Finland – Health Capital Helsinki Ecosystem is ECHAlliance Ecosystem of the Month – May

17th May 2022

This month we are excited to be able to feature our Health Capital Helsinki Ecosystem as Ecosystem of the Month. Andy Bleaden, our Communities Director, says: “Our ECHAlliance Ecosystem in Helsinki – Health Capital Helsinki demonstrates all that is needed from an active ecosystem: a strong stakeholder group, great champions and clear vision, priorities and strengths.”

What is the approximate stakeholder breakdown of your ecosystem?

We are an active health and life sciences ecosystem, where public funding enables and fosters innovations, growth and business. All Health Capital Helsinki alliance members (see below) invest in various health-related projects and initiatives, and together, they are more than the sum of their parts. The role of Health Capital Helsinki is to coordinate the activities, make matches, and help people navigate the ecosystem.

Health Capital Helsinki is funded by eight organizations, which are active in health and health-related innovations:

  • City of Helsinki. The capital city of Finland. Also, the largest service provider of primary healthcare in the country.
  • City of Espoo. Part of the Helsinki Metropolitan area, home of some great tech companies and Aalto University.
  • HUS Helsinki University Hospital. Among the five largest hospitals in Europe, provider of world-class specialized healthcare.
  • University of Helsinki. Founded in 1640, home of science faculties, including medical, life sciences, pharmaceutical and agriculture.
  • Aalto University. The leading Finnish technical, commercial and design universities united.
  • Three Universities of Applied Sciences: Metropolia, Haaga-Helia and Laurea. Active in many fields, for instance educating many of the Finnish nurses. Metropolia hosts the largest-scale simulation hospital in the world.

Who are the top 3 champions from your Ecosystem?

  • Health Incubator Helsinki: Long-term (3 years) incubator program and home for 29 science-based health tech and medtech startups.
  • CleverHealth Network: Where real-life clinical challenges are solved in cooperation between companies and the HUS Hospital, using data from HUS’ unique data lake.
  • Fingenious: Network of seven key Finnish biobanks.
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What EU funding/collaboration are you involved with, or you would like to be part of?

Health Capital Helsinki is not an active member of any EU funded consortia, but we are partnering with and supporting some. We can bring in connections and networks, especially supporting public and private partnerships.

What are the key priorities and themes for your ecosystem?

  • We support innovations and emerging business. We make matches, especially with investors, organize events and give visibility to our startups. We prefer to do this face-to-face, but we have been able to function surprisingly well virtually, also during the pandemic.
  • We develop the ecosystem by bringing relevant parties together. We participate in development work, for instance test beds, and help develop services for startups. We also enable the sharing of best practices between organizations.
  • We attract investment in cooperation with our mother organization, Helsinki Partners. We help international corporations and investors enter our ecosystem by finding valuable opportunities and partnerships.

What is your primary strength as an ecosystem?

Finland has world-class public healthcare that functions according to standardized clinical guidelines. Since the 50’s, this system has produced tons of health data that enables research. The access to those data is through Findata, the Finnish social and health data permit authority. There are also local companies, such as BC Platforms, Veil.AI or Medisapiens, that can be of assistance for companies that want to navigate the data field.

Our second strength are engineers! We have a lot of them, and one big reason is Nokia. The fall of the cell phone giant in the late 90’s created a crisis for unemployed yet creative tech geeks who wanted a job with a meaning. What could be a better choice than designing life-saving products? They did just that, and the number of medtech startups peaked in the Helsinki Metropolitan in the following years. Furthermore, local universities have a long history of cooperation that has led to medical success stories. The best-known example is Datex-Ohmeda, which became the leading manufacturer of anesthesia and intensive care monitors in the 90’s and was later acquired by GE Healthcare. Today, GE Healthcare is well established in the city, with their R&D and production units.

To sum up, we have a long legacy of high-level healthcare, world-class health data and a problem-solving mindset with savvy engineers in an ecosystem that fosters innovation.

Who are your clinical champions either hospitals, clinicians, specialities

Our clinical champions are the service providers in the cities and at HUS. During the past two years, they’ve been able to pull through some really tough times. This has led to delays in the availability of care at times, but overall the quality of care has not been compromised. 

Like in many places around the world, the pandemic has ignited the growth of digital and remote services. As an example of a novel digital platform and the care paths that it enables, check BeeHealthy and their solutions. As another example, the City of Helsinki has taken into use VideoVisit, another young company that has been able to ride the tide of the changing healthcare market. Their solution enables remote consultations in a way that has convinced many customers but also Main Capital Partners, a Dutch software investment company that just announced the acquisition of VideoVisit. Health Village of HUS hospital has also been busy building digital services to cope with covid, but they also have other stuff cooking.

So, our heroes are public and private service providers who have been able to think outside of the box and develop novel services in the challenging situation.

What comes to university research, we like to mention cancer-related research and the ecosystem that has grown around it. iCAN is a unique initiative, where pharma companies can cooperate with cutting-edge research in the field of digital precision cancer medicine.

For more details about the ecosystem or potential collaborations, please contact Health Capital Helsinki Director Juha Paakkola, juha.paakkola@healthcapitalhelsinki.fi.

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