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Healthtech March 29, 2022

Startup trends: Healthtech continues to boom with Krim Talia

The last two years have changed Healthtech radically. Serial entrepreneur and investor Krim Talia shares his thoughts on what’s happening in the industry today, and why.

Accelerated digitalization in healthcare

The pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of the healthcare industry to new heights. Everything changed and people started to prioritize their health more than ever before. Experts say that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital health and virtual care forward by at least three years.

According to the HIMSS Future of Healthcare Report, 80% of healthcare providers plan to increase investment in technology and digital solutions over the next five years. (Forbes) Areas like telemedicine, personalized medicine, genomics and wearables, AI integration, and mental health are all expected to rise. 

Over the last couple of years, the healthcare sector has faced major challenges, and true to form, entrepreneurs have been quick to find new solutions. Investors are also digging deep to fund their endeavors. In 2021 WHO released its first global report ever on AI in health.

The value of Healthech over the years

The 2021 global digital health market size was $268 billion and is expected to be $334 billion in 2022, rising up to $657 billion in 2025 (Statista). In 2021 alone, $44 billion was raised globally in health innovation – twice as much as in 2020 – and the acquisition of health and health tech companies rose 50%. (We Forum)

In 2020 alone, Healthtech companies raised a record $14 billion in funding – marking the first time in history that Healthtech investments have outweighed those in traditional healthcare sectors, like pharmaceuticals. In total, Swedish Healthtech startups raised a combined €396m during 2020 according to Dealroom – a record number. And according to Sifted, the combined value of European Healthtechs has grown over 6x from 2016 to 2021 – from $8bn to $41bn. 

The pandemic also accelerated shifts in consumer behaviors and expectations, with people today being much more open to digital care and telehealth. But what else is driving these trends, and what does the future of healthcare look like? We sat down with Sting Coach, serial entrepreneur, and investor Krim Talia to get his thoughts. 

The big picture: efficiency is key to unlocking real value

Krim believes the healthcare sector faces a shared challenge on a macro level. 

“There’s one overarching thing setting the stage for the whole healthcare industry: a super-fast increase in healthcare costs, while taxable incomes are generally flatlining. Because of this, the whole sector cannot expect to see huge inflows of new resources into the healthcare space,” explains Krim.

Today, Europe spends on average around 8% of its GDP on healthcare, the US spends roughly 18%, and here in Sweden, around 9% of GDP is spent on healthcare. 

“If you look at where we spend that money, you can cut the loaf in different ways. For example, we’re spending around 5% on Medtech products, around 15% on pharmaceutical products, and the bulk of the money is spent on healthcare services.  So, almost 80% of total spending in the healthcare sector is on healthcare itself. This means the approach that has the largest potential to address increasing healthcare costs is to develop innovative solutions that increase efficiency on the ground, for example, in hospitals, nursing homes, and primary care.”

The dismal figures for prevention

If you cut ‘the loaf’ in another direction, Krim explains, you’ll see we’re only spending 1-2% on preventative healthcare. 

“Spending on preventative methods is almost non-existent, which is pretty shocking. Our system is extremely reactive, and the bulk of the money – I’m talking like 90% – is spent on people that are already sick, most of which have chronic diseases. And this is a very interesting group of people. These patients have been living with their disease, or diseases, for a long time, and they’re highly motivated to find ways to improve their situation and explore new alternatives. This is a group of people you can really work with to make big changes. I think it’s our duty as a society to help prevent other people from ending up in a similar situation where we can,” says Krim.

The importance of the four Ps

When Krim invests in Healthtech companies, he’s looking for companies that are aligned with four things that he believes are the foundations for the future of healthcare:

  1. Predictive
  2. Preventive
  3. Personalized
  4. Participatory

“I think the move towards predictive health is the most important trend right now, for example, using AI and health data to improve diagnostic tests so people can predict and monitor their health status. 

Then we also see a large interest in prevention, simply because it makes sense. However, the financial models for prevention aren’t fully developed yet. That’s why you see things like health impact bonds emerging, which has been pioneered by RISE Social and Health Impact center and Sting alumni company Health Integrator.

When it comes to participatory, we’re looking for solutions that empower patients to participate in their own treatment and take more responsibility for their health – which is the right way to go. We know the amount of new resources we can put into the system is limited, so we need to involve and empower the patients with the right tool that can free the last hidden resource in the system – the patient themself. 

I’m seeing a lot of Healthtech startups emerging that are trying to do this. Take current Sting company Andningmed, for example, which provides a medical device that empowers respiratory patients to improve their inhalation technique and increase compliance with their treatment regimen.  Another very strong trend is a number of new companies aiming at the epic opportunity offered by catering to underserved needs within women’s health. New Sting startups like Momentus and Olivia offer personalized health services that empower women in their fourth trimester or women in menopause,” says Krim.

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There are also big trends emerging around personalized medicine. For example, we have seen a surge in the Healthtech diagnostics market. The pandemic did, however, reveal that there are huge challenges to be addressed when it comes to robust digital lab infrastructures and solutions that can support home testing with high integrity, trust, and quality.

“These challenges are being addressed by companies such as Findout Diagnostics and Infrion (a current Sting company). We also see companies like current sting company 2Heal that use these new diagnostic opportunities in order to analyze the root causes behind health problems and deliver highly personalized health services,” shares Krim.

But he also believes there’s still a lot of uncharted territory in this space – which presents a huge opportunity for Healthtech startups and entrepreneurs eyeing up the healthcare sector.

