25 European medtech and life sciences start-ups to watch in 2019

24 Jan 2019

Image: © eggeeggjiew/Stock.adobe.com

Europe is in good health when it comes a diverse and innovative mix of medtech start-ups. These are the ones to watch in 2019.

From clever use of artificial intelligence (AI) by fusing it with apps on smart devices, to new ways of diagnosing and treating illnesses, European medtech and life sciences start-ups are pushing the innovation envelope further than ever thought possible.

As today’s crop of start-ups to watch indicates, technical excellence vies with imagination and business knowhow, culminating in a very switched-on cohort indeed.

This listing is part of our Europe Start-up 100 series for 2019, which every day this week has focused on a different list, including e-commerce and fintech, deep tech, and hardware and IoT start-ups. Tomorrow (25 January), we will publish our full Europe Start-up 100 list of the ones to watch.

Remember, these lists are not absolute because they are only a dip in the ocean of European innovation. As such, they are devised to give you a flavour of the kind of activity that is happening.

And so, here are our 25 European medtech and life sciences start-ups to watch in 2019.

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. In 2017, Ada raised $47m in a funding round led by Access Industries, bringing its total amount raised to almost $70m.

Aiforia (Finland)

Helsinki’s Aiforia, previously known as Fimmic, has developed an AI tissue diagnostics platform called WebMicroscope for virtual microscopy. 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 Pitkänen and Mikael Lundin and its CEO is Kaisa Helminen. It raised €5m in December 2017 in a funding round including Ascend Capital Partners, Acme Investments and Sto-Rahoitus.

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 Lea von Bidder, Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein and Pascal Koenig, Ava raised $30m last year in a Series B round of funding.

Bambi Medical (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. Co-founded in 2015 by Sidarto Bambang Oetomo, Fabio Bambang Oetomo and Avinash Kale, Bambi Medical has raised more than €6m in funding to date.

BioBeats (UK)

Led by CEO Dr David Plans, UK-based BioBeats is a digital health and AI company that specialises in creating easy-to-use corporate and personal wellness solutions. After first dabbling in hardware, the company shifted to B2B and health systems. Through its BioBase app, it works with employees at client companies to help them manage their stress in the workplace. With actor and singer Will Smith among its backers, the company revealed in August 2018 that it had secured $3m in funding led by Oxford Sciences Innovation, White Cloud Capital and IQ Capital, bringing total funding to more than $6m.

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. With a leadership team of CEO Ronan Cunningham, CSO Dr Brian Murphy and CTO Dr Timothy Davison, the company has raised about £3m in funding so far with investors including Angel CoFund and Techstart NI.

Diaceutics (Ireland)

Middle-aged man in grey jacket leans against a wall.

Peter Keeling, CEO, Diaceutics. Image: Diaceutics

Dundalk-based Diaceutics is a diagnostics and data company that works with 31 of the world’s top 35 pharmaceutical companies. The core focus is to ensure patients get access to potentially life-saving therapies. Diaceutics’ technology helps cancer patients 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 last April it raised €4.3m in financing from WhiteRock Capital Partners and Silicon Valley Bank.

Dobco Medical Systems (Belgium)

Dobco Medical Systems specialises in web-based solutions for medical imaging. Founded in the Belgian city of Sint-Niklaas in 2011 by Jan Dobbenie and Kristof Coucke, the company received €2.2m in funding last year from Fortino Capital to expand internationally in countries including Norway, Switzerland and France. The firm has developed the PACSonWEB platform, which allows efficient exchange of medical images and reports. It aims to offer faster, safer access to medical data to doctors and patients.

Doctena (Luxembourg)

Booking platform Doctena wants to take the headache out of scheduling medical appointments for both patients and practitioners alike. The platform allows users to search for a doctor by speciality, location and even language spoken. It then facilitates a swift and seamless booking process. Founded in 2013 in Luxembourg, the venture has since spread to Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. It has raised a total of €12.5m, €8m of which was generated in 2018.

Etsimo (Finland)

Etsimo offers a healthcare platform that leverages AI and machine learning on top of health data, making it possible for healthcare providers and insurance companies to instantly offer their customers an engaging experience through digital channels. The company also enables consumers to perform physical and mental healthcare need self-assessments. Founded in Finland, Etsimo is led by CEO Thomas Grandell. As it hit the two-year mark in December 2018, it raised a funding round from Terveystalo, a Finnish healthcare service company, in exchange for 20pc of equity.

Fluidic Analytics (UK)

Cambridge spin-out Fluidic Analytics has developed technologies based on a proprietary platform from the University of Cambridge to find better ways to diagnose diseases and develop treatments. Inspired by the roles that proteins play in the biological world, the company is creating lab tools that help to understand, in real time, the interaction between drugs and patients with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, for example. Founded by Dr Tuomas Knowles in 2013, the company is led by CEO Andrew Lynn. Last November it raised $31m in a funding round led by Draper Esprit, with participation from Delin Ventures, BGF, IQ Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners.

HealthBeacon (Ireland)

Two men in dark jackets sit before a green wall holding a white medical device.

From left: Co-founders Kieran Daly and Jim Joyce. Image: HealthBeacon

Dublin-based HealthBeacon’s Smart Sharps System helps patients adhere to their medication schedule. The digital platform, which last year 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. It was founded by Jim Joyce and Kieran Daly in 2013 and the company opened offices in Boston in 2017. In recent weeks the company raised $12m in a Series A round organised by HealthBeacon and Cantor Fitzgerald, led by Oyster Capital and Elkstone Partners, and the investment syndicate included Quorndon Capital and Cantor Fitzgerald’s private client group.

