On 3 September 2013, the MedTech Nordic Investing and Partnering event at Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall brought together growth companies and investors to tap into the high growth industry. Support for early stage investments is needed to keep the industry thriving.
Medical technology or medtech to people in the industry, produces a wide range of healthcare products used to diagnose, monitor and treat diseases and medical conditions, including mobile, biological and nanotechnology solutions. In 2012 the Finnish medtech industry reported exports of EUR 1.65 billion, growing the trade specific surplus to a record of EUR 735 million.
The growth in medtech globally derives from the global phenomenon of a rapidly growing middle class, the members of which live to an older age than ever before. People are looking to increase the quality of their longer life and have more money to spend on doing so.
Pitches and mingling
The MedTech Nordic Investing and Partnering summit featured 30 startup and growth companies delivering 4-minute pitches about their product and the funding they need. Companies came from four Nordic countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Company platforms varied from Beibamboo’s pediatric ICU baby clothes to wireless interface systems that can be run with the tongue. The latter, built by Danish TKS Technology, won the Clinica Award for offering a new solution to a challenging problem, improving care for severely paralyzed people and for saving healthcare costs.
The pitches were aimed at the investor advisory board, consisting of Health Cap, Neomed Management, Sunstone Capital, Inventure, Birk Venture, Industrifonden, Vaekstfonden and Novo Seeds as well as other delegate investors. The event included time and space to mingle and meet with the companies, with stands and discussion tables arranged for face-to-face meetings.
More support for growth companies
Medtech is growing in Finland, but Veli Mäkelä, Chairman of the Finnish Health Technology Association, remarks that more should be done to ensure the industry blossoms. “We need new funding mechanisms to help boost the growth of smaller companies. We have some very innovative startups and growth companies in the industry in Finland. They will drive the industry in the future, so we need to make sure they can fill their potential,” Mäkelä describes.
The investor panel, moderated by Seppo Mäkinen of Merieux Developpement, supported that idea. “The biggest fund for medtech in Finland is 25m€ It’s not good enough. Pensions funds need to become a more active in financing medtech, because it will not only support the industry but also increase the pension funds themselves.”
While early support is crucial to help good ideas become great products, Johan Christenson, partner at Swedish Health Cap, noted that product development is rarely the point of failure. Investors and buyers are conservative and skeptical, so some serious and professional sales and marketing is needed. “The real hurdle for new companies is the clinical trial phase and teaching buyers to invest into innovation and new ways of working.”
TEXT: JOHANNA EIRAMO