“Considering these four Ps is also a way for young startups to structure their thinking about how they contribute to SDG 3 – good health and well-being,” he adds.

Krim Talia

Krim coaches companies within healthtech and deeptech.

krim.talia@sting.co
070-973 26 65

Healthtech December 9, 2021

Meet Infrion: the startup digitizing medical testing

Managing medical test results is a cumbersome process for healthcare professionals. We spoke to Infrion founder Aslak Felin to hear how his startup streamlines this process and get his advice for other healthtech entrepreneurs.

Tell us about your background. 

After graduating from Chalmer’s School of Entrepreneurship I started a medtech company. I was then hired to work with entrepreneurship students, doctors, and startup companies. 

Nine years ago I was asked to join RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) and spent most of my time working in Preventive Health and lately with Measurement for Sustainable Transformation. Six months ago I founded INFRION with three others – so I have basically worked with health my whole career.

Infrion Co-Founder Aslak Felin.

Why are you drawn to the medtech space?

I can’t exist without doing something meaningful, and health and biosciences is incredibly important. I need to be in a meaningful job, or I won’t function. 

Where did the idea for Infrion come from? 

We came up with the idea when the first wave of the pandemic started as there’d inevitably be a lot of fake vaccine certificates and test results floating around. We got some funding from the EU and built it, during the second wave launched the service and during the third 11,000 patients had received a certificate. Six months ago we spinned the project into INFRION with a vision to be infrastructure for diagnostics.

So Infrion is a spin-off?

Yup. We ran a project in Carechain called Certify.Health that was funded by the EU. After the project, we transferred all we built into Infrion as a clean spin-off – so now Infrion is a product in its own right, not just a project. 

How would you summarize your company vision?

In one sense, we envisage ourselves to be Shopify for medical testing, because now anyone could start doing diagnostic tests and be profitable. Our customers have made SEK 150 million already, and we have around 100 clinic locations and three laboratories who have served 170,000 customers with our product. Now our aim is to have 10,000 customers and 1 million patients using our portal, and have thousands more labs working with us. 

Tell us more about why the healthcare sector needs Infrion. 

Half of all visits to the doctor end up in a lab test, and the way they’re handled today is very cumbersome. There’s a lot of paperwork, spreadsheets and lack of imagination. 

One of the clinics we work with said they can spend six hours a day trying to figure out whose result is whose and if something is wrong, they must call the lab which means there’s a lot of back and forth. They also have to manually move things from a spreadsheet to a patient’s journal. It’s a lot of work – but with our portal they can do it in two minutes. 

Put simply, we digitize diagnostics. We also make it possible for telehealth doctors to not only do video consultations but also send people to get tested at a pharmacy. So, if you have a symptom and you call the doctor and they’re not quite sure what the problem is, instead of saying go meet a doctor physically, they can say go do this test. This increases their volume exponentially. We’re the integration between patient journals and the labs, and we make sure all the data is verifiable, secure and trustworthy. 

Why is it so important that this information is verified?

Firstly, health data is one of the most valuable data sets out there. There’s a rising number of cyberattacks on hospitals because hackers want to sell this data. It’s crucial that patient records are verified and secure. Secondly, we need to know that the tests have been ordered by qualified doctors and that the tests were real and reliable. One doctor might not know where another doctor’s test results came from, or if they can trust it. Even if it’s legitimate, they might not even know how to put it into their system. That’s why so many patients have to take multiple tests if they get a different doctor, or they’re referred to a specialist. 

What are the most important things you’ve learned so far on your startup journey? 

I think the most important thing is verifying the demand early on and focusing on that not the idea. The other thing is getting the right team.  Everything else kind of takes care of itself. The team must have passion, they can be good at something, but it must align with the company’s purpose. I’d say in general I’ve learnt that you need a CEO, a CMO, and a CTO – these are the three experts needed at first. 

We’ve also learnt a lot about breaking into a very traditional market. Everything had to be very well thought out from a user-friendliness perspective to ensure people would adopt it. Relationships are super important too. There’s a lot of different stakeholders in this space, it’s not a clear-cut transaction between a customer and a seller. You also need to consider authorities to some degree. So yeah, it’s a complex sale and you have to put a lot into building the right relationships. 

Do you have any other advice for other startups in the healthtech space? 

Marinate in the problems and try to really understand them. What are the root causes? What are the feasible mechanisms to solve the problem? I’d also advise people to focus on desirability and feasibility. 

What’s next for Infrion?

Prepare our system to scale internationally. We’ve done a good job here in Sweden and have a good foothold, but we have to make it more scalable from a sales perspective and from an internal perspective. So that’s our next big thing! 

Has Sting helped you on your journey at all?

Definitely. The most important thing for us has always been the network Sting offers, especially when it comes to investors. We’ve gotten a lot out of it too. We’ve also been very lucky with our business coaches Johanna and Fredrik. 

Johanna has deep industry knowledge, and Fredrik is great as a general coach to talk about entrepreneurship with. A lot of the time I’m surrounded by techies, so it’s great to have someone to talk to about wider startup stuff. 

Would you like to learn more about Infrion?

Visit their website or reach out to Aslak: aslak@infrion.com

Healthtech December 9, 2021

Meet Andning Med: the startup helping millions of people breathe easier

Between 70-90% of people using an inhaler don’t get the right amount of medicine. We spoke to co-founders Petra Szeszula and Essam Sharaf to learn how Andning Med’s device helps respiratory patients inhale their medication correctly and get their advice for other entrepreneurs.

