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The 19 hottest Nordic digital health startups - disrupting healthcare with cutting-edge tech

Kry, Next Step Dynamics, Doctrin (collage)
Out to improve healthcare through mobile, AI and other technologies, digital health startups make up one of the hottest investment categories in Nordic tech.
  • Digital health is about to completely change how we receive healthcare.

  • Here are 19 hot Nordic startups building the future of digital health.

Digital health has emerged as one of the Nordics' fastest-growing tech categories.

The region’s biggest funds, including Inventure in Finland and Kinnevik in Sweden, are doubling down on digital health (or health tech), which, depending on classification, is now found among the region's 5 most well-funded tech categories.

While it spans everything from depression treatment to genetic coding to wearable tech, what unites ’digital health’ startups is a mission to improve physical or mental health of patients using novel methods and technologies, promising faster, cheaper, and more accurate care.

A smart product however, is only an entry ticket to play in a challenging health-tech space.

This according to Ekaterina Gianelli, a principal at Finnish VC fund Inventure, where she heads up investments into digital health startups. Gianelli lists the following opportunities and challenges in digital health:

  • Big potential in the Nordics: ”Overall, our health systems are very well digitalised and open, and there is a lot of data to play with.”

  • Challenge to scale: ”Nordic digital health companies have difficulty achieving considerable scale at home, and need to expand abroad fast.”

  • Digital health ecosystems have high barriers to entry: Most digital health products are made for consumers, while ”slow-moving” clinics and hospitals are the paying customers. ”Moreover, startups are required to stay abreast of fast-moving regulation that affects clinics.” (e.g. subsidies for telemedicine providers)

  • Runway problem: Many startups risk ”running out of money while transitioning from pilots to full roll-outs.”

  • Special requirements on founders: A founding team should have clinician(s) to provide skill and credibility. Also takes specialized skills to expand abroad.

  • The key: “Even to a bigger extent than in other industries: marketing and understanding the ecosystem where a digital-health company operates.”

Having consulted a handful of entrepreneurs and investors in the Nordic region, we arrived at 19 startups that we found especially interesting. (Sorry, Norway)

Admittedly, the lines between medtech, life science and digital health are blurred. We chose to focus on the latter category where big data or digital tech is at the core of a company's offering.

All located in the Nordics and founded in the past 5 years (with one exception), the listed startups have shown fast progress and seem poised for big things.

Most of all, they provide a window into the future of healthcare.

Video consultation app KRY is taking on Europe

Up to 90 percent of all hospital visits can be abolished through digital services, says KRY founder and CEO Johannes Schildt (pictured, left).

What it does: KRY is an app that lets doctors and patients meet over video. To date, more than 100,000 people in Sweden, Norway and Spain have consulted the 300 doctors currently providing care on KRY's platform.

Why it's hot: Backed by Accel Partners, Index Ventures and Creandum, the startup is poised to become a leader in European ”telemedicine” as the industry's first company with CE approval. KRY grew revenues six-fold last year, to 100 million Swedish kronor ($11 m).

HQ: Stockholm, Sweden

Founded: 2014.

Raised: €79,1 million (through Series B).

Read More: How a 29-year old former hypochondriac built Sweden's most successful medtech startup

Min Doktor simplifies contact between patients and doctors

Having spread quickly among hospitals and clinics in Sweden, Min Doktor wants to become a leading primary care platform in Europe.

What it does: Via Min Doktor patients can interact with a doctor or physician 24/7 through a chat service from any device.

Why it’s hot: Min Doktor is Sweden’s first and biggest digital healthcare provider, and has the backing of renown venture-capital fund EQT Ventures. In 2016, it had double the turnover of its biggest competitor, Kry.

HQ: Lund, Sweden

Founded: 2013

Raised: $39 million (through Series B)

Meru Health helps treat depression and burnout remotely

Meru Health, one of few Finnish startups that participated in Y Combinator.

What it does: Meru offers an online clinic that helps treat burnout and depression. Worldwide, more than 300 million people suffer from the latter.

Why it’s hot: Prominent Finnish funds LifeLine Ventures and Reaktor Ventures have invested in Meru Health, which recently participated in the renown Y Combinator accelerator in California. The startup has a dozen health clinic customers in Finland and the US.

HQ: Palo Alto and Helsinki, Finland

Founded: 2015

Raised: $330.000

Khosla-backed Flow Neuroscience provides an alternative to antidepressants

What it does: Flow has developed a headset coupled with an app to treat physical and behavioural elements of depressions in the individual’s own home. The startup's headset sends a weak electric signal - called tDCS, or transcranial direct current stimulation - through a patient’s brain.

Why it’s hot: Flow is supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation Hax, and Khosla Ventures among others.

