by Maria Raimundo* | originally published in Observador
The transformation of digital health has highlighted the need for the entire industry and medical practice entities to operate and keep patients at the center. Patient centralization has influenced national guidelines and policies in several countries and organizations, including the US, UK, EU, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The concept of patient-centered care adopts a conscious perspective of the patient. As an example, the importance of the patient’s interactions with service providers and institutions. When the patient interacts with the healthcare system, he/she interacts with various stakeholders throughout the process. However, healthcare has taken unexpected directions, including placing patient-centeredness in larger circumstances that are transforming 21st-century medicine.
The healthcare system is part of an ecosystem, a larger concept where several patient-centered entities act. Players, such as Big Tech companies or innovators of Digital Health solutions, were not previously included in the traditional healthcare system. Besides patients interacting with the healthcare system, system stakeholders also interact with each other to maintain well-being and patient-centered care. This new collaborative health paradigm is building a new multipolar ecosystem. It includes hospitals and other primary care centers, medical industry companies, universities, patient associations, startups and SMEs, foundations and NGOs, among other governmental and regional institutions. Here, collaboration is joining capacities, interests, and knowledge between all these entities present in the ecosystem, to create innovative initiatives for change, and go far beyond the doctor-patient relationship.
Within this new ecosystem, everyone shares information, engagement, and responsibility. Consequently, both knowledge and technology are converging and crossing boundaries between entities. Therefore, there is a need for all stakeholders to join together and form consortia to explore possible synergies. The goal is to 1) cooperate in delivering services, professional training plans, innovation, and research; and 2) reflect on how health is organized and oriented towards innovation. These goals are not only common to the healthcare system, but also to the digital health strategy to be adopted. Entities need to discuss and define healthcare innovation requirements, interest in participating in pilot projects and help with its implementation efforts. Collaboration is key for entities to implement innovative, sustainable and effective initiatives beyond pilot projects. Only then will healthcare transformation needs be met, of today and for the future. It is, therefore, necessary to consider the value that each entity brings, propose improvements according to each one’s needs, and ultimately face the solution as an ecosystem.
We need a digital healthcare transformation that respects the entities involved, that is bold enough to collaboratively assess what is needed, what didn’t work, what is an exaggeration, and what brings value. Where entities align the change needed to improve the quality, availability, and value of care. What needs to stop? What is worth replacing or needs to happen in the vast landscape of digital healthcare evolution? Hospitals or government institutions are just two parts of this ecosystem. The key to the success of a sustainable future healthcare transformation is also in the remaining stakeholders. Where can companies, associations, startups and SMEs, foundations, among others, provide value, suggest improvements and contribute to the development and implementation of new solutions?! The solution is collaborative!
* Maria Raimundo, 31 years old, is a Biomedical Engineer with a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management within Life Sciences. She currently works at Beta-i, a collaborative innovation consultancy, as Senior Account Manager, promoting Digital Health innovation throughout the healthcare ecosystem. While attending the PhD program at MIT Portugal, Maria focused on the challenges of using and sharing genetic data. Her interests in eHealth, personalized medicine, genetics, nutrition and innovation led her to the United Nations, MIT, as well as professional experience in startups.
The Open Innovation programs The Journey and Protechting achieved major pilot results – involving 23 startups from 15 countries, in three continents – to develop new solutions on Tourism, Fintech, Insurtech and Healthtech businesses
The crucial moment for establishing collaborative processes between corporates and startups, within Open Innovation programs, is unquestionably the Bootcamp. Under the method implemented by Beta-i over the years (and it’s been a decade!), Bootcamps are the turning point of every program, as the people behind the needs of organizations and the solutions brought by startups meet one on one, to develop something new – and collectively get achievable results.
The latest Beta-i Bootcamps on Tourism (The Journey) and the Fintech, Healthtech and Insurtech triad (Protechting) are a robust example of this process, with 29 pilots going to be considered and developed from 23 startups of 15 countries to impact both B2B and B2C fronts.
The Journey: innovation in Tourism
This Open Innovation program deals with one of the most interconnected industries of the contemporary era: Tourism, a gigantic cluster that generates economic, social and even identity consequences for the destinations visited. Goes without saying that the Tourism sector has been booming in Portugal for years in a row, and that’s why this Open Innovation program has been connecting key players in the Portuguese market with innovators from all over the world. “The Tourism Industry is one of the most competitive ones, and we must build everyday solutions and new services to our customers while envisioning the future,” explains Sergio Guerreiro, Senior Director Knowledge Management & Innovation from Turismo de Portugal, one of the organizations investing in the program alongside Barraqueiro Group, Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua and Vila Galé Hotels (in addition to Unicre, a key payment solutions provider in the country that participates as a Data Partner).
