabilities to introduce innovative programs that will accelerate transformations in the healthcare sector.

Health Tech of the Week: Talkie.ai – A Virtual Receptionist Instead of Queues on the Hotline and at the Clinic

Health Tech of the Week: Talkie.ai – A Virtual Receptionist Instead of Queues on the Hotline and at the Clinic

In today’s entry from the „Health Tech of the Week” series, we will focus on Talkie.ai, an innovative startup that is changing the face of customer service in the medical sector through advanced AI technology. The breakthrough brought by Talkie.ai pertains not only to the way of communicating with patients but also to the efficiency and accessibility of medical services.

 

Talkie.ai was founded with the inspiration to solve the inefficiency problem of classic call centers, which too often negatively impacted patients’ experiences. Medical facilities are known for the difficulty in getting through to them. This limits the accessibility of medical services for many people: the elderly, busy individuals, or those with small children. In the era of growing AI technology capabilities, the startup’s founders saw an opportunity to automate telephone service, thereby relieving medical staff from routine tasks, which will allow them to focus on care and support for patients. According to Talkie.ai’s premise, everyone benefits from the automation of customer service in the medical sector – payers, medical facilities, doctors, and ultimately all of us as patients.

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Virtual Receptionist

Talkie.ai’s solution is the so-called Virtual Receptionist – a bot based on artificial intelligence algorithms that can conduct conversations with multiple patients at once, handling matters such as scheduling appointments, ordering prescriptions, or managing examination dates. Thanks to the ability to understand natural language and medical terminology, the bot is capable of taking over most tasks that patients typically turn to health care facilities for. In more complicated cases, the bot involves a call center consultant or medical registration in the conversation. This eliminates the potential frustration of the patient, which would arise if he had to wait for a connection or could not get through at all.

What can particularly facilitate the work of medical facilities, compared to the solutions they have used so far, is support during outgoing conversations. The Virtual Receptionist can inform a group of patients about a change of appointment date, the absence of a doctor, or equipment failure. Similarly, the bot is capable of calling a selected patient base as part of a preventive or informational campaign, which will save time that the staff can spend on other activities.

 

Changes in Medicine After the Pandemic

During the COVID pandemic, it became more apparent than ever before that many patients do not need a „physical” visit to a facility, but only needed to: inquire about a visit, change the date, or place an order for a prescription. This experience showed that improving contact with the medical facility is an opportunity to genuinely relieve it. However, for this change to be real, all groups, including patients, must engage in it. Thanks to awareness campaigns encouraging patients to cancel appointments, there was an increase in responsibility for health care resources and shorter queues, which ultimately will result in a healthier society. As representatives of Talkie.ai say – within 12 months we see a significant change in the perception of confirming appointments as a responsibility of all participants in the health system – both medical facilities, which must ensure that their patients have a real possibility of contact to cancel an appointment in time, as well as patients, who have begun to perceive this issue as a personal responsibility. We are glad to be part of this change.

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Plans for the Future

Talkie.ai is continuously expanding its cooperation with Hospital Information System (HIS) providers and their integration with the startup’s solution. The next step is expansion into the American market, which is a key element of Talkie.ai’s strategy. Adaptation efforts, such as integration with EHR systems specific to the USA and support for multilingualism (in addition to English, Spanish language support is also necessary), are already underway. We believe that the solution offered by the startup not only streamlines the management of medical data but also contributes to faster access to health services.

We invite you to continue following the „Health Tech of the Week” series, where we will discover more fascinating stories from the circle of medical technologies that are changing the face of healthcare. If you are leading an innovative project in the field of new technologies and medicine or want to recommend an interesting solution, please contact us at: [email protected].

Health Tech of the Week: SDS Optic S.A. – A Breakthrough in Cancer Diagnostics

Health Tech of the Week: SDS Optic S.A. – A Breakthrough in Cancer Diagnostics

In today’s edition of the Health Tech of the Week series, I present SDS Optic S.A., a company that has undertaken the mission to change the face of cancer diagnostics by introducing innovative inPROBE technology, promising to revolutionize the detection and monitoring of tumors.

Modern medicine faces enormous challenges, among which the fight against cancer stands out. The statistics are alarming – nearly 10 million people die of this disease every year. Breast cancer has already surpassed lung cancer as the most frequently diagnosed cancer worldwide. Each year, about 1.7 million new cases are reported, and nearly half a million deaths occur. The founders of SDS Optic S.A. aimed to create a solution that not only addresses this problem but also solves the issues with the imperfections of existing diagnostic methods. The traditional approach, requiring invasive biopsy and a long wait for results, is not only painful for patients but also prone to human error, which can delay diagnosis and the implementation of appropriate treatment. The solution to these problems is inPROBE – a technology that allows for immediate and precise diagnosis of cancer biomarkers without the need for tissue extraction from the patient.

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30 %  by 2030

The vision that motivates and drives the entire team is to increase cancer survival rates by 30% by the year 2030. In 2017, the WHO published a list of recommended procedures and medical services that should be applied at an early stage of the disease to improve the chances of curing patients with cancer. The main conclusion was to emphasize the need for the global development of early cancer diagnostics, which saves lives and significantly reduces the costs associated with treatment.