The team behind new Sting company AndningMed, the healthtech startup helping millions of respiratory patients successfully manage their disease.

Tell us about the team behind Andningmed. 

Petra: The three initial co-founders all individually applied to a program called Clinical Innovation Fellowship. We all really wanted to make a difference for patients and Clinical Innovation was a perfect opportunity. The objective was to create innovations in healthcare through the design process, and the program is very special in the way they form new teams. They deliberately put people with very different areas of expertise together. 

Essam: That’s right! I’m a medical doctor, Petra came as a business developer, then we have a product/service designer, and an engineer. But most of us have a double education. I also have a master’s in bioentrepreneurship. Petra is both a business economist and a scientist in molecular biology. And Christian – our CTO – is a mechatronic engineer and has a master’s in industrial management. 

Why did you decide to be entrepreneurs?

Petra: I think I speak for the whole team when I say I just wanted to make a real impact. I was a scientist at Karolinska, and even if you come up with a new drug for cancer patients, it’s probably not going to save patients in your lifetime. So I decided that I wanted to help people during my lifetime, and that actually doing business is the most effective way. That’s the quickest way to develop new products and improve people’s lives. 

Essam: As I mentioned, I worked as a medical doctor before, but I wanted to switch to innovation because as a doctor you can only have a limited impact. To be a medical doctor is brilliant, and very rewarding, but there are only so many patients I can see in my life. But one single innovation can have a positive impact on a lot more patients. 

What’s the problem you’re trying to solve with Andning Med?

Petra: During the Clinical Innovation program, we followed different doctors, nurses and patients to see and understand the problems they had. We met a nurse whose entire job was to re-educate patients with asthma and pulmonary diseases on how to use inhalers, all day, every day. Even though some of these patients had been using their inhalers for years and years, she still needed to teach them how to do it. It seemed like a massively inefficient use of resources, so we wanted to change that. 

Essam: We asked a lot of questions and searched scientific literature, and it turned out that 70-90% of respiratory patients were making critical mistakes when using their inhalers – like not breathing out fully before inhaling the medicine or inhaling at the wrong angle. When they make these mistakes they don’t get the right amount of medicine into their lungs, which means their disease doesn’t get better and they have more complications. For us, it was a device design failure, and since we have a great industrial designer on the team, we decided to change that. 

How do you solve this problem?

Petra: Because we are strong in designing physical products according to the user’s needs, we decided to build a device that really connects people to their inhalers in a new, engaging way. Our device has several sensors that measure and guide the patient through all the right steps every time they use their inhaler. With it, they get the optimal dose of medication, which enhances their overall well-being and comfort. They can track their performance in a mobile app and share data with their doctor. But the real beauty of our product is that they don’t necessarily need to open their phone to know how they inhaled. They see the feedback directly on the device, which makes it more comfortable to use in every situation. The data is stored automatically. I’m a chronic patient myself and sometimes your days can be so bad. Chronic disease can really affect your daily life, and everything that makes it easier is welcome. That’s why we hope that our device will help millions of patients breathe easier. 

What are the most important things you’ve learned so far from a startup perspective?

Petra: For me, research is something that I completely understand, but when I look at all the extra hoops we have to jump through to build a medical device it can be quite frustrating. I know we’re dealing with patients and vulnerable people so we need proper measures to make sure we’re meeting standards, but it takes a lot of time and money. But with sheer willpower, determination, and hard work, you can do it. You just close your eyes and keep grinding until you’re on the other side.

Essam: I agree with that, not only how hard it is from the medical perspective, but in general, how much resources it takes to build something. Especially if you have big ambitions, which you must have, because otherwise no one will fund you. And even if there’s a voice somewhere in my mind shouting this is too much – you just have to go through it. I’ve also learnt you have to be able to operate on very low resources, especially money-wise. How much can you do when you’re hungry? Can you go that extra mile or not? But on the other hand, I’ve learnt that when you walk through fire, you see what’s really important. 

Petra: We’ve also learnt how lucky we are to be in Sweden! There’s so much support with governmental grants, incubators, coaches and mentor programs, especially in healthcare – which is why we’ve got this far.  The supportive environment, which Sweden and Stockholm created, made it possible, and we’re learning so much. I spent five years learning economics management at the university, but nothing prepared me for being an entrepreneur. 

Have you learnt anything specifically at Sting?

Essam: Literally this week we were hiring an intern, and Petra said ‘Oh, I know Olivia works with interns, we should ask them about contracts.’ I texted one of the founders and she immediately sent me an NDA document which saved us hours. So in short, it’s amazing to work alongside so many other awesome startups that help each other out!

Petra: For me it’s the business knowledge and networks we get through the support by our coaches. They connected us with investors, pharmaceutical companies and other experts and entrepreneurs, and they taught us how to get the most out of those connections. The legal support and advice has also been really good too. 

What’s your advice for other healthtech entrepreneurs

Petra: Get a diverse team and get the designer in the team, not just engineers! I think that’s my general advice to any startup. Get someone who understands how to speak to your users, create user journeys and create products for people. I’ve bragged about having Annelie, our designer, on the team so much. The skills she brings as an industrial designer are priceless. 

Essam: Definitely! I think people neglect the benefits of design, designers don’t just make things beautiful – they make things user-friendly and simple. That’s why in the end I believe our products will be loved by millions of people. 