Every innovator deserves a break: The Journey participants on a hop-on hop-off bus and boat
In its 4th edition, the program investigated and selected startups able to tackle Hospitality, Parks & Monuments and Tours & Activities pain points shared by our clients, then linked to themes such as Smart Connected Operations, Seamless Traveler Journey, Customer Experience and Sustainable Development Solutions. These scouting challenges emerge a result of the needs assessments carried out by Beta-i’s expert team alongside the participant corporates teams, so the process can converge to common goals from the very beginning – and so can be explored in the Bootcamp.
The result of this concerted effort generated in the end of October the excellent result of 17 pilots, from 11 startups of 6 countries in Europe and Asia. “This number is a result of the program’s direct response to these tourism operators challenges,” says Gonçalo Faria, Open Innovation Program Director at Beta-i, who also highlights “some very interesting solutions on water and energy efficiency, aiming for a more sustainable tourism”. The results of this collaboration will be known at the end of January 2020, when The Journey comes to an end with one of the key events for tourism innovation businesses in Portugal: the Lisbon Tourism Summit 2020, focused on sustainability and organized by Beta-i, which counts with The Journey’s Demo Day on its programming: in other words, the moment when the results of these collaboratively developed pilots are presented to the stakeholders.
Protechting: tackling multiple industry challenges and geographies
Bootcamps are a special moment because, as Beta-i Senior Growth Strategist Tomás Bento recalls, “startups come in very ambitious for the program, but sometimes lack the experience to make the best win-win connections with corporates. And we believe that our contribution is fundamental to trim every potential down to the very essentials, and help them set up a bolder pitch”. And that’s exactly what happened at the Protechting bootcamp, which ended on November 21st in Lisbon, where 12 pilots were selected out of 21 different startups from 12 countries in three continents. As Beta-i’s Program Director Francisco Carvalho adds, “thanks to this collaboration, some startups were able to fully adapt their technologies, turning their initial proposals into much more fit and desirable solutions for the participant corporates”.
Shiny happy people: corporates, startups and Beta-i celebrating the closing of Protechting Bootcamp
Protechting is defiant by definition as it brings together different industries under the leadership of the same shareholder, the Chinese group Fosun – the name behind companies such as Fidelidade (Insurtech track), Luz Saúde Learning Health (Healthtech track) and the German bank Hauck & Aufhäuser (Fintech track). The process was tailored to this consortium, which in addition to different industries also operates in different geographies and has a particular involvement with China. To solve that, two groups of startups were selected: one for pilots development, and another (with more primary business models, coming from other 5 countries) for a parallel mentoring and acceleration path. “We truly believe in Open Innovation. The Protechting program gives us access to startups from around the world, and in order to accommodate both our strategic and geographic goals, we created these two groups. The pre-acceleration one is focused on bringing startups from markets where we are expanding right now, such as Mozambique and Peru” says José Villa de Freitas, Fidelidade’s marketing manager.
This strategic ambition facilitated by Protechting is reinforced by Harald Patt, CEO at Fosun Europe Innovation Hub and Managing Director of Fosun’s Wealth Department and Fintech Sector. Responsible for the Chinese group’s deal flow on startups, Patt sees the program as a concrete way to incorporate new solutions into the company portfolio. “In addition to the areas where we operate around the world, it is important to remember that we´re deeply rooted in China and we are able to generate great opportunities there.”
Bootcamps are particularly prized by Patt, since it’s the crucial moment where original ideas, created to solve people and organizations daily problem, leverage their approaches as business models. “It’s exciting. Startups with good ideas and bad pitches often turn out to present amazing solutions at the end of the pilot phase. Not to mention that this is the moment of truth, where they must prove a differentiated and scalable technology”. What was a surprise in the beginning – a global open innovation program set up all the way from Portugal – now is the new normal to him: “although central Europe is not always paying attention, the Portuguese ecosystem is very active and we are aware of this”.
Tonic App was very young at the time of their application to Techcare (they had launched in March 2017). Still, once selected, they decided to bring the whole team to the Bootcamp: the perfect opportunity for all of them to better understand and to know how to work with the pharmaceutical industry.
Trying to narrow down an experience like this, we talked to the founder Daniela Seixas, to get some conclusions and outputs of Tonic App regarding the program:
Human approach is the core
In the end (well, in the beginning too), it’s all about human connection. The intense environment created in a moment like the bootcamp, is set to foster communication. Whether you’re a startup or a program partner, you will be speaking to one another, as you are all there with the same purpose.
Your access is 360º
Following the previous point, we can say that the fast access a startup can have to a company like this is indeed the biggest plus. Tonic App claims for this to be the greatest advantage of taking such an opportunity – in a short period of time they could reach to Novartis stakeholders, in a 360º vision, way faster than in other approaches.
