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Health Valley 2016: ‘healthcare is the next big thing’

A tiny robot which talks to an elderly woman with dementia and plays her favourite music to make her feel less lonely. A very small pill with a miniaturized system to detect cancer at a very early stage. These are just two examples of innovations in healthcare presented at the Health Valley Event, on 17 March 2016 in Nijmegen.

The Health Valley Event brought together more than 1100 people working for health care providers, knowledge and governmental institutions and in business. The event was organised for the eighth time in Nijmegen, a city which has, together with its surroundings, a strong position in (e-)health.

Crossovers

Theme of this year’s event was: ‘Where crossovers lead to innovation’. More specifically, it was about cooperation between people working in health care with people from different fields such as technology, chemistry, food or sports. These crossovers can lead to interesting, unexpected findings and can drive innovation processes.

‘Building bridges’ was the most heard metaphor this day. Chris Doomernik, director of Health Valley, even dared to say: “Building bridges is part of our DNA”. The organisation, with its office at Novio Tech Campus in Nijmegen, brings together people in several ways: one-on-one or through big gatherings such as this event.

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Director of Health Valley Chris Doomernik starts a new session.

Buzzwords or not, when asked about changes in crossovers over the years, Doomernik saw two major trends. “My observation is that collaborations are getting a bigger scale these days. Furthermore, I think that the connections between startup hubs are getting stronger, not just within the Netherlands but also between Dutch and German regions.”

Rockstart Digital Health

Oscar Kneppers, founder and CEO of Rockstart, was one of the keynote speakers. Rockstart started an accelerator programme in Digital Health at Novio Tech Campus last year. Ten startups participated and a few weeks ago, on 10 March, they presented their products at Digital Health demo day.

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Rockstart’s founder and CEO Oscar Kneppers during his keynote presentation.

Kneppers thinks that health care is an exciting field. “In my opinion, nowadays health care is ‘the next big thing’, comparable to the way I used to think about internet in the 90’s.” He soon gave the floor to two alumni of Rockstart’s Digital Health programme. Wang Long Li, CEO of Tinybots, talked about his startup’s innovation: a social robot called Tessa which can keep people with dementia company. Amin Zayani from Med Angel presented an app, connected to a sensor, which gives an alarm signal if the temperature of the fridge is too cold or hot. This system helps in storing medicines at the right temperature.

Investors lounge

At the investors lounge, four entrepreneurs pitched their innovative ideas in front of a jury of investors. In the audience were also several investors out of the network of Oost NV, a regional business development and investment agency in the East-Netherlands. Digest Inn, SensoRun, Bruxlab and iGene were the four innovations presented on stage.

Digest Inn by GainPlay Studio is a serious game with a focus on motivating (overweighed) people to eat healthy and walk more. The game involves a hotel represented as a body and the gamer can keep the hotel guests happy by making healthy choices. SensoRun offers sensor based solutions for runners, providing them with visual or auditory feedback on their technique while running. Bruxlab, an alumnus of Rockstart’s Digital Health accelerator, offers a diagnostic method for nocturnal teeth grinding, also called bruxism. And iGene offers a gene passport, based on a person’s DNA profile. The passport informs people about the risk of developing certain diseases and combines this information with personalised lifestyle advice.

Nationale Zorginnovatieprijs

The day ended with the announcement of the winner of the Nationale Zorginnovatieprijs, a new initiative of Stichting Zorginnovatie Nederland. Over one hundred innovations registered for this award on Zorginnovatie.nl and the three most promising were selected. Participants could vote via the Health Valley networking app.

Winner of the award was Dovideq Medical with its ScopeControl. This is a measuring instrument that can automatically check the quality of an endoscope, a medical device used to look inside a body cavity or organ, within minutes. Other contestants were eNose with its Aeonose, an electronic nose which can detect tuberculosis and throat cancer based on the composition of exhaled air, and Rephagia by SilverFit, a system to help people with swallowing problems train and regain their swallowing function.

Photo credits: Jack Tillmanns, Foto Focus. 

Moniek Veltman

Moniek is a freelance text writer with a background in neuroscience and psychology.

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