Finland is definitely the current hotspot for companies developing smart healthcare technology solutions. The fresh announcement from GE Healthcare to invest 28.5 million Euros to Finland was followed this week by the news of Samsung partnering with a new national health technology Startup Accelerator. The Helsinki region with its broad life science and ICT knowhow and outstanding funding opportunities is becoming a leading digital health hub.
The American healthcare giant GE Healthcare announced on the 30th of January that it would create a hub for the development of medical data transfer technology – wireless and mobile patient monitoring systems – in Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. The company will also recruit 50 software developers.
“Healthcare technology is swiftly developing into one of Finland’s most important high-tech fields, and the field’s growth prospects are excellent. The choice by GE Healthcare, a large international enterprise, to situate its expertise hub for digital healthcare in Finland is proof of this. The investment will improve our status as a global pioneer of digital healthcare,” said Minister of Social Affairs and Health Laura Räty in a press release issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
Only three days later, the Finnish healthcare technology boom was breaking news again: Samsung Electronics, one of the biggest global manufacturers of consumer electronics, had partnered up with a new Vertical Startup Accelerator based in Espoo Innovation Garden and focusing on health technology. Several international partnerships will follow.
“For Samsung, the co-operation with Nordic technology companies has already produced significant results. With the help of this new partnership, we will be able to look for opportunities systematically together with Samsung Electronics’ R&D Center in Espoo. Firstbeat’s innovation for measuring the heart beat is an example of technology that Samsung Electronics has licensed from Finland and launched on a global scale by implementing it into the intelligent wearables, smartphones, and tablets”, Marko Nurmela, Vice President at Samsung Electronics Nordic, said in a press release issued by Samsung and Vertical Enterprise Accelerator.
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Why is it precisely the Greater Helsinki Area that attracts globally successful corporations such as Samsung and GE Healthcare?
High skill-sets in mobile, software, and life science knowhow, and close collaboration between companies, universities, research institutes, and authorities alike are some of the most obvious answers. For instance, the the cities of Helsinki region are happy to open their health care systems and processes so that the startups within health technology will be able to test their products on the real market. One can also speculate whether the clean food and healthy lifestyle trends inspire the innovative minds in Helsinki.
Moreover, the national Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation Activities, published last spring in Finland, is another key to speeding up business. The strategy aims for systematic development of the sector’s conditions, as well as at increasing investments in the health sector and stimulating the field’s economic growth.
A nice example of the funding possibilities is the Bits of Health programme, initiated recently by the Finnish Government’s innovation funding agency Tekes. In the case of GE Healthcare, Tekes fueled the GE research program with a significant funding of 10 million Euros.
“As the leading university and central hospital structure Helsinki City is welcoming new businesses within the health technology sector. We would like to see the Helsinki area as a crossroads for health technology actors, a place where global actors meet innovative startups with an open mind. Together they will create technology and products that revolutionise the way people take care of their health and wellbeing around the globe,” Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development at Helsinki City, says.
Text: Laura Tahkokallio