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. It is being used by patients in Charité University Hospital in Berlin and two of Germany’s largest private hospital chains, Sana and Helios. Founded by Yannik Schreckenberger, Yunus Uyargil, Sebastian Tilch and Marc Tiedemann, Heartbeat Medical last year raised €3m from HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and High-Tech Gründerfonds.

Healthera (UK)

Healthera is a software company based in Cambridge that connects patients to GPs in the NHS. It offers an app where you can order repeat prescriptions from your local pharmacy, talk to pharmacists and book clinical services. It was founded in 2015 by University of Cambridge alumni Jin Dai, Martin Hao and Quintus Liu. Healthera has raised £3.3m to date, with a Series A round last August providing £3m. Investors include ADV, Future Care Capital and University of Cambridge Enterprise.

Healx (UK)

Healx uses AI to discover and develop treatments for rare diseases by combining AI with pharmacological expertise and patient engagement. Founded in 2014 by Dr Andreas Bender, Dr David Brown and Dr Tim Guilliams, this Cambridge start-up has raised $11.9m, including a $10m Series A round led by Balderton Capital. As of this month, Healx has succeeded in bringing two drugs to clinic with plans to add 10 more as it grows. Ultimately, the company aims to find treatment for 100 rare diseases by 2025.

Kite Medical (Ireland)

From left: Kite Medical CTO Paul Frehill, co-founder and CSO Sarah Loughney, and CEO Joan FitzPatrick. Image: Kite Medical

First coming to attention as one of 10 start-ups that pitched to investors on the Enterprise Ireland Big Ideas stage in 2015, Galway-based medtech firm Kite Medical created a stress-free test for kidney reflux. A spin-out of the NUI Galway BioInnovate programme, the company is led by CSO Sarah Loughney, CEO Joan FitzPatrick and CTO Paul Frehill. In April of 2018, the company secured major funding worth €1.5m comprising a mix of private investment and Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up funding.

Medherant (UK)

Coventry-based Medherant is developing the Tepi Patch, a transdermal drug delivery patch for administering doses of drugs through the skin. A spin-out from the University of Warwick, the medtech start-up was founded by the university and Prof David Haddleton to develop and commercialise novel technologies for the delivery of drugs via the skin using bioadhesive polymer chemistry. Medherant raised £3.8m in a funding round led by Mercia Technologies in 2017, and secured a grant from Innovate UK in late 2018.

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 medtech that allows doctors to treat the nasal condition rhinitis from offices rather than in a surgery. Neurent Medical was founded by Brian Shields and David Townley, and originated from the BioInnovate Ireland programme at NUI Galway. The company last year 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.

Nuritas (Ireland)

Founded in 2014 by mathematician and bioinformatician Dr Nora Khaldi in Dublin, Nuritas uses AI and genomics to predict and provide access to bioactive peptides within food that hold major health benefits. The company is a major funding success story, having raised €53.9m so far over five rounds. The most recent round, with €30m, was led by the European Investment Bank in November 2018. Previous investors including Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, U2’s Bono and The Edge, and NDRC.

Oura (Finland)

Struggle to nod off at night? Sounds like you need to enlist the help of Oura, a Finnish venture that runs a sleep improvement platform. A wearable ring device coupled with the Oura app can monitor sleep and provide daily feedback to help people better understand their bodies and improve the quality of their slumber. The company has drummed up a total of $33.6m over four venture rounds, the most recent of which was for $20m in December 2018. This last round was led by MSD Capital, a private investment firm that manages the funds of Dell Corporation founder Michael Dell and his family.

Sword Health (Portugal)

Sword Health is a Portuguese medtech start-up that provides digital physical therapy through pairing digital therapists with human clinical teams, aiming for faster patient recovery. The company developed an AI-enabled physiotherapy solution called Sword Phoenix for physical rehabilitation. The platform harnesses data collected by sensors, which are then monitored by remote physiotherapists. Sword Health was founded in 2014 and is led by CEO Virgílio Bento. Since then, Sword Health has had three funding rounds, its most recent of which raised $4.6m, backed by Green Innovations, Vesalius Biocapital III, and other unnamed investors in the US and Europe.

UgenTec (Belgium)

UgenTec delivers an independent diagnostic platform to help molecular labs with their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses. It develops software called FastFinder using AI for analysing PCR, a common method of analysing DNA for infectious diseases and in oncology. UgenTec last year raised €7.5m from 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.

Ultromics (UK)

Oxford-based Ultromics is using AI to diagnose coronary heart disease. The company claims to have created the world’s most accurate echocardiography software to improve diagnosis by more than 90pc. Founded in 2017 by Paul Leeson and Ross Upton, Ultromics last year raised £10m in an investment led by Oxford Sciences Innovation, bringing total funding in the company to £12m.

WhiteSwell (Ireland)

3d medical background with DNA strands and heart.

Image: © Kirsty Pargeter/Stock.adobe.com

Galway-headquartered WhiteSwell, which has a research team in Israel, is pioneering a new way to treat heart failure. It takes a minimally invasive catheter-based approach designed to more efficiently remove excess interstitial fluid in patients with acute decompensated heart failure by enhancing the natural fluid removal process of the lymphatic system. Founded in 2014 by Yaacov Nitzan and led by CEO Eamon Brady, WhiteSwell last month raised $30m in a series B funding round led by RA Capital Management and an InCube Ventures syndicate, with participation from other investors.

Xeltis (Switzerland)

Based in Zurich, medtech start-up Xeltis is “naturally restoring the heart valve” using a therapeutic approach called endogenous tissue restoration. In 2017, 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”. That same year, the FDA granted Xeltis approval for a patient trial. Co-founder and CTO Martijn Cox said: “Funding for and access to fundamental knowledge and innovation is imperative for the future of healthcare.”