You may have heard about it through the Berlin startup community. Something new that we’ve been working on and are super proud of… Let us introduce you to Vision Health Pioneers, our new startup incubator for healthtech innovators.
So Why “Healthtech”?
Well, healthcare is an enormous, yet inefficient, industry. We are convinced that applying existing, and yet to be developed technology solutions, will provide better care for patients across the globe. We want “healthcare” instead of “sick care”! Having worked with healthcare startups such as VoiceItt or Hanai, mentoring at Startupbootcamp, as well as supporting international activities at SXSW as part of FTR4H in the last 5 years – all of this has proved to us that young companies can create tremendous impact in healthcare.
We also can see that the digital health scene is vibrant and growing, especially here in Europe. According to CBInsights, European healthcare companies raised $2.88B in the third quarter, a 129% increase from Q2 2019. These numbers also confirm that healthtech is not just a desirable area with feasible products, but also a very viable sector that needs sustainable business models.
Why Healthtech in Berlin?
Vision Health Pioneers aims to support this growth by providing non-equity funding to early-stage idea and prototypes, and by strengthening the Healthtech ecosystem that connects and educates innovators in healthcare in Europe. Overall, Vision Health Pioneers will support up to 15 startups – 40 single entrepreneurs in total – in the coming 20 months. We will also engage 20+ partners, as part of the program. Our aim: to also highlight the fresh opportunities for healthcare startups, thanks to the introduction of the “Digital Care Act” in Germany and other exciting laws coming up in Europe in the future.
What does the Digital Care Act (DVG) mean for healthcare? Germany is finally opening up to more digital solutions in health. The German Parliament passed the “Digital Care Act” (DVG) in November 2019, clearing the way to let General Practitioners prescribe digital health applications to any publicly health-insured German citizen. This has greatly opened up new opportunities for healthcare innovators. So the future looks bright for healthcare: Apps on prescription? Easy use of online video consultations? Access to a secure healthcare data network for treatment everywhere? In the near future, these could, and we hope, will all be possible and legally supported.
Because this is what we are good at! Vision Health Pioneers is no small project, but thanks to our powerful network of healthcare experts – we have been able to take on such a large program.
For Vision Health Pioneers, we joined forces with Joscha Hofferbert, well-known from Hacking Health, as well as Dr. Maike Henningsen, a serial entrepreneur and healthcare innovation expert. We also activated our network, such as fellow mentors from Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin, the supporter of the SXSW HealthTech Innovation Day we curated in 2019 in Austin in collaboration with Berlin Partner. We also leveraged the existing partnerships with organisations, such as FTR4H/Medica, SXSW and also Barcelona Health Hub.
And at the end, we dared! With a small team and a young company, we applied for public funding that is usually granted to much larger organisations. We also dared to tackle a topic that only a few organisations have covered: Of the 26 organisations that applied for this specific funding – we were the only organisation addressing the complex healthcare sector. We are proud that with Vision Health Pioneers, the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Senate of Berlin have placed their trust in us as experts, providing the necessary funding to make Vision Health Pioneers happen. As the Management Partner, the Startup Colors team is providing the backbone of the 1.5 million project.
How Will the Program Work?
We build on team work and our execution power: The program is led by a trained team of medical and entrepreneurial experts, who will guide the entrepreneurs we support through the program. Thanks to the public funding by the Senate of Berlin and ESF, we can support the teams with basic living costs, allowing them to focus solely on their business for the duration of the program. In the 9-month program, the entrepreneurs are supported with:
- Training & coaching – Intense bootcamps, workshops, masterclasses and mentoring.
- Financial support – A stipend of €2,000 per month per team member — up to €72,000 per team.
- Local network – A community full of smart healthcare specialists, medical professionals and experienced entrepreneurs is available. Plus investors, tech enablers, as well as legal experts.
- Access to testing fields – Through the Vision Health Pioneers partners.
- Access to technology – Experts at Fraunhofer and DFKI will provide access.
- Free coworking – This includes access to a coworking space located in the heart of Berlin.
- International – Benefit from their international ecosystem in Europe, the USA and Asia.
- Active community – Thanks to the coworking space, there will be meetups, peer-to-peer breakfasts and more, as well as visits to conferences and external events.
Vision Health Pioneers takes no equity in the startups. This allows them to focus purely on achieving their goals, with no pressure from the incubator to “pay back” their investment.
How can you get involved?
Learn more about the program on the Vision Health Pioneers’ website. Or reach out to us at one of our upcoming healthcare events – this March at SXSW 2020 for a special session on Healthtech Jeopardy!