Again, many programme highlights feature start-ups

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As one of the world’s leading medical trade fairs, MEDICA in Düsseldorf is one of the most important platforms for start-up teams seeking to enter the healthcare industry and who are looking for investors, opportunities for cooperation and also first-time users of their product ideas. From November 14 to 17, 2022, for the duration of MEDICA, numerous programme highlights will again offer young entrepreneurs the perfect opportunity to present themselves to international experts from the healthcare sector: the 11th MEDICA Start-up COMPETITION, 14th Healthcare Innovation World Cup, the MEDICA START-UP PARK and a total of over 100 start-up exhibitions at the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM are just an example.

In addition, several hundred start-ups or scale-ups (which have entered the next phase of development) will participate as exhibitors at MEDICA 2022, either with joint stands or with a stand of their own. The current trend in registrations for exhibitors points towards a participation rate that exceeds that of the previous year (MEDICA 2021: 3033 participants) with a notable expansion in the booked floor capacity.

Young companies like Rapid Response Revival are responsible for this increase in booked floor capacity. In 2018, they participated for the first time, at the central meeting point for start-ups, MEDICA START-UP PARK. Since then, their business has grown exponentially. Thus, Rapid Response Revival is travelling from Australia to MEDICA this year, too, and will occupy one of the largest stands.

The team of developers has committed themselves and their product to meet a global challenge; sudden cardiac arrest. Every year, six million people worldwide die of this condition. This often happens at home, where no life-saving defibrillator is present in time.

Therefore, Rapid Response Revival developed “CellAED”, an inexpensive defibrillator for use by lay persons, and started marketing it. In 2019, the first prototype was exhibited at MEDICA: “We met many people who recognised our potential and wanted to be part of our endeavour in different parts of the world”, Luke Starr, Chief Communications Officer at Rapid Response Revival, remembers the promising start-up phase. Much has happened since then. “We will be presenting a matured product at MEDICA 2022”, says Starr, looking forward to the trade fair which will take place in mid-November.

As compact as a bar of chocolate, with huge potential

The new version of the defibrillator is no bigger than a bar of chocolate, connects to a network and shows that it is ready for action. “CellAED” helps first responders save lives until professional aid arrives. The device is intended for integration into various emergency alert systems, and according to Starr, could dramatically change first aid response globally. More than 70 countries have already issued a certification. The device has been approved for the market in the EEA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The device should remain affordable wherever it is sold: “The device costs around 240 Euro. A subscription of approximately ten Euros each month is also required for ongoing support, which for example includes access to diagnostic data”, says Starr. CellAED is one-tenth the price, size and weight of many of the other current systems on the market, which makes the defibrillator perfect for home use. “This device will change society’s reaction to sudden cardiac arrest in a fundamental way”, says Starr.

To this end, the upcoming participation in the trade fair is vital: “At MEDICA 2022 we will present both our development and the opportunities that it proffers to a professional audience”, says Starr, adding: “We want to sell millions of devices. We’re therefore cooperating with several manufacturers and are aiming to produce 200,000 devices each month by the end of 2023”. Starr thinks this is realistic:  “We have the capacity to meet this challenge, we meet the legal requirements and we have a team that can solve potential problems”. One important reason for their success up to now is attributed to the fact that, unlike larger competitors, this company concentrates on a single application. This experience is probably very similar to that of other start-ups which haven’t yet progressed as much as Rapid Response Revival has, and which nevertheless have chosen MEDICA as a suitable platform – for example, because of its competitions.

The 11th MEDICA Start-up COMPETITION has kicked off

The 11th MEDICA Start-up COMPETITION is seeking outstanding healthcare solutions from start-ups in the health app, laboratory diagnostics and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors in health care and robotics. The previous year, the winning team was ‘Phonolyser’ from Finland, with their eponymous product solution that offers intelligent analysis of cardiac sounds. The cardiac sound analyser combines artificial intelligence (processing and analysing signals), Doppler technology (ultrasound) and sound analysis to comprehensively assess and examine for the presence of congenital heart defects in children. The system aids in exact diagnosis. Bahman Doaeian, co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Phonolyser, says: “Particularly in the first weeks following our victory in Düsseldorf, we received a lot of attention from the media and from investors in Europe”. For Doaeian, MEDICA is one of the best platforms on which to introduce medical technology in the world. “Here, we meet exactly the target group we want to reach”, he says. Since last November, the “Phonolyser” has been developed further; specifically, sensitivity has been improved (goal: over 98 %) and the software has been optimised to make it easier for less experienced doctors to operate the device. Clinical studies have seen a lot of progress – for example, for testing a new algorithm. In this context, Doaeian sees the extensive legal requirements for in the European Union as a challenge that means that more support is needed for start-ups in particular.

Applications for the 11th MEDICA Start-up COMPETITION can be submitted up until September 21, 2022. The finals for the winning pitch will be held on the November 15 on the event stage at the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM. Information on the competition and registration is available online at: https://www.medica-tradefair.com/mac2.

The 14th Healthcare Innovation World Cup for “Internet of Medical Things” solutions

Start-ups, scale-ups and small and medium businesses are also free to submit their solutions for the “Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)” to the 14th Healthcare Innovation World Cup. The best 12 selected finalists will be invited to present their products – which can range from wearable technologies to digital biomarkers, intelligent plasters and smart implants – at MEDICA 2022. In 2021, the “eyemate” system by the Implandata Ophthalmic Products company won the finals in Düsseldorf. This is an intelligent, implantable and biocompatible micro sensor that provides telemedical care for glaucoma patients. Glaucoma patients experience elevated intraocular pressure can cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve and lead to blindness. Current methods only allow this to be measured at an ophthalmologist’s office. However, “eyemate” enables patients to continuously monitor themselves at home. Ophthalmologists can use telemedicine to monitor the data and, if necessary, intervene early on. The device gives patients a feeling of security, as they will be informed in time and can act before elevated intraocular pressure can damage their optical nerve. For Max Ostermeier, CEO & Founder of Implandata Ophthalmic Products, this is a form of patient empowerment, which also contributes to adherence to therapy: “This will completely transform glaucoma therapy”. Ostermeier also states that winning at the competition at MEDICA was a huge award and was important for motivation. He says the media response led to being invited to more presentations, which made it easier to win over investors.

Step by step towards international success

Nevertheless, the following still remains true for this start-up: “The dominant factor is still the cost”, says Ostermeier. The implant is currently being piggyback implanted in the eye during operations for glaucoma or cataracts, where it remains indefinitely. “We meet the exacting CE demands for permanent implants”, says Ostermeier. In the future, the implant should be able to be implanted via minimally invasive injection, without surgery, so that intraocular pressure can be monitored continually during the early stages of the disease. Ostermeier went on to state that the start-up works closely with ophthalmologists. In one or two years at the earliest, the company will strive for further internationalisation – outside German-speaking countries. The current focus: approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The application phase for participation in this year’s Healthcare Innovation World Cup ends on September 21, 2022. The pitches of the 12 finalists will also take place on the event stage at the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM (on November 14).

The MEDICA START-UP PARK (Hall 12, E53), which has established itself as a central venue for the creative founder scene, also prioritises networking. At least 40 start-ups have already announced that they will participate, most of them focusing on innovative digital healthcare solutions.

All information on MEDICA 2022 and the parts of the programme mentioned above is available online at: https://www.medica-tradefair.com.

Author: Dr Lutz Retzlaff, freelance medical journalist (Neuss)