Which are the best startups for inventing the healthcare of tomorrow? The Smart Health committee faced a sizeable challenge on 30 March, when it was tasked with identifying projects with strong potential among the 128 applications.
With immediate favourites, queries and razor-sharp arguments, discussions were lively.
We should also note that the 128 projects, compared to last year’s 80, represented a significant increase in the number of submissions. This year, projects have grown in quality and sophistication: “Health startups are currently experiencing growth in maturity and professionalism,” said Céline Sportisse, Digital & Healthcare Consultant and Co-organiser of the Health Digital Club Think Tank. "We are also seeing greater medical skill within the teams than we did before. The project leaders were fully aware that innovation alone isn’t enough, and they are taking on board the importance of familiarising themselves with both the regulatory framework and the different (and numerous) health players."
Project leaders must take into account the expectations, needs and constraints of each health player.
Céline Sportisse, Digital & Healthcare Consultant
AI, chatbots and gamification
From health capital, streamlining care pathways and ensuring homecare services for patients to environmental concerns and air quality, startups are occupying all areas in a sector that is no longer confined within hospital walls. Rather, it is becoming part of the workplace (with stress and burn-out prevention) and even living environments, namely when it comes to offering patients greater independence and control of their health. Among the applications, we saw many platforms for coordination between healthcare professionals and patients, or for linking care between hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. They are all tools that would help streamline care pathways, which can sometimes be slow and complex.
In terms of the technology submitted, while AI and chatbots may be key trends in this fourth edition, virtual reality also offers many extremely relevant use scenarios for fields like patient rehabilitation or even training. Blockchains, on the other hand, were very few and far between in the projects, despite data confidentiality issues in the sector.
It was no easy task for the members of the committee to choose from among such a wide range of possibles.
Emphasis on practicality
In order to make their selection, priority was given to startups that offer a practical solution without being too idealistic, taking into account the regulatory aspect. Here to tell us all about it is Corinne Marsolier, Director, Consulting and member of the Angels Santé network – the leading network of business angels specialising in healthcare in Europe.
"em>When I have to assess an innovation project, in addition to stability and team synergy, I pay particular attention to the value proposition and the impact it might have on the market. What sets it apart from the rest? Is the economic model viable and might it include or create a break in the market? Has the business model been tested? These are all questions that help consider large-scale and international distribution of the service, to look fast and far ahead."/p>
It being Angels Santé’s second year running as an EDF Pulse Awards partner, this is not Corinne’s first time on the selection committee, and she continues to be captivated by the energy shown by the startup applicants.
For Céline Sportisse, a coach in the category, "demonstrating a joint creation approach" with the many players from the health market is also among the essential selection criteria. "« "Project leaders must take into account the expectations, needs and constraints of each health player, even if they do not tick all the boxes. The economic viability of their project depends on it. In healthcare, the end users are not always those paying or those prescribing, but they all need to be convinced that they can trust us. It is also absolutely key to standing out from the competition"
Lastly, there is one more major challenge that startups in the Smart Health category must consider: their ability to cope with the legal and ethical responsibility involved. Practices take longer to be popularised because the reliability of the service must be proven and the possible risks and errors need to be assessed.
When starting out, you have to believe in your project 2,000%. Daring is also a very important attribute if you want to get ahead of the competition
Corinne Marsolier, Director, Consulting and member of the Angels Santé network
Selecting fifteen startups for the next stage
No matter the stability of the projects, boldness from the entrepreneurs is crucial.
“When starting out, you have to believe in your project 2,000%. Daring is also a very important attribute if you want to get ahead of the competition. The steps are long and, beyond having a great idea, you have to find partners so you can get started, form the idea around a project, be able to present it in a way that gets people’s attention and gets the word out about the project, and seek funding, all the while maintaining an unerring vision for the long term,” Corinne noted, having examined more than 300 submissions from innovative startups coming out of international incubators in the past 12 months.
Considerable challenges lie in the road ahead for these young entrepreneurs, and the selection process for the EDF Pulse Awards is all the more demanding.
While fifteen Smart Health startups appear ready to take them head-on, and have already met with approval from the experts following this initial phase of analysis and discussion as a committee, only the very best will be able to claim the title of finalist and continue on the adventure.
See you all in early May to find out who they are!