HQ: Malmö, Sweden

Founded: 2016

Raised: $1,1 million

Read More: A Swedish startup wants to end the use of antidepressants with a head-mounted wearable

Platoscience has built a brain-boosting device

The PlatoWork headset has two modes, 'Focus' and 'Create.' PlatoScience

What it does: The startup's headset, called Platowork, uses "brain zapping" (or tDCS), creating a mild electrical field that boosts your nerve cells' ability to send their signals. Using the headset 15 minutes before a task should make you more creative and productive worker for an hour's time.

Why it’s hot: While many may find "brain zapping" a bit out there, the method has made plenty of progress in recent years. Platoscience a big adressable market that extends beyond knowledge workers to people suffering from depression. (See Flow Neuroscience)

HQ: Copenhagen

Founded: 2015

Raised: $500,000

Read More: This Danish brain boosting device is supposed to make you a more creative and focused worker

Corti uses AI and speech recognition to predict cardiac arrests over the phone

Corti's AI acts as a digital assistant for dispatchers taking emergency calls.

What it does: Corti has developed an AI to help detect cardiac arrest cases faster and more accurately in real time when individuals call the official emergency number.

Why it’s hot: Corti is being rolled out across Europe and also expanding in the US. It's backed by Sunstone, ByFounders and Danny Lange, a renown AI guru who has developed applications for Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

HQ: Copenhagen, Denmark

Founded: 2014

Raised: Undisclosed

Neurescue uses tech to reduce deaths from cardiac arrest

At the age of 23, Habib Frost, Neurescue founder, became the youngest Medical Doctor ever in Denmark.

What it does: Neurescue provides a computer-controlled balloon catheter that helps treat both cardiac arrest and critical bleedings.

Why it’s hot: The startup was founded by Habib Frost, a medical doctor and an alumnus of Singularity University. His device could help fight the leading killer on the planet, cardiac arrest, which claims 7 to 10 million lives per yer.

HQ: Copenhagen, Denmark

Founded: 2014

Raised: DKK 26 million ($4 million)

Read More: This guy became Denmark's youngest doctor ever, and now h​e'​s using tech to take on the number ​one ​cause of death

Award-winning 1928Diagnostics helps fight antibiotic resistance

The founding duo of 1928 Diagnostics, Dr. Kristina Lagerstedt and Dr. Susanne Staaf.

What it does: 1928diagnostics offers a diagnostic SaaS tool for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. It analyzes a bacteria's genetic code in just a few minutes, helping doctors pick an antibiotic treatment individualized for each patient.

Why it’s hot: The company was recently chosen among 61 tech pioneers in 2018 by the World Economic Forum.

HQ: Gothenburg, Sweden

Founded: 2014

Raised: €4 million ($4,7 m)

Read More: A Swedish company that tries to solve one of the biggest threats facing global health was just chosen among 61 global ‘tech pioneers’

Doctrin lets healthcare providers digitize their ’patient journey’

What it does: Doctrin provides digital-decision support systems and communication tools to healthcare providers. Backed by the likes of Healthcap and Norrsken Foundation, the startup wants to boost the quality of care while shortening waiting times.

Why it’s hot: Through a partnership with Capio, Doctrin has accessed 83 health clinics with a total of 750.000 registered patients in Sweden. It recently also inked a deal with Nordic health care giant GHP.

HQ: Stockholm, Sweden

Founded: 2016

Raised: $18,5 million

Shim's app helps you cheer up

What it does: Shim is a chatbot that encourages users to reflect on positive things in life, or to air things what worry them. The bot continuously learns more about how its subject thinks and feels, in order to create meaningful conversations.

Why it’s hot: The startup tackles an emerging epidemic. Led by recognized Swedish psychologist Hoa Ly, an ambassador of 'Time Well Spent', the startup has attracted investment from King's co-founders as well as Atomico investor Sophia Bendz.

HQ: Stockholm

Founded: 2015

Raised: 7 million SEK ($800k)

Read More: A Swedish psychologist who created a popular mental health app shares 3 tricks to reducing social media addiction

SidekickHealth uses nudging to keep employees healthy and fit

What it does: A gamified health service for healthcare providers and employers. Sidekick's app helps users manage their health through behavioural economics, AI and evidence-based guidelines to reduce risk factors for chronic disease.

Why it’s hot: The startup has collaborated with Harvard and MIT brain researchers to create an program showing substantially better results than offline alternatives: SidekickHealth users were 3x more likely to reach their five percent weight loss goals in 16 weeks.

HQ: Palo Alto and Reykjavik

Founded: 2013

Raised: $3,8 million

Joint Academy: a digital clinic for people suffering from osteoarthritis

What it does: A digital clinic that provides treatment and education for people suffering from hip and knee osteoarthritis; a disease affecting more than half a billion people worldwide.

Why it’s hot: The startup, mainly eyeing the US market, hopes its treatment will provide an alternative to operations and medication. Backers include prominent Swedish angel investors Mårten Öbrink, Sophia Bendz and Hampus Jakobsson.