Would you like to learn more about Andning Med?

Visit their website or reach out to Petra on petra@andningmed.com. 

Healthtech December 6, 2021

Meet Din Psykolog: the psychology service that’s always open

Using a smart-matching algorithm, Din Psykolog allows people to get in contact with a psychologist online, anytime. We spoke to founder Ramzi Jelassi to hear more about this unique healthtech startup.

From left to right: Maria Ljungberg (Propel Capital), Ramzi Jelassi (Din Psykolog), Felicia Westin (Din Psykolog) and a private investor at Sting Day 2021.

Tell us about your background. 

I’ve been interested in psychology since I was very young. I think it’s about being interested in your own thought process, which most people are. My first career was actually as a professional poker player. I travelled around the world playing the biggest tournaments, and used psychology to my advantage, and also worked on my own psychology. After that, I did a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and business and began working for a startup because I always wanted to start something myself. Once that business was mature, I decided to pursue my idea for Din Psykolog and found some other people to launch the platform with. 

My co-founders and I all met in different ways: online, through friends, on Linkedin – and I also met my CTO through a startup event. And Felicia, who just started, is a psychologist and she’s worked at a company similar to ours before. We all fit really well together and have a great connection. I think we all really like working together. 

Where did the idea for Din Psykolog come from?

Talking to a psychologist has had good results for me personally. For me, it’s a no-brainer that everyone should talk to a psychologist at some point. I saw people getting more and more comfortable talking to doctors online, and it felt like a natural step for people to start talking to psychologists online as well. So I decided to create a fully digital psychology service where people can contact to a psychologist anytime, from anywhere. 

How does Din Psykolog work?

The patient logs into the platform using their BankID and answers a few simple questions. Based on that, we use a smart-matching algorithm to recommend psychologists that suits each individual’s needs. You can read about them and their background, and based on that, decide who you’d like to chat to. The entire interaction is text-based, so you can start writing to them immediately. You’ll always get an answer within 24hrs and can continue to write a little every day, or whenever you feel like it. 

It’s similar for the psychologist. They login to their work profile and can see all of their patients collected in one place. They login every day and chat with patients, and have access to different tools to help them. The platform is really smooth and automates a lot of time-consuming, manual processes. This gives psychologists more time to speak to patients and raise the quality of care. The healthcare system is also pretty slow, especially when it comes to mental health. With Din Psykolog psychologists get to help more people, faster. It also gives them much more flexibility.

What other problems does it solve?

Most importantly, Din Psykolog lowers the threshold for people to actually start seeing a psychologist and makes it much easier. This is really crucial. I think most people walk around thinking ‘yeah, maybe I should go to a psychologist, but many don’t follow through. It’s still stigmatized or people don’t dare do it.  But if you make it digital and easy, then you lower the barrier to entry and actually try it. The fact it’s text-based also makes it less intimidating. And our psychologists are great. They have so much experience. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned so far on your startup journey?

There’s a lot of people out there who prefer writing compared to other forms of communication. A patient emailed me once asking if we would save their data after speaking to a psychologist, and I assumed they didn’t want us to. But it was the other way around. It turns out a lot of our patients want us to keep their text so they can log back in afterwards and read what they said and what the psychologist said so they can use it as a journal. 

The act of writing can also be therapeutic in itself, even before the psychologist comes in. 

What sort of unexpected challenges have come your way? 

We’re in a highly regulated market, so there are some things we just have to do, like patient confidentiality and data security which is super important. There are specific regulations we need to follow and specific insurances we need to have. But as long as you have those hygiene factors in place you can start focusing on the service itself and adding value. 

You have to have one eye on your vision – which is what you want to achieve, but at the same time, you have to work here in reality and look at what’s in front of you. You have to listen to your customers and build what they want, and that’s not always what you’ve planned for. Sometimes people don’t know what they want until you build it, and sometimes, you build stuff they don’t want. It’s a double-edged sword really. You just have to try to strike a balance between your vision, what’s required, and what actually your customers are saying.

Do you have any other advice for other startups in the health tech space? 

Apply to Sting! (laughs). But to be perfectly honest, we’ve been part of a few other startup programs before. They were good, but this is on a totally different level. Here there’s an expert for every single thing we need help with. It’s not like somebody that knows a bit of this and a bit of that. They’re actual experts. 

When we were looking for funding, we asked Fredrik if he could help us find investors and he said ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ I’ve heard that maybe 30 times in the past, and nothing usually happens. But he came back a few days later with an investor to talk to (that later invested). I thought ‘oh my god! This is totally different.’ Investors also put more effort in because they know the quality of Sting’s startups is high, so they’re willing to spend the time with you. 

What’s next for Din Psykolog?

We just closed a round! We’ll use this money to improve the service so we can offer our users as much value as possible. We will also offer our service for a much lower price from now on, which is in line with us wanting as many people as possible to to be able to get help and make taking to a psychologist more accessible”

Would you like to learn more about Din Psykolog?

Visit their website or reach out to Ramzi at ramzi@dinpsykolog.nu

Healthtech December 3, 2021

Meet Olivia: the startup women over 40 have been waiting for

A massive 84% of women say menopause have a negative impact on their life – but 80% of doctors say they don’t have enough knowledge in this area to detect symptoms early on. We spoke to Olivia co-founder Hannah Lindström to discuss how their app bridges this gap and get her advice for other entrepreneurs in femtech.