To encourage decision-makers worldwide to take action in this direction, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were defined. One of these goals is to reduce by one-third the premature deaths caused by cancer by 2030. A similar goal was included in the mission of the European Commission in 2021, which deals with combating cancer diseases within the „Horizon Europe” program. SDS Optic S.A. identifies with this goal and therefore develops technologies for diagnosing cancer, infectious, and fungal diseases that support saving lives and health.

Painless and Effective Diagnostics

The inPROBE technology uses advanced photonics and molecular biology to identify and measure the concentration of cancer biomarkers in real-time and directly in the patient’s body. What sets inPROBE apart from traditional methods is its lower invasiveness, speed of obtaining results, and the ability to monitor the disease area precisely, not limiting itself to the analysis of an isolated tissue sample. Currently, biopsy and histopathological examination are the standards in cancer diagnostics. Biopsies are often painful, and waiting for results can be long, posing a serious problem. The speed of implementing appropriate treatment is crucial for recovery and survival rates. It should be added that currently functioning diagnostic methods only examine a sampled tumor section, not the entire disease focus (tumor and its surroundings). Moreover, measurements of this tissue sample after several days or weeks do not achieve the same parameters in the laboratory as measurements of living tissue directly in the human body.

The technology is being developed as a technological platform that can be used to monitor the effectiveness of therapy in real-time and under natural conditions (in vivo). Fiber optics quickly transmit collected data, and SDS Optic S.A.’s proprietary algorithm analyzes it and converts it into objective and accurate medical results in real-time. This means that in the future, there may be no need to wait several weeks for final results. Such a change will not only save time but also reduce stress for patients waiting for a test result.

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The Gold Standard of the Future

As representatives of SDS Optic S.A. say, every groundbreaking discovery in medical history that eventually became known as the „Gold standard” had to undergo a natural process that lasted many years, supported by a wide range of stakeholders (including doctors, global companies, scientific organizations, and foundations). This was the case with magnetic resonance imaging, the first tomograph, or ultrasound examinations. Today, no one wonders which company developed or commercialized the resonance or tomograph. Only the diagnostic method, which is reliable and permanently assigned to certain disease entities, is mentioned. Scientists are currently working to ensure that the inPROBE technology enters global diagnostic practice, not only in oncology but also in infectious and fungal diseases as a new diagnostic method, and that in a few years, it can be widely used, including in molecular cancer diagnostics. The company has been listed on the NewConnect stock exchange since March 2022.

I invite you to continue following the „Health Tech of the Week” series, where we will discover more fascinating stories from the world of medical technologies that are changing the face of healthcare. If you are running an innovative project in the field of new technologies and medicine or want to recommend an interesting solution, contact us at: [email protected].

Health Tech of the Week: Feyenally – Revolution in Ophthalmic Care

Health Tech of the Week: Feyenally – Revolution in Ophthalmic Care

In today’s installment of the Health Tech of The Week series, we present Feyenally, which is on a mission to deliver innovative solutions in ophthalmic care, improving the quality of life for patients and facilitating the work of professionals.

 

The main inspiration for creating the Feyenally startup and its application enabling self-check of vision defects – eyeTEST, was the challenge associated with the lack of ophthalmic care worldwide, especially in regions with limited access to specialists. The deficit of optometrists, i.e., individuals capable of selecting the right glasses, is huge globally. The founders of Feyenally openly say that this gap cannot be filled without the help of technology. Their project is a tool that will allow patients to examine their vision at home, eliminating the time and distance barrier between them and a specialist.

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Objective Vision Examination

The eyeTEST application allows patients to examine their eyes at home using only their smartphone. The examination is carried out without using the patient’s subjective assessment, which usually forms the basis of the vision defect diagnosis. During a basic examination, patients are often asked to provide feedback to the doctor, which can lead to errors due to subjective assessment. This can also be influenced by the time of day and environment – whether our eyes are rested or tired, whether the air is dry, etc. Utilizing objective research methods offered by eyeTEST is a step forward in improving the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment. As a result, users receive accurate and repeatable examination results, which are crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment. The eyeTEST app does not replace an ophthalmic visit but can replace a simple visit to an optometrist. Thanks to it, patients can regularly monitor their vision health and quickly respond to changes.

 

Support Around the World

Having accurate and quick diagnostic tools, such as eyeTEST, is extremely important for the global population with limited access to ophthalmic care. It offers a chance for early detection of vision problems and quick referral of patients for treatment, which can reduce complications and improve the quality of life. For people in some developing countries, this may be the only chance to check their vision.

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Development Plans

As Mateusz Toporowicz and Piotr Kruszyński, founders of Feyenally, say, the best time to introduce such technology was yesterday, and the second-best time is today. The current moment is perfect for developing and introducing innovative solutions in ophthalmic care due to the dynamic development of technology, increasing demand for remote healthcare, and growing social awareness about the importance of prevention and health monitoring.

