Med-tech is booming.
And while established market players continue to innovate and scale their businesses, the sheer numbers and stability of med-tech start-ups establishing themselves is sure to see a significant dint in the market share of the larger companies over the next few years.
Let’s take a look at the med-tech market across the world to see:
- Which sectors are driving this growth
- Who the established OEMs are
- Which British and Irish start-ups look like being the ones – among literally thousands – to watch
Med-tech under the microscope
In 2016, approximately 12,200 patent applications filed with the European Patent Office in the field of medical technology – this represents nearly 8% of all applications.
At the same time, it has been estimated that as much as 10% of gross domestic product is spent on healthcare. And around 7.2% of this is accounted for by medical technologies.
Med-tech is big business: the European medical technology market, responsible for about a third of the world market, has been estimated at roughly €110 billion.
What’s more, it’s growing at a phenomenal rate as new technologies, new materials and new ways of delivering health care rapidly coalesce.
In vitro diagnostics is the largest sector, followed closely by cardiology – with both these areas predicted to see around 6% CAGR leading up to 2022.
Below we survey other key areas where med-tech is stridently on the rise.
Global oncology spend is forecast to continue rising and to reach $200 billion by 2022.
Growth is centred on new emergent techniques such as:
- Gene therapy
- 3D cell printing
Key players include:
In the UK alone, the NHS performs over 45 million imaging procedures each year.
- 25 million X-rays
- 5 million ultrasound scans
- 5 million CT scans
- 4 million MRI scans
The UK’s diagnostic imaging equipment market is predicted to reach $2.63 billion by the end of 2020, with key players including:
- Carestream Health Inc
- Fujifilm Holdings
- GE Healthcare
- Philips Healthcare
- Siemens Healthcare
More than 80% of consumers are willing to wear fitness and health technology devices, such as smartwatches, ECG monitors and blood pressure monitors.
The wearable medical device market is forecast to be worth €24.4bn by 2023, with key players including:
- Apple – iWatch
With real-time imaging now available to be used during surgery and other procedures, the increasing uptake of such devices will see the global cardiac imaging software market reaching the $530 million mark by 2023.
Key players include:
- Siemens AG
- Koninklijke Philips
Enter the start-ups
Surveying the UK health tech scene, the Office for Life Science calculates that 80% of the businesses in the industry are SMEs. These employ 23% of the industry total and generate 10% of the turnover.
It seems highly likely that, as these grow and new start-ups join them, their share of employees and turnover will grow.
Information stateside corroborates this with med-tech start-ups appearing in the top 10 industries of the most profitable small businesses – returning an extremely healthy net profit margin of 12.1% on average.
In many ways the rise of the start-up is facilitated by the agility of small businesses to move fast – and in this they are helped greatly by partnering with sophisticated and experienced EMS partners.
At Chemigraphic we offer:
- A highly compliant and engineering-driven service with proactive medical New Product Introduction (NPI)
- Early involvement, right from the design stage, that adds value by identifying opportunities for cost reduction, performance improvement and secure delivery, without ever compromising on quality
- Robust supply chain management with full batch traceability and approved sources
- Sophisticated IFS ERP technology that allows us to track, measure and analyse data throughout the entire manufacturing process
- An in-depth understanding of the strict requirements and regulatory compliance in the medical sector
- A fully ISO 13485 certified service
Five start-ups to watch out for
When it comes to choosing start-ups that are going to disrupt the med tech sector there is no shortage of candidates.
We wouldn’t particularly disagree with any of the choices in the following three lists, even though there is minimal crossover between them.
- Valuer’s Best med-tech start-ups in Europe
- EU Start-up’s 10 European start-ups revolutionising healthcare
- Silicon Republic’s 20 of Europe’s top health and med-tech start-ups
We’ve decided to cast our net narrower and name five start-ups turning heads and profits in the UK and Ireland.
And we’ve picked just one from the five main areas of growth in the sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, the winners are…
Oncology: Kheiron Medical Technologies
According to Breast Cancer Now 62,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. These figures include diagnoses of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), an early form of breast cancer.
Breast cancer survival in the UK is improving, and has doubled in the past 40 years due to a combination of improvements in treatment and care. But earlier detection through screening and a faster diagnosis can still drastically improve these figures further.
The problem is that radiologists are overworked and in short supply.
Kheiron Medical Technologies, a London-based med-tech start-up, founded in 2016 by Dr Peter Kecskemethy and Tobias Rijken, uses machine learning to help radiologists detect early signs of cancer with greater accuracy and faster than ever before.
The start-up has won Best New Radiology Software in the 2019 EuroMinnies and Best AI Product in Health at the CogX 2019 Innovation Awards. Its breast screening product, Mia (Mammography Intelligent Assessment), is the first to receive a CE Mark in deep learning and radiology.
