Largest US digital health accelerator ventures to the Nordics

The NYC based StartUp Health, a global digital health organization boasting the world’s largest portfolio of companies.  Yesterday, the Finnish Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, Finpro, and Team Finland announced the launch of StartUp Health Finland.

StartUp Health Finland will be based at the Health Innovation Village in the Finnish Capital Helsinki, which houses a collection of Nordic health tech startups. It will focus on supporting, coaching, and integrating the Finnish startup ecosystem into its global health platform to ease access to funding, expertise, and the global market.

Steven Krein, cofounder and CEO of StartUp Health, launched the initiative on the opening night of Slush. “Finland is a healthcare pioneer and has the unique ingredients required for groundbreaking digital health innovation to thrive: cutting edge health innovation, mobile and digital leadership, a collaborative environment and a growing entrepreneurial energy,” he says.

3 crucial components for a startup ecosystem

Steven believes that platforms like Startup Health should be “not a startup thing, but a community thing”. He outlined the 3 crucial components he believes differentiate healthy startup communities.

First, he feels long-term coaching, which sees startups through their ups and downs, is essential.  “We have the first an only long-term coaching program for entrepreneurs,” says Steven.

Second, that “entrepreneurs are part of a community sharing information with each other.”  His philosophy divides the world into two types of people:  “batteries included” and “batteries not included.  “Batteries included” people are the ones who are helpful to startups, and can have a positive transformative affect on communities and industries.

Startup Health uses a single database that can be shared by all entrepreneurs, which allows them to keep track of “batteries included” people and organizations through a Startup Health Pledge.  The database also includes the “batteries not included” organizations that entrepreneurs should avoid.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Steven says that strong startup communities have the right mindset.

“I’ve been asked multiple times over the last couple of days, ‘Why Finland?’.  And I said, ‘Finland doesn’t just talk, they do.’  It is the mindset of people I’ve met here that has confirmed the reason we chose to launch here.

A competition for the opening spots

StartUp Health Finland’s first tasks will be to competitively select five Finnish health tech start-ups and invite them to the StartUp Health Academy for what the company calls “a long time entrepreneurial coaching program and a trusted peer network”. The initiative aims at developing and scaling the early stage health tech businesses in Finland.

“We believe that by connecting the nation’s amazing entrepreneurs into StartUp Health’s global program and our network around the world, we can make a significant impact on transforming healthcare,” said Unity Stoakes, cofounder and president of StartUp Health. “While we are starting by helping build 5 Finnish startups, the goal is to eventually help build 100 or more Finnish health tech companies and create one of the world’s leading health innovation hubs that will serve as a model for other communities.”

A strategy of going global, early

“One of the challenges for young entrepreneurs in Finland is getting access to global commercialization opportunities and investors around the world. The collaboration with StartUp Health will bridge this gap,” said Eero Toivainen, Program Director of Team Finland Health.

Finland is not new to technological innovation. Over the years the country has churned out some of the world most recognizable brands such as Nokia, Sunto, Polar, Rovio Entertainment, and Supercell just to name a few. Indeed, before succumbing to its woes, the Finnish tech giant, Nokia was the world’s biggest mobile phone maker and a global household name.  Now Finland seeks to lead again, and this time in digital health technology.

Steven Krein emphasizes that complacency in the healthcare industry is not an option.

“This industry is too important to sit back and let status quo be okay.”

Additional reporting by Lisa Mallner.