Olivia co-founders Hannah Lindström (left) and Amy Aanen (right). Photo by our friend Theo Zätterström.

Tell us about the team behind Olivia.

Everyone has really different backgrounds. I used to live in New York doing marketing and PR and when I moved back to Sweden I started thinking about doing something closer to my heart and my passion: female biohacking. After a while, I started thinking about how I could move beyond the holistic side of things and make a bigger impact. I felt there are so many period trackers and apps for fertility, but nothing to help people actually feel better and understand their hormones so they can take better care of themselves.  

Then I met Amy, who was then part of Antler, by chance. She had started Olivia a few months prior, and she needed a new co-founder. At the same time I was thinking about doing something similar for women in their fertile years, but the more I learnt the more I realized menopausal women is such an underserved market and a lot of the knowledge I had was extremely relevant.

Amy started out working in e-commerce, and she’s been everywhere! She’s from the Netherlands, but she’s lived in Berlin, Malaysia, South Africa, and then moved to Sweden to work with Kry with international expansion. She is very much an excel sheet wizard. 

Then we have Omima, our CTO, a total rockstar. I mean, super, super talented. And she keeps me and Amy in place. I usually go into a mad creative spiral like ‘this is so amazing, we have to do this!’, and Omima is like ‘No way. Where’s the data? Where’s the strategy?’. So we really complement each other. Then we also have talents in content creation, UX and UI design as well as on the medical side. 

What’s it like starting a company with someone you don’t know?

Well, it’s weird because it’s like getting married without even going on a date, but it’s been really good. Being on a startup journey is really not easy. I read somewhere that why most startups fail is because the founders don’t get along. Communication is key, both on who does what and how to go about it with the company, especially when the team grows and it’s not just the founders anymore, but also emotionally. You can’t assume the other person knows how you feel, so you might as well talk about it even if it feels silly. 

Why do women need Olivia?

As women, we’re all very aware when we get our first period, aware of the process of becoming pregnant, and even pregnancy. Everybody has a period tracker, or an app telling them how big their baby is right now. But when it comes to menopause, they get virtually no support. Most women have no idea what’s coming and they’re usually taken off guard.

So a big aspect of it is what we want to see happen in society – in terms of supporting mature women – and change the way we approach things. It should be as common for a woman who’s 45 to think ‘okay menopause is probably around the corner, I need to think about how I can take care of myself to make it easier’, just the same way we do if we want to get pregnant. We consider how we’re living our lives, and stop drinking and smoking our brains out. Menopause can be a very turbulent time and it’s important to take care of yourself. Many also experience mental symptoms that no one really talks about, and often feel like they have to hide their physical symptoms. 

So we created something offering research-based biohacking that’s simple and approachable and allows people to implement things in their life easily and understand why they’re doing it.

Why is this so important to you and your team?

Well, we’re not menopausal yet, but it’s going to happen! There’s also such a huge emotional aspect to it. We’re helping women feel supported and heard, which is what gets me up in the morning. I’m not just doing some bullshit, it’s something that really makes a difference in the world. But I guess everyone thinks they’re saving the world with their product! 

I think a lot about the equality aspect too. We need more women in boardrooms, but reaching that sort of level usually happens at the same time as menopause. How are we going to create an equal future if we don’t take that into consideration? Women need to feel like they have the energy to be in power. Michelle Obama has talked about being at the White House and getting hot flashes, she was just so uncomfortable. We need to make sure that women feel good and don’t step away from the workplace, and of course, live the best life they can.

So how does Olivia work?

Olivia is a digital therapeutics app that coaches women through menopause. The app offers a tracking function to keep track of symptoms as well as lifestyle habits that may be making the symptoms worse, and also learn about what’s going on in your body and mind when going through this phase of life. The app also provides the users with personalized programs on what you can do yourself to decrease symptoms, where we offer support in how to get better sleep quality, stress relief, how to rest in other ways than by just sleeping, having less hot flashes etc. The app is developed with top health experts and academic advisors, so it’s all based on the latest research-backed evidence. 

What unexpected challenges have you faced on your startup journey so far? 

I didn’t expect it to be this tough, or the amount of disappointment you feel on a personal level when things don’t go according to plan. I thought it would be easier (laughs) but there’s a reason people say building a company is really, really hard. 

And you have to kind of get used to feeling like you’re failing, and getting back up every time you’re knocked down. Now, when something happens we’re just like, alright, it’s not the right timing, and remind ourselves why we’re here. You want to do so many things it’s hard to know where to start, and if it’s actually the right thing. 

We spent a long time working on features of the app, and when we did user testing we just didn’t get the response we wanted. We realized it wasn’t the right format, and we had to rethink everything. That was hard because you just expect everyone to love it as much as you do, but then you have to go back to the drawing table and start again. It’s tough, especially in the beginning because you believe in what you do and you realize it was only you who did. 

But the positive side is you can grow a lot as a person. If you’re open to it and see every setback as a learning experience, you can have the best growth journey ever and it can be such a fantastic ride. It’s the best school that you could ever be part of, if you are open to it. But you really need to leave your ego at the door. 

So what’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Be open-minded. But most of all: don’t stop. Take feedback when feedback is necessary. But also remember you know your product better than everyone else, you know your market more, but of course, have the data to support what you’re doing. It’s hard not to get hurt by one person’s personal opinion, like if an investor thinks your product won’t fly. Well, fuck it, there are others who will. Never lose faith in yourself. If you don’t believe in it, it’ll never work. 

