Digital health start-ups converge in Dublin for three-month bootcamp

1 Mar 2013

Participants from the eight start-ups taking part in HealthXL

Eight ventures that are pioneering technologies in the digital health space are preparing to start a three-month accelerator programme in Dublin this week. Eoghan Jennings, founder of Startupbootcamp Dublin, talks about how HealthXL will aim to help these start-ups bring their disruptive technologies to the global health market.

Last year, Startupbootcamp held its first accelerator programme in Dublin to incubate 10 start-ups in the digital and technology space, but this year the focus will purely be on digital health ventures.

Jennings says HealthXL is an outgrowth of Startupbootcamp.

“We looked at the various sectors where there was momentous change but also where there was some real potential for disrupting a large market.”

He says technology has an exciting role to play in the global health market right now.

“What we’re doing is not effectively taking brand new technology or creating new technology; it’s really taking existing technology and applying it to health,” explains Jennings.

“Our focus is really on the adoption of technology, addressing the market and getting into the marketplace.”

Along with Jennings, HealthXL will be run by Jim Joyce, who is CEO of the healthcare company Point of Care; Conor Hanley, managing director of ResMed Ireland; Martin Kelly, a partner at IBM Venture Capital Group; and the radiologist Dr Johnny Walker.

HealthXL is also being supported by the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Silicon Valley Bank, Cleveland Clinic, Enterprise Ireland and Reckitt Benckiser. Individuals from these organisations will be mentoring the start-ups.

“We have a huge worldwide network of mentors,” explains Jennings, pointing to the investor Esther Dyson who is an advisory board member of HealthXL, as well as a mentor.

He says the approach HealthXL took in selecting the start-ups to take part involved screening more than 250 companies.

“We asked 100 of those companies to apply. We then took 30 of these companies into three selection days in London, Dublin and Minneapolis. From those selection days we narrowed it down to eight companies.”

launch of HealthXL in Science Gallery

HealthXL mentors Johnny Walker; Eoghan Jennings, director; and Jim Joyce at the launch of HealthXL in Science Gallery last September

Of the eight start-ups, two are from Ireland, while the others hail from Finland, the US, Ghana, Canada and Australia.

Jennings says the companies are slightly more mature in their start-up development. They will be based in Trinity College Dublin’s enterprise campus.

“We’re quite excited about bringing companies from outside Ireland, incubating them and sending them back into their home markets,” he says.

“It’s a place where we can bring people for three months. They are able to focus, away from their daily grind. Sometimes, we get them to stop building a product and go back and rethink it.”

He says the accelerator will also draw upon Ireland’s expertise in the health arena, particularly around pharma and med tech.

“We’re leveraging the talent that we have here at our fingertips.”

As well as mentoring, each of the start-ups will get €15,000 to tide them over during their time in Dublin. At the end of the programme, HealthXL will take an 8pc equity stake in each venture.

The companies will also be pitching to potential investors at an event in Dublin at the end of May.

Snapshot of the companies taking part in HealthXL

The two Irish start-ups are Nutritics and Sense of Skin. Nutritics is developing a diet and nutrition tracking and analysis software program. Sense of Skin has come up with a technology-enabled programme to help people with sensitive skin avoid unsuitable health and beauty products.

Hailing from Finland, NurseBuddy is a tool that has been designed to help nurses manage their day-to-day jobs using tablet devices.

Ghana-based ClaimSync has developed software to help healthcare facilities automate their patients’ records and to process medical records electronically.

From Canada, Evinance has developed a real-time decision support platform based on evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

Perk Health is a US company that is inventing a virtual personal trainer to help self-insured firms save money on their healthcare costs.

Also from the US is myMedScore, a company that is pioneering a cloud-based medical credit scoring and engagement platform.

Finally, Australian company goAct is specialising in web-based software solutions for mental health professionals and their clients.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic