Over the five years of d·HEALTH Barcelona, the program has trained 50 fellows from various disciplines: the life sciences, engineering, business and design. Of these, 90% have found work in the healthcare sector and 48% have their own business project.
As a result of the clinical immersions at the hospitals, five teams from the first four classes of d·HEALTH Barcelona have made their projects into start-ups: usMIMA (MOWOOT), My-Qup, Happy Injections, Loop Dx and I-Ophthalmology. In total, these start-ups have raised €2.5 million and helped more than 1,100 patients with various conditions. From the fifth class, which graduated on October 30 this year, three projects are carrying on with development and one of them, dbreath, has joined a Barcelona Activa pre-acceleration program.
Biologists Markus Wilhelms and Inmaculada Herrero, product designer Marc Benet and engineer Ángel Calzada made up one of the multidisciplinary teams that participated in the very first edition of the d·HEALTH Barcelona program. After two intense months of clinical immersion at Institut Guttmann, where most patients are in a wheelchair, they reached a surprising conclusion. "Patients told us they had gotten used to not being able to walk but not being able to control their bowels lowered their quality of life. That changed our point of view as to the needs we had to resolve," they explain. After completing the program, they founded their own company, usMIMA, which has already launched its smart solution to market: MOWOOT, a medical device that is non-pharmacological and non-invasive, which automatically simulates the abdominal massages targeting the colon that professional physical therapists give patients with chronic idiopathic or neurological constipation (spinal injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson, etc.).
For ten years, Vanessa Gurie, physical therapist and MBA, headed up the Cirque du Soleil sports medicine department from Australia for 48 countries. In 2017, she moved to Spain to join the d·HEALTH Barcelona fellowship. During the program, Gurie did a clinical immersion in the Ophthalmology unit at Hospital Clinic, where she discovered that patients are faced with long waiting lists before they can get an appointment with an ophthalmologist, as there is a global shortage of professionals in this specialization. To tackle this challenge, Gurie and her team came up with a smart solution: the I-Ophthalmology project, a telemedicine system to connect patients with ophthalmologists remotely, saving on in-person visits. The project has already won several awards in Europe and the United States and is currently working to develop its technology. "Our short-term goal is to reach the market and, in the longer term, to have a global impact so that all patients have access to eye care whenever they need it," explains Gurie.
Each year, 8 million people in the world die of sepsis, a serious inflammatory response by the body to infection that can lead to multiple organ failure and, therefore, death. Although not yet well known, in Spain alone there are more than 50,000 cases a year, 17,000 of which end in death. This mortality rate is higher than for traffic accidents and even breast or colon cancer. The symptoms are not very specific, so a fast diagnosis is key to increasing the chances of survival. Biotechnologist Enrique Hernández detected this need during his clinical immersion at Institut Guttmann during the 2017 d·HEALTH Barcelona program. In order to tackle it, he has designed a diagnostic device: Loop Dx, the first quick test to identify bacterial infections in the blood using immune system activity. Similar in appearance to a pregnancy test, it is a diagnostic kit that aims to help ER doctors make better clinical decisions, advancing antibiotic therapy in patients with sepsis to reduce mortality rates.