You need to be obsessed. Discipline triumphs passion every single day. You have to work really, really hard to have just a little bit of luck.

But know when to rest. The company won’t work unless you do. There will always be things that need to be done, you will never be finished. Make sure to press pause and take time off once in a while. Recharge your mind and your emotions, you will be better acquitted both as a founder and as a manager in the long run by prioritizing your own well-being. 

What’s been the best moment so far at Sting?

Something Krim Talia said in a coach meeting. We were talking about when to release the product and saying we’re not ready, we need to do more, it needs to be perfect. And Krim just told us to release it, and said if 200 people hate it, who cares? When you have 20 million users it won’t matter, and no one knows who you are yet anyway. I thought this was such a healthy way to look at it and a great wake up call. We wanted it to be superduper perfect, and he just told us to stop being afraid that someone won’t like it. At the moment, good is good enough. 

So what’s next for Olivia?

We’ve so far gained a lot of organic traction and gathered some amazing insights with the product that is currently live, and we’re now getting ready to release our 2.0 version in just a few weeks, which is super exciting! We are also shipping off a new brand identity which has been a tedious process. So a lot of fun and exciting things are happening for us right now and a lot of hard work is starting to pay off a little bit! We are very much looking forward to the year ahead and everything it will have in store, we are so ready for it! 

Would you like to learn more about Olivia?

Visit their website or reach out to Hannah: hannah@join-olivia.com

Healthtech November 10, 2021

Meet Dropmed: the healthtech startup transforming how caregivers and vendors do business

Dropmed is Sweden’s first online medical marketplace. We spoke to co-founder Sebastian Brieger to hear more about his growing healthtech startup and get his advice for other entrepreneurs shaking up the healthcare industry.

Dropmed’s “fabulous team portrait (AKA cheap selfie)”. A more glamourous photoshoot is currently on their list of to-dos.

Why does the healthcare industry need Dropmed?

Online marketplaces have become the norm in almost every other industry, but believe it or not, most medtech companies still don’t sell their products online. This means caregivers can’t find what they’re looking for without phoning and emailing medtech vendors to request quotes and comparing different companies manually. It’s a very traditional way of doing business which takes a lot of time – time that doctors and other healthcare professionals would much rather spend with their patients. Some webshops do exist, but they’re limited to one vendor. Our vision is to enable caregivers to make all of their purchases and manage communications with vendors in one place. We also want vendors to be able to automate everything in their sales process, both online and offline. 

Awesome! Tell us about the team behind this new medical marketplace. 

I studied engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and human-technology interaction in Holland. I’ve been working in the medtech industry for the last seven years, working closely with sales and caregivers. I met my co-founders Alexander and Ralph at the same time pretty randomly. I found Ralph through a marketplace for programmers, and it turned out he’d built something similar in the past but it never got finished so he was a perfect match for us. His background is in data science and AI, and he’s a very methodical, structured person which is really good for us. Alexander was also at KTH and has worked with startups for the last 10 years so he’s really good at growth hacking and that sort of stuff. We’ve been working together for about a year and a half now and we’re a great match for each other! 

What challenges have you faced so far?

Many! But I don’t really see them as challenges, more as a learning curve. I originally started the company with another team. At the beginning, I wanted to outsource the development of the platform but that didn’t really work out and I had to start over again. Then I found another CTO, but we just didn’t get along on a personal level.

There’s also challenges around how you choose to build a complex platform, as there’s so many routes you can take. You can build it as a service, from scratch or using a framework – and each has their own set of challenges. You can be limited by another system or limited by yourself if you choose to make everything from scratch – which can be difficult when you’re weighing up cost vs. time. It took a long time to figure out the best way to build Dropmed, but you just start somewhere and adapt as you go. I’ve actually had some really tough times with this project, as startups always do, but you can always overcome the problems. 

What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs? 

Finding the right people to work with is key to a successful startup. I really believe if you have the right team you can overcome anything. On the other hand, if you pursue your dreams and vision with the wrong team, it’s likely you’ll have to start from the beginning again. I wish I could’ve told myself to make sure I had the right team first, it would’ve saved me a lot of time! If you feel like you’re not compatible you should act on it pretty quickly. But even after creating the perfect team you still face challenges all the time. The only way to overcome them is to look at them objectively and find a solution. And remember that they only strengthen you as a person! 

From a product perspective, you really have to figure out the type of marketplace you want to build. Is it a product marketplace, a service marketplace, B2B or B2C? And what level of customization do you need? There are so many different types of marketplaces, and different technologies, you have to really understand what you need to build to make the right choice. This goes back to getting the right people on the team who can understand this – as it’s quite complex. 

What does a good team actually look like?

I think a good team involves people with very different competencies and personalities so you get different perspectives. You can also feel the team is right if you all seem to want the same thing and share the same vision. You have to respect each other’s boundaries too. I’m the kind of person who never sleeps and has no problem working until 11pm every night – I just can’t rest until something is done. But other people don’t want to do that so you need to make sure you understand each other’s work habits. 

Why did you want to work with healthtech?

I sort of just fell into the healthcare world but I love it! It’s a very stimulating industry that’s at the forefront of a lot of technologies. It’s also full of good people doing good things for others. One of my sisters is a doctor and one is a psychotherapist, and knowing I’m making their lives easier and helping others like them is really important to me. Generally, as a team we all like creating solutions that are valuable to the end user and we try to work iteratively with customers to develop what they need. The healthtech space is great if this is what drives you. 

