• News
  • People
  • Long Read
  • Opinion
  • Weekend Wrap


HealthSPA boosts innovation for Finnish health startups

The HealthSPA team with NetMedi’s head of operations Henri Virtanen (second from left).Ruairi O'Hehir

Getting to know the right people in the health tech ecosystem can be tricky, but Finnish association Healthspa is working towards putting the pieces together.

HealthSPA* offers comprehensive networking for health sector startups to meet the relevant parties, including medical professionals, corporations, investors and other startups. They organise meet ups, provide advice and directions and organise an annual event, Upgraded Life Festival.

Grass roots

Kenneth Salonius, co-founder of HealthSPA describes the company as ‘grass roots’. The idea to form the association came about in 2012 when the founders, all entrepreneurs, noticed that there were no grass roots driven initiatives for startups to connect with the rest of the health ecosystem.

HealthSPA was also born on the premise that it could “bring forward the industry as a whole, connect investors, media, large corporates and industry experts,” Salonius describes.

The association is funded by private and public means and runs on a non-profit basis.

“We want to see Finland as the hotspot for health-tech and during the last four years we have really seen that taking place,” Salonius explains and adds that, “four years ago nobody talked about the health industry from an entrepreneur’s perspective”.

HealthSPA seeks to provide the means to give every health startup the best chance of succeeding in Finland by connecting all the different areas of the health industry. By facilitating investment in health tech, Healthspa is ensuring that healthcare throughout the world will ultimately improve.

A life upgrade

Upgraded Life Festival is a yearly event organised by HealthSPA. It aims to provide a place for the whole health ecosystem, from startups to investors, to meet on a large scale.

Netmedi was founded in 2012 by a group of software developers, including Henri Virtanen (left), Otto Seiskari, Kaarlo Haikonen, Lauri Sippola and Joel Lehikoinen. Image: Health Spa

With over 950 in attendance in 2015, Hanna Vartia, the main organiser of the event expects over 1 000 people to the festival this year. The event is organised for startups, medical professionals, corporations, researchers and other forerunners in heath.

Ultimately the target of the event is to gather all the different sectors of the health ecosystem to learn and build together.

International investment is something that HealthSPA is eager to get on board. “That’s what Upgraded Life Festival is for: to attract international companies to see what health innovations are growing in Finland and what a developed ecosystem we have,” says Vartia.

According to Salonius, it can be difficult for Finnish companies to get recognition on international markets until they have reference customers. This is something that HealthSPA aims to improve by being able to connect the industry.

Echoing success

Developed by Netmedi, Kaiku, which means ‘echo’ in Finnish, connects patients and healthcare workers in the area of oncology.

Netmedi has benefited greatly from the services that HealthSPA provides by swiftly becoming a European leader in health-related digital communication.

Kaiku has been created with the help of patients and professionals, and hopes to break down the barriers of communication between cancer patients and their doctors. The online platform guides a cancer patient through treatment and recovery, while helping their care team improve the treatment process by getting up-to-date data about the patient’s wellbeing.

“There are many things that need to be monitored from the patients during and after the treatment,” describes Henri Virtanen, Netmedi’s head of operations. “It is very important to follow any possible adverse effects and the quality of life of a patient. Patients also have many other questions during their treatments.”

Kaiku aims to reduce the time and resources needed to check in on patients. In the traditional follow-up, when all communication is done on the phone or in person, there will always be a period of time in-between where the patient is not being monitored.

Kaiku is being used by both private and public hospitals around Finland, Sweden and also in four of the top oncology units in Europe, based in Switzerland.

“As cancer treatments evolve and are being tested it’s very important that there are quicker follow-ups between the patient and the medical staff,” Virtanen explains. “It is important that hospitals can target their resources for the patients whose situation requires it the most.”

Text: Ruairi O’Hehir


*Known as Upgraded since 2018

Published on 08.03.2016