Engaged ecosystems that enable discussions and collaboration across industries and disciplines are critical for HealthTech startups to thrive. This was one of the key takeaways on which the HealthTech CEOs and panelists from Singapore, Grace Park (DocDoc), Serene Cai (Speedoc), as well as from Switzerland, Girisha Fernando (Lyfegen) and Ulrich Muehlner (docdok.health), all agreed upon. The panel was hosted and moderated by Julien de Salaberry, CEO and Founder of Galen Growth, the global leader in digital health intelligence, analytics and matchmaking in collaboration with DayOne, an initiative of Basel Area Business & Innovation, and revealed insights on how digital health ventures in both ecosystems are faring in times of pandemic.
Galen Growth used their market insights to compare the digital health ecosystem of Switzerland and Singapore. Both countries are remarkably similar in number of ventures, annual growth and cumulative funding raised in the last couple of years. The panelists also raised another key factor that make Switzerland and Singapore a top choice for companies and investors alike: a strong focus on data protection and privacy. This establishes Singapore in particular as center of gravity in the Asia Pacific region.
Whereas three digital health categories top the list in both countries: wellness, patient solutions and medical diagnostics, the next runner up in Singapore is health management solutions and in Switzerland it is research. The latter is a consequence of Switzerland’s strength in the pharmaceutical industry. With its industry heavyweights, this gives the Basel Area the potential to become a life sciences and healthcare hub outpacing even Boston or the Silicon Valley, as Ulrich Muehlner mentioned.
All panelists also agreed that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption digital health solutions. A mindset shift with regulators and payors was one key ingredient of a 5x-20x uptick in activity for certain digital health categories. As cost pressure increases, the pressing question is what value is actually delivered by our healthcare systems. This has established a trend to not only focus on therapeutic innovation but healthcare system innovation, as Girisha Fernando explained.
Access to funding is naturally important to accelerate new ventures. But an interesting point was made by all panelists that even more critical than cash are partnerships. Solve a problem for big traditional stakeholders and organisations and move away from innovation theatrics to co-creating value for the end user. Startups are able to move fast and agile and need to leverage the roll-out and scale up capabilities of established players. Grace Park also noted, that it is of critical importance for long term success, to spend time with partners to clearly define what success looks like for everyone.
Such partnerships naturally emerge in vibrant and engaged ecosystems. Serene Cai pointedly noted that a variety and diversity of organisations and corporations are key ingredients to grow globally successful ventures.
Douglas Häggström from the DayOne team of Basel Area Business & Innovation did provide an important observation that Covid-19 quickly boosted tactical changes needed and it will be interesting to see if we can take this momentum and opportunity this crisis provides to also drive a change in mindset and attitude to enable us to solve our long term challenges.
Clearly, Covid-19 accelerated digital health ventures in various categories and being located in a vibrant ecosystem like Singapore or the Basel Area in Switzerland is critical for their success, but the jury is still out if we can leverage the current pandemic for long term sustainable solution. As Churchill famously said: “never let a good crisis go to waste”.
Click here to view a recording of the webinar.