What’s next for Dropmed? 

There’s lots of cool stuff going on! The platform is live and we have a fair amount of vendors, products and caregivers. Now we’re in a big growth stage and adding more products and functionalities to develop the platform in a way that the users really want. The more feedback we get – the better. We’re looking at some new interesting features (like adding a social component) so that caregivers and vendors can communicate directly with each other. We also want to introduce bulk management of large inventories to make it easier for larger vendors with many products. 

How have you found Sting so far? 

It’s an incredible program. There’s so much expertise and relevant opportunities on the table that you have to prioritize through. My advice would be to pick out three key things you want to improve on at Sting, but all of it’s for the taking really. The quality of support you get is also very high, so you get a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak. Surrounding yourself with other startups in the same space is also very motivating. But it’s really the vibe that I find the most exciting – often people don’t celebrate their wins enough, but at Sting you do! 

Would you like to learn more about Dropmed? 

Visit their website or reach out to Sebastian at sebastian.brieger@dropmed.se

Working with an innovative healthtech solution?

Apply to Sting now for your chance to join a community of inspiring entreprenuers and get access to a vast support ecosystem so you can make a bigger impact, faster.

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Healthtech March 1, 2021

What’s next in healthtech?

In 2020, all eyes were on health. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital health services and has increased ambitions for a better patient experience. Here is who we think you should keep an eye on in 2021.

The healthcare sector has faced unprecedented challenges during the last year. But where there are challenges, entrepreneurs find solutions. Fueled by new technologies or new business models, startups have been paving the way for the future of healthcare – now more than ever.

Investor interest in healthtech has also been booming. Early last year, KRY secured one of the largest deals of the year and raised €140m to expand its footprint. Sifted also noted a $750m increase from 2019 to 2020 in European healthtech investments. In total, Swedish healthtech startups raised a combined €396m during 2020 according to Dealroom, a record number.

Promoting health instead of cure

The future of health is not only patient-centered, the idea is to keep you from becoming a patient in the first place. Instead of curing, it’s about staying healthy as much as possible. Preventive, predictive, and personalized care are the new norm, all while you take an active role in your own health.

After the first wave of healthtech, where early adopters discovered the first health apps and lifestyle activity trackers, we are in the middle of the second wave that is aiming to digitize the outdated processes and experiences in the health care system through telemedicine, machine learning and AI. But we are also seeing signs of the third wave on the horizon, that has the potential to revolutionize the ways we interact with our bodies (as recently demonstrated by Elon Musk’s Neuralink) or develop new cures with computer-aided drug-design.

We believe that 2021 is going to be a great year for healthtech and to demonstrate that, we want to highlight 21 teams that you should keep an eye on.

Mental health

Mindler

Mindler enables you to talk with a certified psychologist through video call or chat. Early last year Mindler raised an €8 million Series A round, co-led by Ventech and Shibsted Growth, and has since expanded its services to France and The Netherlands.

Mindmore

Sting Alumni Mindmore digitizes cognitive tests and offers their SaaS platform to clinics to make cognitive status available for all patient groups that need it while streamlining testing procedures for healthcare staff.

Diagnostics

Capitainer

The blood collection device for microsampling from Capitainer enables easy and accurate sampling by non-healthcare professionals. The company announced in January that it has raised another SEK31 million to ramp up production capacity for Covid-19 antibody testing.

Profundus Imaging

At least 1 billion individuals globally have a vision impairment that could have been prevented. Profundus Imaging is a producer of an innovative camera used for earlier diagnosis of retina-related diseases. The company raised SEK 8.4 million in January 2021 from Almi Invest among others.

Amferia

Located in Gothenburg, Amferia develops anti-infective medical devices that can prevent bacterial infections including those caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. In January 2020 the company was able to secure SEK 6.2 million and aims to bring the product to the market within the next 3 years.

AlgoDx

Swedish startup AlgoDx focuses on supporting disease detection and prediction with machine learning algorithms. The first application is able to predict sepsis in hospitalized patients. AlgoDx has closed a €600K seed round early last year.

Symbiome

Symbiome develops a medical toolkit that customers can use for testing their intestinal flora and find out how their gut bacteria can affect their well-being. Users can take the test at home and get their results in about 6 weeks.

Jaisy Health

Jaisy, a Sting Incubate alumni, has developed a low cost solution for non-invasive jaundice detection and measurement in infants. The company has developed an optical mobile device that connects to any smartphone which measures the bilirubin level and predicts the risk of jaundice.

Chronic disease

Paindrainer

PainDrainer is a digital pain coach who, with the help of artificial intelligence, learns how your activities affect your pain. The app guides you and gives individual advice to help you plan your day and control your pain level.

Migränhjälpen

1.4 million Swedes suffer from migraines. Migränhjälpen, founded in 2019, is working for launching a digital service available for users looking to get treated for migraines. The company announced a capital raise of SEK 6.2 million in March 2020.

Alex Health

Alex is preventing people from getting chronically ill in the first place. 40% of all premature deaths could be prevented by changing behavior.
Combining technology with psychology and a consumer-first user experience, Alex treats unhealthy habits

Digital Diabetes Analytics

People living with diabetes currently spend billions on continuous glucose measurement, but are currently drowning in their data. Digital Diabetes Analytics provides an automated solution which analyses the data and generates systematic interpretations to transform diabetes care.

