12 innovative European medtech start-ups to watch

8 Jun 2018

Monument of Polish physicist and chemist, and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Marie Skłodowska Curie, in Warsaw. Curie embodies the spirit of European medtech innovation that continues today. Image: Fotokon/Shutterstock

We look at 12 innovative start-ups from across Europe that are keeping the flame of European medtech innovation alive.

Europe has always been at the crossroads of medical innovation, going back to the creation of the Hippocratic Oath around 420BCE to the groundbreaking work of Marie Skłodowska Curie in pioneering radiological research, and Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in the 20th century.

That spirit of innovation espoused by Curie and many others lives on in the 21st century through the breakthrough innovations of a plethora of young start-ups combining digital and medical technologies.

These start-ups are fostering everything from AI and deep learning to mobile sensors and more, to ensure that we live longer, healthier lives.

We are only scratching the surface of what is happening around Europe in terms of medtech, but here are 12 start-ups to watch in 2018 and beyond.

Ada (Germany)

Ada was founded by Daniel Nathrath, Dr Claire Novorol and Dr Martin Hirsch in 2011, and has offices in Berlin, London and Munich. Launched in 2016, the Ada app acts as a health companion, using AI to help users understand their symptoms and connect them to a doctor. Last October, Ada raised $47m in a funding round led by Access Industries, bringing its total amount raised to almost $70m.

Ava (Switzerland)

Zurich medtech company Ava specialises in women’s health by way of the Ava bracelet, which uses a patented big-data approach to detect a woman’s fertility window. The start-up empowers couples who are trying to get pregnant by giving them precise insights about the menstrual cycle based on 3m data points measured every night. Founded in 2014 by Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein, Pascal Koenig and Lea von Bidder, Ava only recently raised $30m in a Series B round of funding.

Bambi Medical (The Netherlands)

Eindhoven-based Bambi Medical has developed a vital sign-monitoring device for babies. Worn by the baby, it monitors vital neonatal signs and replaces uncomfortable adhesive electrodes. So far, 20 hospitals are trialling the technology ahead of its market launch. Co-founded in 2015 by Sidarto Bambang Oetomo, Fabio Bambang Oetomo and Avinash Kale, Bambi Medical recently raised €4m in a funding round.

BrainWaveBank (Northern Ireland)

Belfast’s BrainWaveBank builds tools for analysing brain health, especially dementia. The company says its machine-learning techniques detect cognitive decline at an early stage. It has created a wearable that pairs with a user’s smartphone and monitors their brain activity while playing video games. Founded by Brian Murphy, Ronan Cunningham, Siggi Saevarsson and Urs Streidl, the company has raised £1m so far in seed funding from the Angel CoFund and Techstart NI.

Diaceutics (Ireland)

Dundalk-based Diaceutics is a diagnostics and data company that works with 26 out of the world’s top 30 pharmaceutical companies and provides oversight of testing in 23 markets. The core focus is to ensure patients get access to potentially life-saving therapies. Each year, Diaceutics’ technology helps 48,000 cancer patients in the US and EU get biomarker testing and therefore potentially gain access to the right drug for their specific condition. Diaceutics was founded in 2005 by Peter and Ryan Keeling and, in April, raised €4.3m in financing from WhiteRock Capital Partners and Silicon Valley Bank.

Fimmic (Finland)

Helsinki’s Fimmic has developed Aiforia, an AI tissue diagnostics platform for virtual microscopy. Its WebMicroscope platform enables AI-based image analysis of tissue. Founded in 2013, the technology is designed to handle large, gigapixel-sized images of scanned tissues and biopsies. It was founded by Johan Lundin, Kari Pitkanen and Mikael Lundin and its CEO is Kaisa Helminen. Fimmic raised €5m last December in a funding round led by Ascend Capital Partners with participation from Acme Investments and STO-Rahoitus.

HealthBeacon (Ireland)

Jim Joyce standing beside medtech machine

HealthBeacon CEO Jim Joyce with one of the company’s machines. Image: HealthBeacon

Dublin-based HealthBeacon’s Smart Sharps System helps patients adhere to their medication schedule. The digital platform, which recently received vital FDA clearance for the US market, not only ensures that patients keep up with their injectable treatments but also allows them to dispose of medication in a safe way, and keeps carers up to date with the patients’ progress. HealthBeacon last year revealed plans to create 20 new jobs in Dublin in roles spanning IT, software development, project management and customer service, to bring its headcount close to 40 people. It was founded by Jim Joyce and Kieran Daly in 2013 and the company opened offices in Boston last year.

Heartbeat Medical (Germany)

Cologne-based Heartbeat Medical has developed the Heartbeat One system, a patient-reported outcome software that tracks and follows up with patients, and helps doctors to compare datasets on patient outcomes. It is being used by 50,000 patients in Charité university hospital in Berlin and two of Germany’s largest private hospital chains, Sana and Helios. Founded in 2013 by Yannik Schreckenberger, Yunus Uyargil, Sebastian Tilch and Marc Tiedemann, Heartbeat Medical recently raised €3m from HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and High-Tech Gründerfonds.

Medherant (UK)

Coventry-based Medherant is developing the TEPI Patch, a transdermal drug delivery patch for administering doses of drugs through the skin. The start-up is a spin-out from the University of Warwick and was founded by Prof David Haddleton to develop and commercialise novel technologies for the delivery of drugs via the skin using bioadhesive polymer chemistry. It recently raised £3.8m in funding in a round led by Mercia Technologies.

Neurent Medical (Ireland)

Pictured: David Townley and Brian Shields. Image: Michael Dillon

From left: David Townley and Brian Shields. Image: Michael Dillon

Galway-based Neurent Medical has developed a technology that allows doctors to treat the nasal condition rhinitis from offices rather than in a surgery. The single-use device is introduced through the nostrils into the nasal cavity under direct endoscopic visualisation, where it deploys a microelectrode array that delivers targeted energy to interrupt the autonomic function within the mucosal structures of nasal cavities, to reverse the inflammatory cascade. Neurent Medical was founded by Brian Shields and David Townley and originated from the BioInnovate Ireland programme at NUI Galway. The company recently raised €9.3m in a funding round led by Fountain Healthcare Partners including participation from Atlantic Bridge Capital, the Western Development Commission, Enterprise Ireland as well as a syndicate of Irish medtech veterans.

UgenTec (Belgium)

UgenTec delivers an independent diagnostic platform to help molecular labs with their DNA (PCR) analyses. It develops software called FastFinder using AI for analysing polymerase chain reaction, a common method of analysing DNA for infectious diseases and in oncology. UgenTec recently raised €7.5m from investment firm LRM, Imec, KU Leuven, Gemma Frisius Fund, and biotech investors Annie Vereecken and Herman Verrelst. It was founded in 2014 by Tom Martens and Wouter Uten and its CEO is Steven Verhoeven.

Xeltis (Switzerland)

Based in Zurich, medical device start-up Xeltis is “naturally restoring the heart valve” using a therapeutic approach called endogenous tissue restoration. In November of last year, Xeltis raised €45m in a Series C round, which the company described as “the largest funding round for a European private medical device company in 2017”. The FDA has granted Xeltis approval for a patient trial and the company, which was founded by Martijn Cox in 2006, was recognised by Siliconrepublic.com last year for its role as a Swiss start-up at the nexus of import innovations in medtech.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years