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International HealthTech Ecosystem Mapping

International HealthTech Ecosystem Mapping Your partners to take your healthtech startup to the next level

Those past two years have brought their dose of pain and uncertainty globally but in the healthtech sector, it also brought some positive sides: many people got to try digital health tools, oftentimes forced by the pandemia – and lots of them ended up adopting those solutions; investment in health and innovation skyrocketed and regulatory bodies started embracing healthtech more. Have we finally reached the golden age of digital health? Will digital health finally be called health?

Healthinnov and Digital Health Connector, international digital health consultants, have been collaborating with Xartec Salut, a catalyst for R+D+I in the healthtech industry based in Barcelona, to design a map of the main players in the European Healthtech ecosystem. (A map dedicated to Catalonia Healthtech ecosystem is also available here). That map is mainly aimed at early stage companies from the healthcare sector and spin-offs coming from tech transfer centers looking at launching their solutions on the market and scaling them up.

International Healthtech Ecosystem Mapping

International HealthTech Ecosystem Mapping

Why this map?

We know that the winning equation is the one that reinforces synergies between all categories of actors. What we have found these past years, working with many digital health startups and entrepreneurs is that they care about collaborating with partners who have experience or at least understand the healthcare sector. With this non-exhaustive map, we wanted to identify those leading companies and organizations, update and enhance the ecosystem knowledge but also give actors a chance to establish relevant connections.  

Focus of the map

We organized the map in different categories keeping in mind that the target audience would be healthtech companies in pre-seed to series A stages:

> Investors: main funding sources available for early stage healthtech companies – venture capitals, equity platforms, business angels, public/local grants and corporate ventures.

> Business support: accelerator/incubator programs, consulting companies supporting in different areas such as growth, legal, regulatory and marketing, government agencies, health hubs and venture builders.

> R&D: hospitals with renowned innovation centers, research and tech centers and universities.

> Startups: selection of startups active in Europe integrating the most relevant technologies in healthcare: AI, AR/VR/MR, big data and analytics, blockchain, IoT & wearables, robotics, serious games and 3D (bio)printing and focused on the following areas: health & wellness, education and training, urgent care, clinical decision support, R&D, clinical trials, diagnostics, disease management and health monetization. 

More than 300 actors are represented on this map out of 500+ identified and highly qualified across Europe and beyond.

NB: The actors based in Catalonia but doing business at the international level, especially investors and startups, are listed on the Catalonia Healthtech map.

Purpose of the map

Why is it so important to collaborate with partners that have experience in the healthcare sector?

Healthcare is a specific and very regulated sector. Patients and their data are at the core of most of what is happening in the healthcare sector, requiring extra layers of security and regulation. If you can collaborate with someone who understands the sector, is familiar with its regulation and understands the different actors involved – patients, healthcare professionals, care teams, etc the higher your chances of reaching the market not only faster but also more successfully.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the different categories we defined:

  1. Investors

There are several sources of funding available for startups and entrepreneurs based on the stage of the company and the amount of money you are trying to raise. 


Source: Extract from the International HealthTech Ecosystem database

Nonetheless, entrepreneurs are looking more and more at smart money. They don’t want just someone that will pour money into their business, but someone who will be a partner, bringing their expertise, experience and network to help them grow and scale up. 

That’s exactly the value that healthcare-focused investors, business angels or crowdfunding platforms can bring. Capital cell for instance is a crowdfunding platform dedicated to health and life sciences. Very successful, they have an important database of potential backers they reach out to when launching a new campaign and many of them are coming from the sector already so they can support the founders with their knowledge and network. 

When it comes to investment in health innovation, 2021 was a record year with $44b invested compared to $22b in 2020. We saw the creation of brand new investment funds dedicated to healthtech, the opening of new funds dedicated to healthtech inside general funds like Octopus Ventures or new funds inside healthtech funds like MTIP or nina capital who both closed their 2nd fund as well as more and more general funds that dedicated a higher percentage of their fund to investments in healthtech like Softbank who recently invested in Big Health.

Healthtech rising in popularity these past two years, more and more public grants are also being released to support the development of health related solutions, coming either from the EU or from national or local funds supporting entrepreneurs. We mentioned a few on the map like Enisa in Spain or British Business Bank in the UK but it’s worth investigating in your region if such grants are available since they are usually equity free. 