Itchy

Making digital treatment plans for Psoriasis patients, Itchy’s ambition is to make the daily life easier for people with Psoriasis and Atopic eczema. It combines an app with a journal and personalised treatment plans with skin care products.

Health Integrator

Sting Alumni Health Integrator strengthens the individual’s ability to achieve long-term changes in living habits, in order to prevent common diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The health platform provides access to a number of activities and health services.

Female Health

Tilly

Tilly, a sting company, is creating a one-stop-shop for personalised fertility support enabling proactive testning, easier ways to find relevant information and mental support.

Momentus

Momentus is an app that gives a new mother all the knowledge she needs about her own body and health after giving birth. The team was accepted into the Sting Incubate program in early 2021.

Grace Health

Grace is solving the current problem of accessibility and discretion by delivering a solution to the 1.9 billion women in emerging markets who lack access to women’s health services and information. It lets women track and understand their reproductive health.

Digital Health

Care To Translate

Sting Alumni Care to Translate offers medically correct communication with translations verified by native speakers to overcome language barriers in healthcare. They are active in over 200 countries and their app has more than 241.000 users.

Sensivo

Sensivo helps clinical researchers to store and manage research data in a flexible, collaborative and secure way. It provides a GDPR compliant, cloud-based spreadsheet for modern clinical research and sensitive personal data management.

Skinfo

Skinfo translates ingredients in cosmetic and skincare products with scientific facts to help more people choose, avoid or discover products based on their ingredients. The Sting Alumni simplifies complex data to increase consumers’ knowledge and understanding.

Kind

Malmö-based Kind is a secure communication platform tailored for healthcare providers and patients. It allows healthcare providers to communicate with patients, share care plans and documents. Since its Seed round in 2019, Kind has now started expanding beyond Sweden.


Need help to grow or scale your healthtech startup?

Through our new initiative, Sting Health Action, we support startups that, like us, believe that the future of health must be characterized by Personalization, Prediction, Prevention and Participation.

This will be a leading star when we now look for innovative and disruptive companies to join us. We’re especially interested in startups with ground-breaking technologies and scalable solutions within the following areas:

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnostics
  • Female Health
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemic Health Action

Thanks to extensive experience from scaling 300+ startups, we can give you access to unparalleled skills and knowledge and help increase your chances of success many times over.

Learn more about our support for Healthtech startups


Healthtech February 1, 2021

iCellate awarded €2.4 million with Horizon 2020

iCellate Medical, a cancer diagnostics company, together with QIAGEN and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, has received a grant of €2.4 million from the European Funding Agency, Horizon 2020.

The money will be used to expand the availability of CellMate® diagnostic test to specialized cancer diagnostic centers and private health clinics across Europe via the DeteCTCs consortium.

The prevalence of cancer on a global basis is estimated to double by 2035. Early detection and intervention is recognized as the most effective way to treat cancer and improve patient outcomes.

Today’s standard methods for early detection include mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, MRI, and tissue/tumor biopsy. These methods, however, have very limited efficacy for detecting many poorly accessible cancers such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and ovarian cancer (OC). Similar challenges exist in detecting individual tumor cells, which may exist in a patient for many years before they become detectable by conventional methods.

In the Horizon 2020 project, the DeteCTCs consortium will fast-track the development and market entry of iCellate’s multi-cancer blood test, CellMate®, for early detection of breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers.

– Imagine if you could detect and treat cancer before symptoms occur. If this becomes reality, cancer will not need to be such a dreadful disease, says Pelle Redare, CEO of iCellate.

– We are very excited to be a part of the DeteCTC consortium, says Jonathan Sheldon, Senior Vice President of QIAGEN Digital Insights. It’s imperative for the successful adoption of novel tests that the “Sample to Insight” experience is seamless. Easy to adopt, easy to use and easy to interpret for any testing lab. Working together we can bring our experiences, skills, NGS chemistry and software to make this happen.

About iCellate Medical
iCellate is a spin-off from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. The life science company has its offices and laboratory in Stockholm’s Hagalund, where the company performs its cancer diagnostic services. The company has received several awards and scientific grants from, for example, Roche, Eurostars, Vinnova, and AFA Insurance.

Healthtech December 3, 2020

Sequencing Company Single Technologies Raises $6.1M

Single Technologies has raised €5 million ($6.1 million) through an oversubscribed share offering, which it will use to accelerate development of its 3D sequencing platform.

The financing included existing investors, as well as new investors Jens von Bahr, Rothesay, Cygnus Montanus Trust, Ulf Landegren, and Andreas Ehn.

The company was founded in 2014 following several years of research in single-molecule imaging and biotechnology applications at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm combined with R&D in the fiber optical grating industry by the founders of the fiber optical company, Proximion.

Single’s sequencing platform uses a rapid confocal scanning system and a proprietary nanofluidic technology but does not require changes to existing sequencing chemistries. The company, which raised about $1.6 million earlier this year, has said its technology could potentially exceed Illumina’s NovaSeq in throughput while lowering sequencing costs.

– Single Technologies is aiming for an ultra-high-throughput solution based on our patented 3D sequencing technology, which enables both NGS and spatial sequencing. This new funding will enable us to finalize automating our 3D sequencing process, make it more robust, and improve quality for both whole-genome sequencing and transcriptomics applications.

Johan Strömqvist, founder and CEO of Single Technologies

He added that the company intends to open its first data sequencing production site in Stockholm by 2022.