An overview of the benefits that digital health applications and their paired medical technology are already providing will be offered by the leading international medical trade fair Medica with over 5,100 exhibitors from about 70 countries. The event will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany, from November 18 – 21, 2019. Start-ups will be given special attention. The number of start-ups at Medica has consistently increased over the past few years. Now, several hundred of these very young and mostly digitally driven companies come here to meet their international specialist audience and present their ideas and new innovations. A highlight will be the MEDICA DISRUPT pitches, to be held within the scope of the Medica Connected Healthcare Forum, and more particularly in the Medica Start-Up Park (both in Hall 13).
The Program at Medica Disrupt
At Medica Disrupt, exciting finals are on the program in the first two days of Medica, with each final involving 10 start-ups. On November 18, the 11th Innovation World Cup will look at healthcare solutions in the IoT (Internet of Things). The world’s best health app will be awarded at the 8th Medica App Competition on November 19.
There will also be a pioneering program at Medica Disrupt. Starting at 3:00 pm on November 18, the focus will be on body augmentation: the optimization of the human body using robotics, 3D printing, and intelligent implants. One participant will be the start-up Ebenbuild. Dr. Kei W. Müller (CEO) has been performing research for a project that aims to provide patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with individually tailored mechanical ventilation settings for their ventilators in order to improve their chances of survival and recovery. He has been working on this for twelve years. Up until now, ventilators could only be adjusted to patients in a very limited manner by inputting body parameters that tend to be imprecise (e.g. weight). Ebenbuild wants to change that with software that uses CT scanning and machine learning to produce a virtual patient-specific model of the lungs, thus creating a digital model (a digital twin). This enables automated, personalized and precise prediction of optimal ventilation for that patient.
A prototype for this is already available and will be tested over the next three years. Naturally, like most start-ups, Ebenbuild is looking for other development partners. Ultimately, they believe that software-based digital twins like this one will not only change the development processes for medicines and medical products but will also lay the groundwork for a new class of diagnostic and monitoring tools. A session titled “How Digital Twins will improve healthcare for their real-world counterparts” will be held in the Medica Health IT Forum (also in Hall 13) on the following day.
Start-Ups Working to Make Diagnostics More Comfortable
On November 20, the Medica Disrupt session on the topics of diagnostics and health monitoring will start at 1:00 pm. One participant in this session will be Vitascale. This company is looking to make spiroergometry a more pleasant experience for the patient via a novel headset which is set to replace the usual mask and mouthpiece. The headset measures expiratory oxygen, respiratory volume and the pulse. An app calculates personal fitness, fat burned and the basal metabolic rate. The patented system enables users to analyze their performance without a mask and provides coaching to optimize the individual’s weight and performance with a precision that, up until now, could only be obtained using expensive and cumbersome medical devices. 13 other start-ups will also present innovative solutions for measuring blood pressure, lab-on-skin technology and biomarker analysis in this session.
The following Medica Disrupt session will be dedicated to women’s health. Here, the start-up viMum will show how modern antenatal prep for parents could look using e-learning modules that can be called up in an app. The viMum experts consist of midwives, gynecologists, pediatricians, psychologists, and dietitians who provide qualified support to expectant parents. Other start-ups in this Wednesday session will present breastfeeding apps, a smart wireless stethoscope for babies and children and a wireless cardiotocography system (iCTG) for monitoring fetal health.
Cognitive and Mental Health Prove a Strong Field for Growth
The Medica Disrupt session on November 21 at 11:00 am will be dedicated to cognitive and mental health. Michele Maltese, CEO and co-founder of Avanix, will present a modern system for monitoring patients with Alzheimer’s, among other uses. OiX Care enables professional care givers to monitor Alzheimer’s patients around the clock. The system consists of a transmitter (OiX Sensor) which is worn by the patient and a receiver (OiX Receiver) that enables the care giver to monitor the person. OiX communicates in real time through an ISM radiofrequency protocol. The device does not require a telephone or network connection to transfer information from the patient to the care giver and has a range of 200 meters indoors and three kilometers outdoors.
The “Mindance” app, on the other hand, focuses on increasing wellbeing by functioning as a personal assistant, providing meditations, relaxation exercises and applying the latest findings from the psychology field. All of this is combined in one app that would be perfectly suited for companies to increase occupational health. For example, employees could be given personalized mental training via the app. Robin Maier, CEO and founder, will explain in detail how this concept could work.
New Methods for Treating Chronic Conditions
In the next Medica Disrupt session, the future for treating chronic illnesses will be discussed. Start-ups will show innovations for treating high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions via non-invasive measurement of blood glucose, ranging from glaucoma to chronic pain. Using light will be big theme. The CareWear light patch produces blue and red light in order to relieve pain and improve tissue regeneration by boosting local blood circulation and elevating the tissue temperature. The light patches emit wavelengths of light to warm tissues, which relaxes the muscle and stimulates circulation. The CareWear light patches are wireless and are easy to use. They will be presented at Medica by Dr. Chris Castel (CEO).
The sessions on November 21 will revolve around artificial intelligence (AI), big data and how AI is used to classify and document ulcers and wounds.
The Medica Start-Up Park is Booming
While the Medica Disrupt sessions offer start-ups a stage for their presentations, the Medica Start-Up Park in Hall 13 provides a meeting point during the trade fair, ensuring that contact can be made with these young companies and to provide a platform for discussing their creative product concepts. Last year’s winner of the Innovation World Cup (in the healthcare category), the start-up StethoMe, will take part in the fully-booked up Medica Start-Up Park, offering a wireless stethoscope which lets parents check their children’s lung and heart function quickly themselves and share the data with a doctor via an app.
Also participating in the Medica Start-Up Park will be the Polish development team from SensDx, with its software and hardware applications to prevent incorrect flu diagnosis resulting in lung infections and bronchitis. Part of this is a multi-sensor which enables a quick test to diagnose infections of the upper respiratory tract. A swab sample is taken which is then placed in a solution contained in a capsule and then put a compact measuring device. The sensor can detect a flu virus in its early stages, which is very important in enabling the doctor to select the correct therapy and preventing unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics since antibiotics do not work on viral infections.
Rehago, from Reutlingen University, is a German start-up also presenting at the Medica Start-Up Park. Rehago specializes in virtual reality applications that can be used as a training activity in rehabilitation of hemiplegic patients, patients with muscular spasms or hemispatial neglect (an attention disorder caused by brain lesions).
Intento, a Swiss company, is also active in the rehabilitation field. At Medica 2019, Intento will present an easy-to-use application that aids patients who have been severely paralyzed by strokes in recovering the motor function in their upper limbs. The solution revolves around functional electrical stimulation and requires no prior knowledge on how to place electrodes or time-consuming steps to configure the system. The rehabilitation application from Intento consists of a tablet application for therapists and a device for controlling movement (for the patient) that is linked to an electrical stimulator.
A total of over 30 start-ups will participate in the Medica Start-Up Park. Six of them benefit from the support provided by the Merck Group’s global accelerator program. This science and technology company, predominantly driven by research, is based in Darmstadt (Germany) and supports start-ups with the objective of entering into a partnership with them. Besides funding, the Merck Group offers access to the facilities and venues at the Merck Innovation Center as well as the opportunity to join a network of over 50,000 experts and alumni in 67 countries.