Digital health hub: building the innovation ecosystem

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We all know about the digital trend, however, is there a healthy digital hub that allows each city or region to grow exponentially and become more and more innovative in a healthy and balanced manner? In this article we will cover the main areas of a healthy digital hub and more precisely we will look at the digital health hub, answering the question of what are the top digital health hubs in the world.

A healthy digital hub is normally made out of different factors that have an impact on the whole ecosystem, for example:

  • Incubators; in order to start in the right way, startups need somebody willing to take care of them throughout the first weeks. Probably these are some of the most important ones, since here is when the first idea starts to develop itself into a viable one. Usually this help is given by another one providing management training or simply space (office).

  • Governments; the governments have the task to write or create rules, benefits, certain type of strategies that help the community to grow healthy and can support itself and attracting investors who see an opportunity in the ecosystem.

  • Investors; those who by capital, resources or networking help different companies to grow.

  • Industry association; organisation of companies and employees supporting, in this case, the high technology industry and protects their rights.

  • Large companies; the ones who sustain the economy and give the startups time to grow and establish themselves. They have the function of attracting big investors from the outside. It is a good tool for the startups to do networking and stretch their connections around the market.

  • Start-ups; of course the principal character of the story. The motor of the Hubs in the ecosystems.

Healthy digital hubs create a cooperation between companies and those previously mentioned players in order to boost innovation, connecting them and exchanging knowledge and expertise.

Each and every one of them is different. There are those hubs specialized in software development, sport, education, food… The variety relays on the number of companies aimed to tackle one certain aspect and the help that the public institutions give to the organizations, accelerations, incubators or investors.

In Spain, there are a total of more than 3.000 startups, of which around 10% are specialised in the sanitary industry, which are mainly based in the two main cities of Spain which are Madrid and Barcelona. They all together compose  the main Spanish digital health hub.

Peeking now more into the Barcelona innovation ecosystem, we can proudly say that it is one of the best ones in Europe. 

Barcelona is a city that attracts more investors than Italy and Russia. 

Nowadays, Barcelona experiences rapidly changing and exciting digital health ecosystem. I would even say that Barcelona put itself on a map not only as a startups hub, but as a health hub as well, where different institutions, startups, accelerators and public organizations aim to improve the quality of health.

Barcelona and Catalonia are renowned for its powerful life sciences research and the quality of the healthcare system. The country has produced world-leading scientists in the fields of cancer, HIV and other diseases. – Barcinno

According to Biocat, Barcelona is among the top five European digital health hubs:

  1. London – Scientific & Economic Capital
  2. Munich – Big Innovative Companies
  3. Barcelona – Biomedical & TIC
  4. Berlin – attractive for entrepreneurs
  5. Stockholm – allied health technologies

Barcelona started to implement new strategies to become one of the leading digital health hubs in the world and come up with innovations that will change the health industry in a better way.

For example,

Tecnocampus, a scientific park situated in the middle of a nearby city called Mataró started a new program aimed to accelerate startups in the health industry, called Kenko Health Accelerator.

The main objective of Kenko is to find innovative startups based on three specific topics; Digital Health, Medical Devices and Biotech. – La Vanguardia

Doing this the Catalan Institutions are hoping to get more attention from the international market and bigger investors into the digital health hub.

Also, Stanford University, La Caixa and Barcelona Activa have joined forces for a program called Moebio, focused on developing health entrepreneurs in Barcelona.

Moebio works on identifying medical needs and 1,400 unmet clinical needs identified already.

Furthermore, Moebio works with founders to create disruptive technology that looks to solve multiple needs, and then implementing a viable business model.

Oryzon Genomics, gained a capital of 18.2 million € thanks to the entry of Nexthera and Heights Capital.

GlyCardial, is a spinoff of the Catalan “Institut de Ciencies Cardiovasculars”, and they got a first round 2.4 million € coming from Caixa Capital Risc and HealthEquity.

DyCare, is a startup specialized in the development of tech solutions for the control and clinic assessment of pathologies that affect the musculoskeletal system. It had the help from Bayern in terms of offices and facilities with coworking and put at their disposition a specialized team in mentoring and coaching throughout the length of the contract (6 months). –

Moving out from Barcelona again and observing its competitors we name quite a few good health hubs founded in other European countries.

In Germany there is a venture capital investor specialized in the digital health called XLHealth. Using technology and innovation they are preserving and improving the culture between the startups that they incubate in order to dig deeper and stretch the possibilities that these companies have to improve the quality of the health in the population.

Healthbox is another accelerator program for health companies based in London called Healthbox Foundry and Studios. The second one gives guidance, exposure to smart capital and growth, whereas the first one aims to sell the products mostly to bigger companies.

Moving more towards wellness and health, the incubator from Finland, Vertical helps entrepreneurs to develop their first idea, shape it and launching it.

Hacking health is a slightly different concept. This is a social organization of innovators and experts who put effort to solve health issues through research the healthcare. The group is spread all around Europe and it offers a big variety of resources such as office spaces, experts… one of the most quoted in Europe.

Cambridge, London and Oxford is another very strong digital health hub. Their passion for technology and innovation makes them creating an ecosystem that is taking over the industry. Companies like: 11 health, Antidote, Cambridge Cognition or Px Healthcare are part of it.

So, as we’ve seen, Barcelona’s digital health hub scene is booming and it has the resources and the chance of becoming one of the principals if not the principal digital health hub in Europe and place itself as the reference for upcoming and growing ecosystems. It is up to the startups and and other key players to give that differentiator to the region and work together as a community to achieve bigger things.

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