  1. Business support 

That section includes many different actors that could support you every step of the journey based on your needs.

Business support

Source: Extract from the International HealthTech Ecosystem database

Accelerators, incubators or venture builders are a good way to take your solution to the next level thanks to the mentoring you receive from various experts. Some are backed by pharma companies like Open Accelerator, others are supported by government institutions like Vision Health Pioneers and some are focused on specific verticals like Femtech Lab. Those programs are a great way to build your network, get more visibility and it serves as a door opener especially with investors or potential customers.

Legal and regulatory are key in healthcare so it’s important to be surrounded by the right people to support you with MDR, FDA, GDPR, data protection, etc. It’s important to get in touch with those consultants early on to make sure your solution is compliant from the beginning. 

Growth and marketing consultants can help you understand your customers better and establish the best strategy to reach and win them, in the early stages or later on when scaling up to new markets. They can support you with defining or optimizing your business model, designing your marketing and social media strategy or even take care of your public relationships. There is a good sample on the map but it’s important to define your needs correctly in order to find the right partner. Make sure that there is a good match with that consulting company, that they understand what you want and have the right connections to support you.

Hubs are also an important actor. There are more and more hubs dedicated to healthcare, as stated in this article. The format and services vary from hub to hub but the common point is that they build communities by bringing the different actors of the ecosystem together. This is a great added value for you because you benefit from that network, can find the right partners more easily and you also get visibility in front of the whole healthcare ecosystem. Some hubs have physical offices where you can work from, others like Matter, one of the pioneer health hubs based in Chicago, even have a living lab and a workshop to test and work on your solution. 

  1. R&D

That section gives an overview of the main research and development institutions in the healthtech ecosystem.


Source: Extract from the International HealthTech Ecosystem database

Universities are an important piece of the ecosystem, maybe undervalued sometimes. 

All major universities (Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Oxford University in the UK or Charité University in Germany) as well as major hospitals (San Raffaele Hospital in Italy or Necker hospital in France) have their technology transfer department or unit supporting researchers and promoting their research outcomes all over the world.

Hospitals are usually specialized in specific diseases or areas: Radboud MC in the Netherlands are focusing on patient care for instance while others are looking at integrating innovative tools within the hospital, like Sheba hospital in Israel, a fully VR-based hospital. Some hospitals also have an innovation center attached to a hospital like San Carlos hospital in Madrid, through which they incubate projects or take part in EU projects. This is a great entry point for startups that want to test their solution or collaborate with a hospital.

Other research and technology centers can be linked to a university or hospital or stand alone. They are good places to go if you need support to develop your technological solution, strengthen your innovative capabilities or support you with research. 

Universities are also a good place for you to find talent. Some institutions are collaborating with startups or investors for short periods of time to help them work on specific research projects, do market analysis or find the most suitable business model. That infusion of fresh ideas could turn into a full time position. At least it’s a good way to check candidates and see if they would be a good fit for your company.

  1. Startups

The map is showcasing a few examples of early stage healthtech startups from our database like symptom checker Infermedica or ophthalmology DTx company Tilak that both recently raised money, remote patient monitoring solution Aparito or pain release VR-based offering Oncomfort

It’s interesting to note that the healthtech sector has been consolidating these past years: we see more scaleups, more collaborations between startups and corporate companies, more solutions being adopted by healthcare institutions as well as by patients and citizens. No doubt that the frameworks being put in place by regulators, starting with DiGA in Germany and followed by other countries like Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Estonia, etc  is also helping to consolidate the ecosystem. 

Call to Action

Feel free to send a message if you want to receive a PDF version of the International map. If you would like to be included in the next edition of the map, you can fill that form. The next edition of the map will be produced in July 2022. We are welcoming new entries till 30th of June 2022.

*If you are based in Catalonia, please make sure you are not already included in the Catalonia map before filling the form.

> If you are a startup or entrepreneur and need help with fundraising, market analysis, strategy, marketing, business model, communication or getting in touch with specific actors of the ecosystem, send us a message, we will be very happy to help you. 

> If you are a corporate company and need help with your digital transformation and collaboration with startups or an investor looking for new companies to invest in, get in touch.

Authors: Sylvie Donnasson & Aline Noizet

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