The company focuses on continuous improvement of algorithms and integration of new technologies to provide users with even better results and experience. Moreover, data is constantly being collected from a broader group of patients. In the coming months, Feyenally will focus on further refining the eyeTEST app and conducting pilot implementations. Work is also underway on certifying this solution as a medical device.

We invite you to continue following the „Health Tech of the Week” series, where we will discover more fascinating stories from the realm of medical technology that are changing the face of healthcare. If you are leading an innovative project in the field of new technologies and medicine or want to recommend an interesting solution, please contact us at: [email protected].

Health Tech of the Week: Calmsie – New Technologies for the Mental Health of the Youngest

Health Tech of the Week: Calmsie – New Technologies for the Mental Health of the Youngest

In today’s world, where the mental health of children is becoming an increasingly bigger challenge, Calmsie steps up to address these issues by offering innovative solutions in the field of therapy for child psychiatric disorders. I invite you to get to know the conversation with Calmsie’s CEO and founder, Marcin Waryszak, who shared more about the behind-the-scenes of the project.

 

Where did the idea for creating Calmsie come from?

MW: The idea for creating Calmsie was born in response to visible gaps in the child healthcare system. There is still much to be done in the area of child psychiatry, and the gaps in the system require an innovative approach, not just increased budgets. The beginnings were tied to hours-long conversations with experts, market research, and gathering feedback from parents, children, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists. This allowed us to shape a vision and define a strategy for action. Thanks to this work, we were able to create a tool that brings a fresh perspective to child psychiatry and can truly change the way we help children with emotional problems.

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Why is caring for children’s mental health issues so important now?

MW: In the United States alone, there are 15 suicide attempts by children under the age of 12 every day. This dramatic reality requires immediate intervention. Our mission within the Calmsie project is not limited to creating innovative therapeutic solutions. We also engage in activities to increase public awareness about mental health. We continuously strive to change the situation in the area of child healthcare. Our actions also include advisory work in public institutions, such as the Round Table at the Ministry of Health. Calmsie’s co-founder, Dr. Brian E. Wallace, was an expert on child mental health and a speaker during the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations. Our efforts have strengthened the message about the need to change the approach to healthcare for the youngest.

What is „Mission Amygdala” and how does it support children in learning about emotions and effective stress management strategies?

MW: Calmsie introduced Mission Amygdala – a digital platform supporting children in the fight against depression and anxiety disorders. The app transports young patients into the world of mobile games, where they take on the role of heroes saving the galaxy. Children are faced with missions that help them overcome various emotional challenges. They then interactively communicate with General Empathy – a videobot, to learn how to apply knowledge in everyday life.

How do gaming experiences increase children’s engagement in the Calmsie educational program?

MW: They are crucial for the success of the Calmsie program. Gaming experiences make therapy more engaging and accessible for children. Our games mimic typical interactions, finger movement patterns, and the intuitiveness of controls known from popular games, allowing users to easily get involved in the therapeutic process. Working with world experts in the field of gaming, we have created games that are not only attractive but also effectively convey therapeutic content.

How do you utilize artificial intelligence for this?

MW: The basis of our games is the know-how in the field of artificial intelligence, based on years of R&D research. Additionally, we use proprietary medical content, which is based on decades of clinical practice under the supervision of professors of psychiatry. The use of artificial intelligence allows for real-time interaction between the child and avatar videobots, increasing effectiveness and personalizing therapy support.

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Can virtual solutions fully replace contact with a therapist?

MW: Virtual solutions can be a valuable supplement to traditional therapy, but contact with a specialist remains key for deeper understanding and empathy towards the patient. Face-to-face interaction allows the therapist to better read non-verbal signals and tailor therapy to the individual needs of the patient. The ideal solution may be the integration of both approaches, utilizing the strengths of both forms for optimal results.

What other innovations in the field of child mental health are you currently working on?

MW: One of our main areas of research and development is working on revolutionary digital biomarker technology. These innovative tools can significantly streamline the diagnostic process, monitor therapy progress, and adjust treatment to individual patient needs. By applying advanced technologies, such as data analysis, artificial intelligence, and haptic technology, we aim to create tools that are not only effective but also easy to use and accessible to a wide range of users. We are working on this among others with entities associated with Cornell and Stanford Universities.

Calmsie was awarded as the global product of the year at the Med Tech World congress in Malta and was identified by Oracle as one of the best pediatric startups in the early stage of development worldwide, confirming the effectiveness and innovation of our approach. The company sees the future of medicine in Poland and around the world as increasingly integrated with modern technologies. Implementing innovations, such as telemedicine or artificial intelligence, can bring numerous benefits, including improving the accessibility of healthcare and increasing the efficiency of diagnosis and treatment. Currently, Calmsie focuses on intensive development and expansion into new markets. This includes conducting pilot projects in Poland and the United States and analyzing opportunities for expansion in Asia, Australia, and the Scandinavian countries.

I invite you to continue following „Health Tech of The Week,” where we will explore innovations and solutions that are constantly transforming the world of medicine and healthcare, creating new treatment possibilities and improving the quality of life for patients worldwide.

If you are leading an innovative project in the field of new technologies and medicine or want to recommend an interesting solution, contact us at: [email protected]

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