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Health solutions take centre stage in Finland

The video capabilities incorporated in the Evondos Anna robot make it possible to dispense medication during a virtual appointment with a health care professional.


Finnish companies have reported on progress with their solutions for determining the efficacy of analgesics, providing remote access to biometric testing, dispensing medication through a video link and entering the medical devices market without much of a regulatory hassle.

Fepod in June announced it has received 750 000 euros in seed funding from Almaral, a Finnish venture capital firm specialising in early-stage biotechnology and life sciences startups.

The Aalto University-based startup estimated that the funding will allow it to press forward with the clinical trials of its in-vitro tool for measuring the concentration of analgesics, such as opioids and paracetamol, in blood, as well as develop its sensor technology and software platform.

Measuring the concentration of an analgesic in blood is critical for determining its efficacy, but thus far such measurements have had to be carried out with painstaking laboratory methods. The analytics tool developed by the startup, by contrast, is fast and simple: it provides the result in seconds and requires mass-producible disposable sampling sensors that are read with an affordable portable device attached to a standard smartphone.

The analytics tool developed by Fepod provides results in seconds and requires sensors that are read with an affordable portable device attached to a standard smartphone. Image: Aapo Karhu

Jussi Pyysalo, CEO of Fepod, said the product development was enabled by research-to-business funding from Business Finland. The fresh seed funding, he added, will help the startup to finalise the technology and begin the process of procuring regulatory approvals in in the EU and US.

Aalto University transferred the technology to and took on a minority stake in the startup as part of the transaction, continuing its goal of advancing entrepreneurial capabilities throughout the university and to foster opportunities to create economic and social value.

Although the opioid dispensing rate has declined significantly in the US since the early 2010s, the total number of prescriptions remains well over 142 million, according to the CDC. Paracetamol, meanwhile, continues to cause more than 100 000 poisonings annually in the country, 0.1 per cent of which are fatal.

In Finland, opioid overdoses cause nearly 200 deaths a year, the largest proportion of fatal poisonings.

A shortcut through regulatory jungle

Innokas Medical, a Kempele-based medical technology and digital healthcare company, last week announced it is launching a service that allows companies to outsource the regulatory work associated with entering the highly regulated medical device market.

Called MDR Fast Track, the service sees the company assume the role of a responsible manufacturer on behalf of its clients and implement compliance with the EU’s Medical Device Regulation (MDR). The clients, meanwhile, are free to focus on their core activities and competences as long as they meet the minimum requirement of being able to develop the idea and prepare the sales, marketing and distribution of their device.

Innokas Medical has 30 years of experience in medical device design and manufacturing and has thus mastered the industry’s quality and regulatory requirements. Image: Innokas Medical

With all existing medical devices required to be compliant with the regulation by 2025, there is pressure not only on companies seeking compliance but also on authorities sifting through the applications – all the while the demand for skilled companies and innovative technological solutions soars due to demographic and societal changes.

The regulation and the regulatory in field in general are considered “intimidating” at best and a deterrent for market entry at worst, according to Pekka Pohjosaho, head of quality and regulatory affairs at Innokas Medical.

“We believe that it is vital to get new technologies into use in healthcare, and this must happen smoothly without risking the safety of the end users or patients,” he stated.

Janne Kostamo, CEO of Innokas Medical, assured that the product and intellectual property rights will remain fully in the ownership of the client and that the device will be sold under its original brand.

“It is in our shared interests to achieve compliance with a reasonable amount of work and more quickly than traditionally. The goal is to enable our customers to reach a profitable, successful, and growing business.”

Blood-based feedback in three new markets

Nightingale Health in June reported that it is poised to foray into three new markets through a commercial partnership with Physitrack, a digital healthcare company based in the UK. The Helsinki-based specialist in preventative health said the partnership will signal the launch of its at-home blood testing service, Livit, in Germany, the UK and the Nordics.

Users of Access, a wellness product offered by Physitrack, will thus be able to have their finger-prick blood samples analysed by Nightingale.

Nightingale Health is set to launch its at-home blood testing service, Livit, in Germany, the UK and the Nordics. Image: Nightingale Health

The startup said the service will “revolutionise” the coaching services of Physitrack in Germany, the UK and the Nordics. The partnership, it argued, also demonstrates the versatility of the health platform: it enables companies to prove the effectiveness of their interventions and provide additional motivation to customers through an advanced blood test-based feedback loop that is available exclusively from Nightingale.

“The combination puts together leading digital health coaching services and unprecedented preventative health insights analysed from a blood sample collected at home,” saidTeemu Suna, CEO of Nightingale.

Henrik Molin, CEO of Physitrack, similarly viewed that the ability to offer remote access to biometric testing is a big leap forward for Access.

“It allows us to scale this unique component of our offering internationally, as our wellness subsidiaries can offer their corporate client employees testing and coaching capabilities at their convenience, regardless of their location within their country,” he stated.

A medication-dispensing robot

Evondos, a Salo-based developer of automated medication-dispensing solutions, has had a busy start to June.

The startup announced it is launching a medication-dispensing robot called Evondos Anna. The video capabilities incorporated in the robot make it possible to dispense medication during a virtual appointment with a health care professional, thus making the robot suitable also for people who are able to live at home but require more help and support with taking medication.

Overall, video capabilities have the potential to enhance the flexibility of home care and allow care providers to provide in-person visits to patients who need them the most.

“Our medication-dispensing robot has already previously made it possible to dispense medication both independently and with the assistance of a nurse,” statedEetu Koski, chief executive at Evondos. “And now also the video-assisted dispensing of medication is possible with the same device.”

After signing the agreement, Eetu Koski (left), CEO of Evondos, and Jaume Saltó, CEO of Group Saltó shake hands. Image: Evondo

Evondos service has already been in use in Finland’s South Karelia region for five years, bringing clients a greater sense of security and confidence in their independent life at home.

“We’ve tested Evondos Anna with professionals, and our initial reaction is very positive,” said Jaana Nykänen, service designer at Siun Sote, the joint municipal authority providing social and healthcare services in the region. “We require confirmation that the medication has really been taken in the case of some patients. Evondos Anna’s video functionality solves this problem.”

The startup revealed earlier this month it is set to commence sales in Spain, following the signing of a framework agreement with Group Saltó.

Its partnership with the technology firm will enable it to locally support home care providers in the country, helping to make sure both that pharmacological therapies are implemented safely and according to plan and that people can live independently at home.

The announcements add to the excitement surrounding the 2022 HIMSS European Health Conference & Exhibition held in Helsinki on 14–16 June.

The Finnish pavilion at the exhibition will highlight domestic knowhow on digital health through dozens of companies, including Buddy Healthcare, Innokas Medical, Medixine, Medanets, Onnikka and Predicell. While health data and its potential to reshape clinical practices is the most important theme of the pavilion programme, the programme will also delve into themes such as active and healthy ageing, and pandemic preparedness at smart hospitals.

By: Aleksi Teivainen