Digital Health Ecosystem Portugal – ECHAlliance Ecosystem of the Month – March

18th March 2021

1. What is the approximate stakeholder breakdown of your ecosystem?

Digital Health PORTUGAL (DHP) is a civil society initiative that congregates founders, guest CXOs and top managers from a mix of Portuguese organizations comprising patient associations, health services and technology providers and the Ministries of Healthcare in mainland Portugal and the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores.

The profile of the members and entities of this ecosystem is diverse:

  • Policy makers – we have a very frequent presence in our actions of entities related to the Portuguese ministry of health, such as SPMS (https://www.spms.min-saude.pt/), the entity responsible for all the technological infrastructure of this ministry, as well as local entities (municipalities, intermunicipal communities) with direct political responsibility for the communities
  • Patient and Citizen associations – one of the aims of the DHP is to disseminate knowledge and not to keep it in silos, so collaboration with these entities is a priority; as an example, we have the Portuguese Multiple Sclerosis Society (https://spem.pt/) as a member
  • Research and Development centres – vital pieces in the acceleration of research and development projects; 
  • Universities and Knowledge Centres – the DHP is always concerned with making its events and initiatives known and accessible to those who will be, in the near future, the major political and business decision-makers
  • Health incumbents – partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinics, etc. are the driving force behind many of our initiatives and ultimately connect the dots between patient organisations, industry and companies offering products and services in digital health
  • Start-ups, SMEs and Business Associations – are the target of many of DHP’s actions and initiatives and that find in our value proposition a clear and efficient networking dynamics and international scale
  • Investors – the DHP, being the promoter of an ecosystem with a very relevant business potential, ends up attracting many (national and international) interested parties to invest in the growth and strengthening of Portuguese companies and the digital health business

2. Who are the top 3 champions from your Ecosystem?

iLOF (https://ilof.tech/– the Portuguese startup crosses photonics with artificial intelligence: through a device with an optical fibre cable, light signals are emitted to analyse biological fluids in about six minutes. The samples are analysed virtually, creating biological profiles; in 2019 the first investment in iLoF was announced: two million euros, by the European competition EIT Health. In July 2020, the startup received one million dollars (824,000 euros) from Microsoft’s venture capital fund (M12) and the Mayfield capital company.

Portugal Ventures (https://www.portugalventures.pt/en/) – Portugal Ventures was founded in 2012 to drive the global success of Portuguese companies, helping them achieve competitiveness goals in all stages of development; a benchmark venture capital partner in Portugal, designing differentiated strategies for the growth, competitiveness and internationalisation potential for each of our portfolio companies; since 2012, Portugal Ventures has invested €146 million in 130 new companies (PRE-SEED, SEED and SERIES A stages).

COTEC (https://cotecportugal.pt/) – COTEC Portugal is the main Portuguese business association for the promotion of innovation and business technological cooperation, and is the official Innovation Partner of Digital Health Portugal. The universe of COTEC Portugal includes multinational companies, large national groups and SMEs, in various sectors of activity, representing, in aggregate terms, more than 16% of GDP in gross value added and 8% of private employment. The main activities of COTEC Portugal include the anticipation and reflection on key innovation issues impacting on business competitiveness, the activation of collaborative platforms and networks and the contribution to the improvement of public policies in matters of innovation.

3. What EU funding/collaboration are you involved with, or you would like to be part of?

As Portugal is one of the countries where European funds usually make a big difference in the strategy for growth, development and internationalization, DHP is expanding its network of partnerships with key members that can respond and advise on the needs of its members and partners in the new dynamics of Portugal 2030 and Horizon Europe.

4. What are the key priorities and themes for your ecosystem? 

The short-medium term strategy of the DHP is based on the following priorities:

  • clarification and differentiation of the value proposition of the DHP to some potential members, in order to attract new members
  • the creation of the Portuguese digital health barometer is already underway, a privileged information tool for the different stakeholders interested in this ecosystem
  • taking advantage of the Portuguese EU presidency traction, the DHP will hold a summit in october 2021, in the city of Oporto, where we want to update the spirit of our ancestors discoverers who made parts of the world known and were facilitators of communication between different peoples and cultures… in this event we will bring the european ecosystem closer to other ecosystems with which Portugal has a privileged relationship, such as India, Brazil and the portuguese-speaking african countries.

5. What is your primary strength as an ecosystem?

A very strong focus on networking between the different members, a great agility in the operationalisation of actions and events that promote the business in digital health and the great purpose of projecting the Portuguese digital health ecosystem internationally.

6. Who are your clinical champions either hospitals, clinicians, specialities

Portugal could be a case study in the use of proton beam technology at the forefront of oncological treatment. This is an alternative to conventional radiotherapy, which presents greater precision and a reduction in side effects.

There are already 93 proton beam units in the world, 27 of which are in the European Union. It is estimated that in 2024 two health units will appear in Portugal in the National Health System that contemplate this technology. 

A centre will be opened in Loures city, on the “Nuclear and Technological Campus” of the “Instituto Superior Técnico”, worth 100 million Euros, with special focus on the treatment of complex cancers in children, such as brain, neck and lung. There will be a second unit in Coimbra city, at the “Instituto de Ciências Nucleares Aplicadas à Saúde”, with an investment of 30 million euros, entirely dedicated to vision.”

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