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Digital Health Start-up Story

Switzerland has an increasing number of start-ups in the field of digital health. They focus primarily on technology-orientated offerings and on doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies as customers. This is the conclusion of a new study by ZHAW and Health-Trends

Switzerland has a dynamic, rapidly developing startup landscape in the digital health sector. Of the current total of around 180 to 200 start-up companies, the majority are active in the “data health” and “tech health” segments: they offer, for example, digital solutions for the evaluation of health data or digitally controllable medical technology products. More than half of the start-ups included in the survey are located in the Zurich area and employ a maximum of five people.

These are the findings of a survey conducted by the ZHAW School of Management and Law and Health-Trends, a Swiss think tank for digital health. The survey is based on an online survey of 42 Swiss start-ups that was conducted between July and December 2019.

FURTHER GROWTH EXPECTED

“We assume that the digital health sector and the associated start-up scene will develop rapidly in the coming years. The COVID-19 Pandemic is likely to accelerate this trend even more,” says Alfred Angerer, head of the Department of Management in Healthcare at the Winterthur Institute of Health Economics at the ZHAW School of Management and Law. “The high proportion of start-ups in “tech health” and “data health” also illustrates how important high-tech skills are for innovations in the digital health environment. Many start-ups use forward-looking technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the internet of things.

The high proportion of start-ups in “tech health” and “data health” also illustrates how important high-tech skills are for innovations in the digital health environment

WIDE RANGE OF SERVICES

Around three-quarters of the startups offer digital products and services in core medical areas, such as prevention, symptom recording, information search, diagnosis and therapy. These can be digital symptom testers or online information platforms, for example, for searching for doctors and therapists. In terms of content, the solutions are often aimed at chronic illnesses like diabetes or cancer, or at psychological complaints.

As the survey further shows, 80 per cent of the start-ups are active in the B2B sector and focus on hospitals, doctors, health insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies as customers. “This is mainly due to the fact that the willingness of private customers to pay for digital health offers in Switzerland has been rather low to date,” explains Matthias Mettler, coinitiator of Health-Trends and expert on the digital health and innovation scene in Switzerland.

Around half of the start-ups already have a well-developed product or service offering. Another quarter has at least one offer in the form of prototypes, whose market demand is currently being validated by the companies concerned. Almost 85 per cent of the start-ups have entered into cooperation agreements with academic partners to develop their offerings.

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