This article was published on 10 July 2019
2019 HealthTech Week was a celebration of how technology has, and will, continue to transform our healthcare.
Right here in New Zealand we see not just high-value research out of our Universities, but also genius ideas from everyday people, developing to address global health problems. This Kiwi innovation is providing New Zealanders with first access to ground-breaking medical technology, while creating high-value local jobs.
Six emerging health tech startups showcased their fantastic innovations as part of our Callaghan Innovation HealthTech Week activities.
The technologies in our pitching session have potential for growth, are at the stage where their R&D is going well, and they have their first viable product ready to go to market – some are already in market. The common aim for all of these technologies is to help medical professionals do their jobs better, reducing bottle necks so that they can spend more one-on-one time with patients.
JunoFem – reducing female incontinence (Judges Winner)
One in three women suffer from stress urinary incontinence. JunoFem aims to help more women overcome this by improving the effectiveness of pelvic floor exercises - disrupting the US$8B female incontinence pad market while they’re at it.
The pelvic floor muscle exercises resolve 80% of issues for SUI sufferers. With JunoFem’s FemFit smart sensor device the benefits of these exercises can be extended to 94% of sufferers. The device uses a patented configuration of sensors to measure profiles along the vagina, where users get real-time visual feedback on their smart device about their pelvic floor contractions. Clinical trials around the exercises have been completed in Canada, Australia, Auckland and are currently taking place in the UK, with JunoFem’s clinical study about to get underway in Auckland.
Jennifer Kruger is internationally eminent in pelvic floor health research.
Elucimed - Life-saving real-time data analysis (Crowd Winner)
Imagine being able to predict something like sepsis before the symptoms started showing in a patient in acute care? Sepsis, a serious infection, is the leading cause of death in hospitals. Every hour without treatment increases the risk of death by 4%.
Elucimed brings together the wealth of data created each second by what can be up to 8 different monitoring devices in ICU for example, to help clinicians make better and quicker decisions. It can alert staff to issues that are happening to patient earlier, before typical visible signs. This includes demonstrating Sepsis 12 hours before the normal clinical symptoms present. It has a great customer base of researchers and is working with Wellington Hospital for data. VIDEO
Elucimed, based in Wellington, is a spinout from the University of Otago, led by Terry O’Donnell its CEO.
Popin – digitally connecting elderly to loved ones as well as healthcare
What if your 93-year-old grandma’s TV not only enabled you to video call her and order Uber Eats, but also access medical reminders and guidance. Popin is a field-tested device that helps connect the elderly to people to the outside world in the simplest way possible - using the TV and remote that they already use every day. It is also a platform for delivering a wide range services targeted at this demographic, such as medication management, shopping or ride services straight into their homes. At the core of Popin’s platform is the desire is to improve meaningful connections for the elderly, reducing the growing digital divide. VIDEO
Thinkladder – AI-driven app for mental health
Described as a ‘therapist in your pocket’, Thinkladder has made cognitive behavioral therapy digital so that it’s accessible to more people who need it. Using clinically proven methods and powered by artificial intelligence, Thinkladder has gone global from day 1 with 35,000 app downloads. It identifies subconscious beliefs that are the roots of stress, anxiety and depression, and then everyday suggests actions each day to manage these beliefs. Husband and wife duo Mark and Katie Gatt started Thinkladder so that this sort of help wasn’t locked in a therapist’s office. VIDEO
HeartLab – autonomously diagnosing cardiology issues
In October last year it was reported that south Auckland patients were waiting up to 11 months for a potentially life-saving heart scan. Cardiologists collectively spend millions of hours reporting echocardiograms – the leading diagnostic tool for heart disease. HeartLab uses artificial intelligence to automate this process, getting cardiologists back to their patients. The system autonomously analyses echocardiogram images, alongside the cardiologist, to improve diagnosis. It is championed by HeartLab’s CEO, Will Hewitt, a young entrepreneur who has brought a number of innovative ideas to reality.
Myovolt – wearable muscle rehabilitation
Myovolt is a new rehabilitation tool born out of research with elite sportspeople including the All Blacks and Olympic-level athletes. It delivers Localized Vibration Therapy to muscles, ligaments and joints in a practical, wearable form. It is the result of many years of R&D by wearable technology experts on performance enhancement in sports. The vibrations are at specific pulse rates to increase circulation, boost muscle power, relax muscles or ligaments, and reduce pain. VIDEO
Callaghan Innovation offers innovation, R&D and commercialisation support, connections and co-funding for ambitious New Zealand innovators. Get in touch for more information.