More than 45 digital health startups are presenting news and products at 4YFN 2023
<p>The BioRegion of Catalonia has 212 digital health startups and this segment has become the fastest growing in the area. On average, there are 20 new innovative companies created each year in Catalonia and 95% of all these companies were established in the past 10 years.</p>
<p>Digital health firms attracted €39 million in 2022, similar to the amount raised in 2020 (€34 million). Joint turnover was €356 million, according to data from the 2022 BioRegion of Catalonia Report recently published by Biocat.</p>
<p>More than 50 Catalan companies and organizations from the health sector are taking part in 4YFN 2023 and MWC, giving it a bigger presence than almost any other sector at the fair that has made Barcelona an international benchmark in digital entrepreneurship.</p>
Barcelona, February 24, 2023.- In recent years, Catalonia has seen rapid growth in the number of digital health firms and 2022 confirmed that upward trend. While in 2010 there were only about 20 companies in the BioRegion, 12 years later there are 212: a tenfold increase in the number of innovative companies. This increase is reflected in the youth and explosive growth of this subsector, with joint turnover of €356 million, as shown in the 2022 BioRegion of Catalonia Report, promoted by Biocat since 2009 and presented this month in Barcelona.
“The main reasons for this boom were the COVID-19 outbreak, which accelerated the number and amount invested in digital health companies, and increased demand for remote solutions, rapidly expanding ICT infrastructures and heightened awareness of physical and mental wellbeing among the general public,” notes Biocat CEO Robert Fabregat.
In terms of investment, digital health startups in the BioRegion raised €39 million in 2022, similar to the amount secured in 2020, as has happened internationally given the economic situation and the uncertainties facing global investors, on top of the investment bonanza of 2021.
In fact, investment and funding in this market also shot up in the BioRegion in 2021, reaching €63 million, the most ever seen, due mainly to large operations over €10 million in startups like Koa Health (€30 million), TopDoctors (€11.2 million) and Mediktor (€11.2 million), all with international participation.
Predictions have the global digital health market continuing to grow, at 16.5% year on year, to hit $550 billion by 2027, as reflected in the technological report on digital health in Catalonia compiled by ACCIÓ, with collaboration from Biocat.
“It is a highly dynamic emerging industry driven by growing awareness of physical and mental wellbeing among the public, fast expansion of ICT, increased demand for remote solutions and greater use of mobile devices,” explains Albert Castellanos, secretary of Enterprise and Competitiveness and CEO of ACCIÓ. “Catalonia holds and will continue to hold a position of leadership in this arena because we are the great technological hub of southern Europe and have one of the most developed industries in the healthcare sector on the continent,” he says. For Castellanos, “4YFN is the best opportunity to show off the technological solutions being developed by Catalan startups in this sector to the world and further project our ecosystem internationally.”
The main technologies these companies use are artificial intelligence, omic technologies, virtual reality, augmented reality and big data. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality have received more investment than other types of technology.
BioRegion of Catalonia at 4YFN 2023: over 50 companies and organizations presenting news
With sector maturity at a high point, it is time for 4YFN: one of the most important international events for startups that has made Barcelona a benchmark in digital entrepreneurship. This event, which kicks off Monday february 27 and runs through March 2, is once again sharing the Gran Via fairgrounds in Barcelona with the Mobile World Congress (MWC).
This year, 50 companies and organizations from the BioRegion of Catalonia will be taking part, a figure that makes the healthcare sector one of the most represented at the event. Of these, 20 companies will be in the space coordinated by ACCIÓ, Biocat and the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS), located in the Health zone.
In the words of AQuAS Head of Health Technology Assessment Rosa Maria Vivanco, “It is particularly significant that AQuAS, as an organization that focuses on assessment, data analysis and innovation adoption to improve the healthcare system, is promoting this space with Biocat and ACCIÓ. An alliance that promotes these innovative proposals and highlights the need for assessment of new health technologies. As such, we are sharing our new methodological framework for assessing digital health technologies at 4YFN, a framework for a growing sector that addresses the intrinsic particularities of assessing this type of technology.”
The startups that will be in the joint pavilion are: Aimentia HealthTech, Anais Medical, Aortyx, Biointaxis, Breaz Medical, Gate2Brain, Genomcore, Health Circuit, Imaz Technology Innovation, Integra Therapeutics, MedBrain, Methinks, Nen Evidence Based Solutions, Newborn Solutions, Nixi for Children, Oniria Therapeutics, Time is Brain, Trialing Health, Vincer.ai and Wivi Vision.
Many of them will take advantage to do some networking, but also to share their latest news and milestones reached over the past year, including some of these below:
- Aortyx, a medtech startup that is delivering a new generation of endovascular devices to treat vascular diseases, will present its new catheter to treat aortic dissections, designed for the most complex arterial geometries, which has shown positive results in clinical trials on cadavers. So far, the company has developed biodegradable, bioadhesive prostheses with mechanical properties similar to healthy vessels, which encourages wound healing and endothelial regeneration. The patch is put into the damaged blood vessel using a minimally invasive endovascular catheter.
- Genomcore, a digital health firm, will showcase new low-code capacities to help healthcare professionals implement digital solutions quickly and easily. With these new tools from the startup from the BioRegion specializing in data solutions for implementing precision medicine, users will be able to create personalized health solutions without the need for extensive technical knowledge.
Low-code technology minimizes or eliminates the amount of manual coding needed to develop and roll out software. This not only cuts costs and time, but also opens the doors to digitalization for companies and employees with limited training in digital skills.
- The biotech firm Integra Therapeutics will display its new gene-writing platform, FiCAT, designed to overcome the main limitations of gene therapies and make them safer and more efficient (gene size, precision and stability). The company plans to present the results of in vivo trials this year.
Additionally, the spinoff of Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) founded in 2020 will also take advantage of their participation in 4YFN to announce that they have licensed a new CRISPR system from CIC nanoGUNE that, for the first time ever, uses Cas proteins from over 2.6 billion years ago, as well as a partnership with Lithuanian company Caszyme, which specializes in development and application of molecular tools.
- Digital health firm nen will present its prototype of a game to help children with cancer manage their pain in order to improve their wellbeing, as well as that of their families and healthcare professionals. Over the past year, they have tested the prototype with “very positive results” from the patients. Next they will validate their solution in various centers around Europe and the United States.
Other digital health companies in Catalonia that have achieved noteworthy milestones recently include Nixi For Children, which has implemented its virtual reality solution at two hospitals in the United States for the first time this year and is competing in the first 4YFN 2023 Digital Health Pitch Battle, where five health startups taking part in the fair will pitch their solution to health investors.
Also notable is the latest achievement of NewBorn Solutions, which has been granted official approval for a clinical trial in Morocco. This will allow them to continue validating their medical device. And Health Circuit, which is kicking off a touring exhibition to various European hospitals to share a prototype of their solution. So far, they have interest from Hospital Clinic Barcelona, Mannheim University Hospital (Germany) and McGill University Health Center (Canada).
In terms of funding, Aimentia HealthTech announced a €500,000 capital injection this month to continue expanding the business and improve their artificial intelligence platform for mental health. Also Methinks, one of the Catalan startups that received €2.5 million in late 2021 through the EIC Accelerator (European Commission) and has just been granted CE marking for its stroke triage software using artificial intelligence (AI).