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TechScale Berlin: The healthtech sector is hot!

EXB resident techxpert Jewell Sparks takes stock of the Berlin startups paving the way in healthtech, a sector that's thriving globally but especially here in the German capital.

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Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash. EXB techxpert Jewell Sparks on Berlin’s healthtech startups. Don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter Exberliner Tech, your essential tech and startup briefing!

This week I thought I would focus on the innovations of health startups since the world is in a state of health consciousness as a result of the coronavirus which has now exceeded 17,000 cases spanning across 27 different countries. Here is a great real-time view of global coronavirus cases developed by John Hopkins CSSE to keep you in the loop. Digital health has matured and several organisations have invested in their own external innovation programmes as well as invested quite heavily in the space. Although several sources have cited that mergers and acquisitions continue to be the most popular exit strategy for digital health companies across the globe, 2019 had its share of success stories of digital health IPOs. The IPOs of a few companies made global news and included Change Healthcare, Health Catalyst, Livongo, Progyny amongst others. 

The process of advancing digitalisation in the healthcare system is a topic of discussion and interest as more organisations increase their efforts to become patient-centric, inclusive of global communities and make impact. Due to the success of these companies, I wanted to point out a few health startups that I consider prime candidates for M&A, IPO and/or POC candidates for leading biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and/or medical organisations, but first I want to provide a bit of background information regarding the investment landscape and Berlin. According to Silicon Valley Bank and their Healthcare Investments and Exits Report, European investment in the healthcare sector has increased the last three years over the sectors of biopharma, healthtech, dx/tools, and devices and shows no signs of slowing down in 2020. Overall, there was an increase in investment deals (392) but a decrease in investment dollars across the US and Europe. The increase in healthtech venture-backed investments was primarily driven by alternative care and provider operations in 2019 according to the report. Venture Capital Journal reports $14.7 billion being invested in future healthcare solutions during 2019. This sector is hot!

Germany is quite strong in health and medtech innovation due to its array of expertise from startups, corporates, hospitals and institutions. Berlin provides the right environment for both research and development of digital health solutions. There are over 30 pharmaceutical, 230 biotech, 300 medical technology and 130 hospitals in the Berlin-Brandenburg region alone. HealthCapital Berlin-Brandenburg is the principal healthcare sector cluster of the German capital region. Dr. Kai Uwe Bindseil is the HealthCapital cluster manager of Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie. Startups in the health sector can rely on the HealthCapital cluster to aid with identifying financial resources, access to investors and integration into the regional health sector network. 

With over 60 accelerators and incubator programmes in operation, Berlin hosts several programmes that focus on the healthcare sector. These include B Braun Accelerator, Bayer Grants4Apps, Pfizer’s Healthcare Hub Berlin, and a few others. Most of the accelerators in the healthcare sector are company supported which may limit the potential scaleability of companies in the sector due to industry competitiveness.  However, due to strict regulatory guidelines, aligning with an industry leader may be the fastest way to gain market visibility. 

The Start Alliance programme from Berlin Partner for Business and Technology helps founders accelerate market entry for their startups and learn about the international requirements to scale. With approximately 500 startups launching every year in Berlin, various Berlin Partner resources prove to be quite useful and help both native and non-native workers (34 percent) integrate and scale across the German capital. 

Berlin provides the perfect environment for digital health entities to thrive for both German nationals and global citizens. Here are a few startup companies that have caught my eye besides the obvious, health assessment app, Ada Health, which was founded in 2011 and according to Silicon Valley standards is on the right path for a successful IPO.

Qunomedial is a personalised healthcare management system that aids with medical advice spanning the areas of treatment, insurance, and medical facilities. Founded in 2015 this company has created a digital platform with the goal of creating the leading digital health platform helping patients around the world stay healthy. The company was founded by Sophie Chung and Gero Graf. This startup has the capability to partner with several organisations and could add value across the entire healthcare value chain. 

Inne is on a mission to make natural conception for women convenient and accurate. By utilising biochemistry and an app, they build hormone-based mini-labs for women. Inne was founded by Eirini Rapti. Enabling patients to manage their own personal data as it relates to their hormonal make up is very comforting for most women. 

Mimi Health is a mobile app for the iPhone, which uses its hearing technology based on proprietary algorithms to help those with hearing loss. Founded in 2014 by Henrik Matthies, Nick Clark, Pascal Werner, and Philipp Skribanowitz, their technology solution provides personalised solutions that can be integrated into consumer electronic devices. This company has touchpoints across several industries and is also acquisition ready if the price is right.

Mika created by the company Fosanis is an app for cancer patients that provides information on treatment options, nutritional advice and mental well-being. Founded in 2017 by doctors Gandolf Finke and Jan Simon Raue, Fosanis has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund which is overseen by the managers of the HealthCapital cluster for the Berlin-Brandenburg region. This startup has established a great relationship with Charity.

Kinder Heldin offers advice about pregnancy, childbirth and children. The startup provides access to midwives via chat and phone. Access to midwives is a unique proposition and this company is great for an organisation wanting to enhance their patients’ quality of life. 

OMEICOS Therapeutics is developing therapeutic solutions that have a significant impact on cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, in ophthalmology and other therapeutic areas. The therapeutic mode of action is based upon the discovery of natural metabolites of omega-3 fatty acids that mediate a strong anti-arrhythmic effect. Founded by Karen Uhlmann and Robert Fischer this company is acquisition ready. 

DiaMonTech utilises laser technology to assess and control blood glucose values of diabetes patients without having to draw their blood. Founded by Thorsten Lubinski in 2015, this non-invasive medical device is a great solution to add to the portfolio of several well known medical device companies.

Berlin has a lot of digital health startups. Those mentioned here are just a few that I have been following for a while. Are you making an impact in digital health, medical devices and/or biotech/pharma? If so, you know where to ping me. [email protected] or @jewellsparks on twitter.

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