10 Vital Insights Into The Digital Health Incubator and Accelerator Scene in Europe
There is a growing digital health scene throughout Europe, and many other companies are jumping on board, offering their support. In addition to dedicated digital health incubators and accelerators, other types of organisations are providing learning and networking opportunities to European digital health, ehealth, smart health and telemedicine startups. While the British government recently announced its plan for London to become the “health-tech capital of Europe,” digital health incubators and accelerators are spread throughout the continent.
In this article, we take a look at some of the companies supporting today’s most innovative health tech entrepreneurs in Europe – traditional accelerators, accelerators that focus specifically on digital health, and companies offering alternative types of support to health tech startups.
Digital Health Incubator and Accelerator Programmes
Many incubators and accelerators support startups from a variety of industries. Lately, there has been an increase in the number of portfolio companies that specialize in digital health. Some of the main European accelerators that support health tech startups include The Accelerator, Hub:raum, and ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator.
The Accelerator, based in Greece, provides startups with funding, mentoring, and a network of investors over a period of five months. It accelerates Greek startup in a number of industries, including digital health, fashion, and energy. One portfolio company includes Genetium, which aims to become the quintessential tool and network for sharing medical knowledge.
Hub:raum has both incubator and accelerator programs, and is based in Berlin with programs in Krakow and Tel Aviv. The incubator provides startups with funding, mentoring, co-working, and infrastructure. Hub:raum supports startups in digital health as well as cyber security, e-commerce, and more. Health tech portfolio companies include BodyRecog, which measures and explains health biometrics, and OPTretina, which helps identify eye problems.
ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator, based in Berlin, offers a 3-month accelerator program that includes office space, coaching, networking opportunities, and funding. It supports startups in a variety of industries, including digital health, entertainment, and fin-tech. Portfolio companies include Media4Care, multimedia therapy and entertainment for people with cognitive dysfunctions, and Asanayoga, and online destination for yoga lifestyle.
Accelerators with Digital Health Focus
While many incubators and accelerators work in a variety of industries, an increasing number focus specifically on digital health. Three such companies include Healthbox, which is based in the US with offices in London, XLHealth, and Accelerace Life, both of which are based in the EU.
Healthbox is headquartered in Chicago, and has offices in a number of locations, including London. The company helps connect the established healthcare industry to innovative entrepreneurs in digital health. Healthbox Studios is the company’s accelerator, which helps “the most serious startups in healthcare to rapidly pressure test and validate their businesses to scale.” Portfolio companies include NurseGrid, which streamlines communication between nurses and managers, Voiceitt, which enables those with motor, speech, and language disorders to easily communicate, and Artaic Health, a pharmacy automation manufacturing company.
XLHealth is based in Berlin and invests in health tech startups. It also provides access to a network of peer entrepreneurs and industry experts, office space, and IT infrastructure. Portfolio companies include mySugr, which improves the lives of people with diabetes, NeuroNation, a platform for digital brain training, and OneLife, a mobile health companion that provides medical guidance and promotes healthy behavior.
Accelerace Life, a “cross-border” health tech accelerator, runs two programs, one based in the Baltic Nordic region, and one in Scandinavia. The company provides startups in life sciences with a coach, a network of digital health entrepreneurs, and a network of investors. Accelerace Life has accelerated more than 100 startups and spinoffs, which have received over €72 Million. Portfolio companies include Cognuse, a brain rehabilitation company, and LabToWellness, a lab data visualisation solution.
Additional Support in the Digital Health Scene
Many companies in the industry are veering away from the traditional incubate-then-accelerate startup growth model. With an estimated 115 health tech accelerators worldwide, industry experts suggest more isn’t necessarily better. Europe is leading the way in creating more flexible models of support; these companies provide alternative opportunities for learning and collaboration among health tech entrepreneurs. Some prime examples are Health Axis Europe, HealthXL, and Moebio.
Health Axis Europe has locations in Cambridge, UK, Leuven, Belgium, Heidelberg, Germany, and now Maastricht, Netherlands. The company is a “strategic alliance” between Venture Capitalists and biomedical Research and Development projects.
HealthXL is “a matchmaking community where major healthcare organisations, the most exciting and innovative startups and experts in digital health can communicate and collaborate with each other.” HealthXL’s partners, or “major healthcare organisations,” include IBM, Cleveland Clinic, and Novartis. The company was founded as an accelerator, but adjusted its model to focus on established companies with access to patients.
Based in Barcelona, Moebio accelerates future health innovators, rather than startups. It is an initiative of Biocat, an organization that coordinates and promotes health and life sciences in Catalonia. The accelerator accepts fellows for a 9-month program, and provides learning opportunities through both lectures and real-world practice.
While the US has been the primary hub of digital health startups, incubators and accelerators, the industry is quickly growing throughout Europe. There are an increasing number of companies in the digital health space that support startups, yet don’t quite fit in to the categories of “incubator” or “accelerator.” Over the past few years, industry observers have debated what the future of digital health will be in Europe. Varying greatly from the US health tech market in terms of regulations, investment capital, the culture of non-commercial healthcare, and the fragmented market (as a result of having 27 member states), it remains to be seen how the digital health industry will look – but it’s certainly exciting to watch!
This article is part of a series of blog posts in which we take a closer look at the ever-expanding startup ecosystem for digital health entrepreneurs – in Europe and the United States of America. If you would like to read on, we recommend:
- Digital Health Hubs in the United States (Link)
- The Incubator and Accelerator Ecosystem in the USA (Link)
- Things Digital Health Startups Need to Know (Link)
- 10 of the Most Important Digital Health Incubators in Europe (Link)
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She has a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and is passionate about entrepreneurship and health.