People are the best, but they’re also the biggest challenge
Reaching to the partners is what you want and need, but it can also be your biggest struggle. As a small structure they were, Tonic App team found itself managing more than its internal resources, “the other side”. This means adapting your team to redouble their efforts into dealing and managing processes and expectations of other teams (in this case, Novatis’ one) in an organizational struggle that is also a major learning. Then, a natural conclusion rises:
Corporates and Startups have different timings
And this is a learning for both intervenients. Timings for approvals, results, decisions, are intrinsically different and both parts need to adapt, as to manage expectations. Typically, Startups are going fast, eager to respond and to receive feedback. Corporates on the other hand, follow more structured processes that will contrast to the startup way of living. Expectations need to be managed, for both, but learning from it will only bring benefits.
Culture is very important
And Novartis gets five stars from Tonic App on this. The startup has defined Novartis’ culture as extremely open, proactive and innovative. It represents some risk, of course, as being open to change always is. But it is definitely a plus to work with a company that opens its doors on innovation, and Techcare has proven it.
Life has changed
And keeps changing. Tonic App is nowadays a medical device thanks to Novartis, as it is also a requisite for them to continue working together. The team has grown, and Daniela says that, personally, it has been a very good experience, as more opportunities have risen. They have several ongoing projects with Novartis and new opportunities for internationalization are appearing.
They would do it again
Yes, Daniela says they would definitely do it again. It is indeed rewarding for a program like Techcare to get this kind of feedback from an Alumni. But it is even more important that Techcare have been able to deliver results and pilots between participant startups and Novartis, continuing to foster commercial relationships between them.
But as Protechting is now taking applications for this years’ edition, it is also pertinent to let applicants know about one of the perks of Protechting – Piloting track: the roadshow to China.
Pack some clothes (and a pitch or two), you are going to Shanghai
If you are part of the top three startups to participate, this is where Protechting is taking you. We are talking about a global financial hub, 8th place ranked in the Top 30 Global Startup Ecosystems, as stated in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report launched this year. Food for thought, Shanghai is also part of the only three ecosystems that made it to the top 10 in both female entrepreneurship and global performance.
The experience is made to open some doors for the brave entrepreneurs by meeting Fosun and their associated companies as well as expanding the knowledge about the country’s market and culture. In fact, you might even take the chance to explore other opportunities all by yourself as you are already there.
Protechting’s applications phase are currently open. This year, the program’s evaluators are adding a new criteria to the selection of the top candidates: solutions with a sustainable and socially impact will certainly catch their attention.
You can even have add up a pinch of Sustaintech and there you go: the fourth edition of Protechting is on the making.
After three previous successful editions, Protechting is back to promote the collaboration between startups and established corporations. It has now two different tracks to boost startups growth, according to their maturity: a Piloting track and a new Pre-Acceleration track, with a spotlight at sustainable and socially impacting solutions.
Healthtech, Insurtech and Fintech startups – If you are eager to pilot your solution or to speed up your growth, here are the Partners who are making it happen:
As the largest insurance group in Portugal, with over 200 years of existence and an international presence, Fidelidade consists of a group of companies in the insurance and health sectors, including also a combination of services, that as a whole, protect the future of families, companies and Country. If Protection is your thing, this is the partner for you.
Fidelidade is here from the very first edition of Protechting (Jesus, it has been a few years now) noticing how startups have been bringing innovation and a new look into these areas. Shout out to the brave winners of the first edition of the program: EctoSense LifeSymb and CleenBeen.
Hospital da Luz Learning Health
Inside Luz Saúde Group, Hospital da Luz Learning Health is dedicated to the advanced training of professionals, translational research and innovation, in healthcare provision and management.
As the improvement of knowledge, technologies and advanced practices in healthcare are what makes their DNA, you can already see that innovation is part of the job and therefore the right partner to collaborate – “Healthteching” speaking.
Hauck & Aufhäuser
Hauck & Aufhäuser presents itself as the Fintech partner for Protechting. Adding not only knowledge and expertise into the area, it adds also to the international focus of the program, since it is a private german bank, with a 220-year history.
This is actually the most recent partner of the program, joining for the previous edition in 2018 – in fact here is their own testimony entering Proteching.
Fosun was founded in 1992 and is a family-focused multinational company listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (00656.HK) since 2007. With its roots in China, and through technology and innovation, Fosun’s mission is to create customer-to-maker (C2M) ecosystems in health, happiness and wealth. The group embraces all the other partners of the program.
Actually, the presence of Fosun in Protechting is what can be taking you to China: The three best solutions of the piloting track will get the chance to participate in a roadshow in China with access to some of the largest global investors.