University Hospital Districts is Building a Nationwide Ecosystem for Health Startups

23 September 2017

It’s a known fact that Nordics lead when it comes to the quality of providing public health care. However, with a help of new health & tech innovations, Finland aims to bring public tertiary health care services to the whole new level. For the past year and a half, the conglomerate of five university hospitals districts is working together within Innovation Hub project.

The goal of the project is to develop client-oriented digital healthcare services and making it as easy as possible to use them, for both – healthcare professionals and patients. One of the outcomes of which is Terveyskylä.fi (‘Virtual Village’) web-service offering information, self-care, symptom navigators, digital treatment pathways, and tools for citizens, patients, and professionals. All five university hospitals in Finland are also engaged in Innovation Hub, supporting innovation workshops and piloting of new digital solutions.

Virtual hospital (1)

“For example”, says Miikka Korja, Chief Innovation Officer at Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, “the Innovation Hub will collect best innovation ideas from all 5 university hospitals and list them openly every month on the website”.

As a part of Virtual Hospital 2.0, four university hospitals took part in Vertical selection process for the fall batch in order to scout for potential partnerships opportunities with startups, evaluating 24 startups from 16 countries, which have been selected out of hundreds of applicants from all around the world.Bringing university hospitals and startups together for such an event, provides not only faster access to piloting and collaborations for startups. It also creates a safe place for a clearer understanding of the university hospital’s needs and areas of interest, and significantly speeds up product development. On another hand, professionals working in university hospitals are able to keep a pulse on what is happening in the digital health domain, and become real ambassadors of digitalisation, with unique first-row experience.

“For me, it was a nice and inspiring experience. It is really good to a researcher/head nurse to see what is going on in the digitalisation of health from the business and innovation perspective. I had many good discussions and felt that in some cases  I was able to give advice and in others, I was the one that learned more” says Sanna Salanterä. Professor of Clinical Nursing Science, Vice Head of the Department of Nursing Science at the University of Turku.

For Vertical health accelerator,  it was also a valuable experience.

“Such broad medical and healthcare expertise is a great asset to have whilst evaluating our companies that apply to our program”, states Sebastien Gianelli, Head of Portfolio and co-founder of  Vertical health accelerator. “It also offers meaningful feedback to all the founders pitching”, Gianelli concludes.

Vertical runs an acceleration program for health & wellbeing startups twice a year, at spring and fall, and receives hundreds of applications from more than 50 countries each time. Choosing the best startups to work and Vertical makes sure to involve the top professionals from both health & business to identify market needs, wants and capacity of startups to really make an impact in the health domain at a given period of time. These startups would have not only the higher chances to succeed, but also will be solving the most pressing issues of the modern healthcare. All in all, bringing university hospitals together with startups, accelerators, corporations, investors facilitates building reacher health startup ecosystem.

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