HQ: Malmö, Sweden

Founded: 2014

Raised: $5,5 million

Natural Cycles, the first app in the world to get approved as a 'digital contraceptive'

Elina Berglund. Natural Cycles co-founder and CTO. Natural Cycles

What it does: Natural Cycles is a contraceptive app that relies on an algorithm to predict on which days women are fertile during their monthly cycle. The company says its measurements are accurate 93 percent of the time.

Why it’s hot: Despite a controversial investigation following reports of 37 unwanted pregnancies, Natural Cycles spearheads the digital contraception space. Backed by EQT Ventures, the startup says it has more than 600,000 users worldwide.

HQ: Stockholm

Founded: 2013

Raised: $37,5 million

Read More: Swedish birth-control app Natural Cycles just raised €25 million to take on the US

Noona Healthcare improves cancer treatment through data and telemedicine

Proactive and digitally-enhanced treatment can improve survival rates among cancer patients, Noona hopes.

What it does: A cloud-based oncology platform that connects cancer clinics with their patients, helping patients receive faster and more accurate treatments. Noona also provides pharma companies with its patient-reported feedback data on novel cancer treatments.

Why it’s hot: Noona's predictive software can potentially help cancer centers identify symptoms earlier and improve patient outcomes. Main partners are Stanford Medicine and Helsinki University's Cancer Center. Inventure is an investor.

HQ: Helsinki, Finland

Founded: 2014

Raised: €1,5 million

Next Step Dynamics protects elderly people from falls using a smart watch

Nexs Step Dynamics aims to reduce falls in Sweden by 70 percent by 2020. Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths globally.

What it does: A non-intrusive alert system for fall risk prevention and dementia. Next Step Dynamic's wearable provides real-time analysis of metrics like balance and sleep, which are shared with hospitals, home care or family members.

Why it’s hot: Medical devices supplier Arjo Global recently inked an exclusive distribution partnership with Next Step Dynamics, giving the startup access to millions of euros in funding. Nordic IT consultancy Tieto is also a partner of "NSD."

HQ: Malmö, Sweden

Founded: 2016

Raised: €500k

Monsenso provides self-treatment for mental health disorders

Monsenso's mobile self-monitoring tool is aimed at people suffering from mental health disorders.

What it does: Monsenso has developed an "m-Health" solution that helps prevent, detect and treat mental or behavioral disorders. The treatment largely relies on self-monitoring, which should help patients become more active in their own recovery.

Why it’s hot: Putting aside recent research that found Monsenso had little effect on treating bipolar depression and mania, the company is scaling globally having recently inked an exclusive partnership with global insurance giant Gen Re.

HQ: Copenhagen

Founded: 2013

Raised: €3 million (latest round)

Stanford spin-off Blueprint Genetics revolutionizes clinical genetic testing

Blueprint Genetic's proprietary, so called OS-Seq sequencing technology enables faster and cheaper mapping of genomes.

What it does: Based in Helsinki, San Francisco and Dubai, Blueprint Genetics offers AI-powered clinical genetic testing to patients. Before co-founding the company, Tero-Pekka Alastalo MD, PhD, was a postdoctoral reasearch fellow at Stanford University.

Why it's hot: Blueprint works with more than 450 hospital customers in over 40 countries. The company's proprietary "Os-Seq" technology is useful for diagnosing rare human diseases. Last year's Series A round was led by Creathor Ventures and Inventure.

HQ: Helsinki, Finland

Founded: 2012

Raised: $26,3 million

Nokia veterans founded Disior Health to change how doctors diagnose injury

Disior's software helps doctors model bone fractures and soft tissue.

What it does: Disior brings doctors a tool for analyzing medical images using advanced 3D-tech and data, saving time and enabling more accurate treatments. Founded by Nokia veterans who previously visualized mobile phones, Disior lets doctors see human bone and tissue (CT and MRI) in new ways.

Why it’s hot: Helsinki's University Hospital uses Disior with Hololens' AR-technology to provide 3D-simulations that help surgeons plan operations, speeding up the process considerably. The startup recently got backing from newly-formed seed fund Maki.VC.

HQ: Helsinki

Founded: 2016

Raised: €600k

Cellink pioneers the 3D-printing of tissues and organs

Erik Gatenholm, Cellink's 28-year old CEO.

What it does: Cellink is a 3D bioprinting company and the first in the world to use bioink. By printing human organs and tissue models, the company offers novel ways to conduct oncology research or drug and cosmetic testing.

Why it’s hot: Cellink successfully IPO’ed on Nasdaq First North in November 2016, just ten months after its founding. The company is expanding globally, with customers in 25 countries including Princeton and Wake Forest University in the US.

HQ: Gothenburg, Sweden

Founded: 2016

Raised: SEK 3,7 million before IPO