Kheiron has just raised $22 million in a Series A funding round that will be used to scale the already impressive clinical validation of Mia achieved in multi-centre clinical studies. It is already working closely with the U.K. National Health Service (NHS), supported by government funding, to deploy Mia across pilot sites both in England and Scotland. In addition, it has also received funding from the E.U. Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme to scale across the EU.
At present, there are numerous start-ups raising funding to use AI and machine learning to help identify new treatments and diagnoses for other diseases, but Kheiron has achieved significant backing and interest from professional quarters, commercial backers and medical organisations.
Medical wearables: GiveVision
As we’ve highlighted before wearables are set to transform the med-tech field.
As devices and battery requirements reduce in size and data collection becomes more sophisticated, what started as a consumer trend is quickly realising potential in the medical field to monitor patients remotely.
The med-tech start-up we are singling out is taking the concept of wearable glasses, rather than monitoring devices, in a much more successful direction than Google has managed in its consumer-focussed augmented reality glasses.
London-based GiveVision is dedicated to providing innovative solutions that empower blind or visually impaired people to eradicate the barriers that prevent them from experiencing full and independent lives within mainstream society, education and employment.
With over 285 million people blind or visually impaired people across the globe, GiveVision has been working with organisations such as the RLSB, RNC, and centres and societies for the blind to develop a solution for people diagnosed with low vision due to central vision loss (e.g. AMD, Stargate’s) and conditions affecting the whole visual field (e.g. albinism, optic neuritis).
It has already brought a product to market in its software suite that powers smart glasses to be used as eyes for blind people. Specifically, SightPlus is designed to convert visual information into audio cues and vastly magnify visual perspective. The software gives access to printed text, assists the wearer to find a seat on a bus or train, allows them to shop confidently with recognised banknotes, and more – including integration with other smartphone apps for messaging.
Vivasure is based in the heart of Europe’s largest med-tech hub in Galway, Ireland. It makes polymer implants and delivery systems – primarily focused on minimally invasive vessel closure in cardiology, interventional radiology and vascular surgery.
Established in 2009, Vivasure operates a fully-integrated, ISO 13485 certified, R&D and manufacturing facility. In 2016, its first European product – a vascular closure device – attracted investors to back it to the value of over €16 million.
Its patented PerQseal technology promises many further uses, but its lead product is the world’s first fully absorbable, patch-based large-bore percutaneous closure device. This easy-to-use device enables closure of large arteriotomies in transcatheter procedures.
“Closing the artery has been a concern since we started using transcatheter techniques for valve implantation,” says Prof. Horst Sievert, of the Cardiovascular Centre in Frankfurt, Germany. “The PerQseal device is a very innovative solution for closing large holes, and we are enthusiastic to make it part of our armamentarium.”
Similarly, Dr. Saib Khogali of the Heart & Lung Centre in New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, England, commented that: ‘I find the device intuitive and well controlled, which helped me quickly learn how to use the technology safely and successfully. I believe the PerQseal has the potential to be an important large-hole closure device in many TAVR and EVAR patients.”
Imaging and diagnostics: Incereb
Another Irish start-up, this time based in Dublin, has developed a range of paediatric, neonatal and foetal sensors for EEG monitoring that can be applied in minutes, with minimal training.
Incereb has found an innovative solution to attaching EEGs to a baby’s head to determine brain function. At the moment this is a process that takes a lot of time and requires a trained member of staff to oversee the procedure as the process can cause discomfort for the baby.
Founder Jim Roche explains that ‘having worked in neurophysiology for almost 20 years, with almost eight years in paediatrics and neonatal ICU, it was obvious that many NICU devices were simply adult devices scaled down for use on tiny babies. Incereb is the first EEG device of its type to be designed specifically for use on neonates in the NICU. It’s faster to apply, accurate, kinder to the baby, and makes EEG brain monitoring in the NICU available 24/7/365.”
The Incereb design has already gained a strong foothold in America, with FDA approval, and is seeing increasing uptake in the South American market.
The way the device makes neonatal brain monitoring made easy, quick and accurate through its non-invasive application is that it radically simplifies the electrode application into an innovative single electrode array.
This allows nursing staff with minimal training to align the central reference lead to the baby’s scalp, and confidently know that all other electrodes will be symmetrically placed.
Additional services offered now include EEG solutions with real-time support for pharmaceutical, therapeutic device and other research trials. This has already seen ‘Lifelines Neuro Research Services’ to become the global leader in cloud-based EEG for clinical trials requiring brain monitoring. Its solution allows clinical researchers to gain real-time access to data from anywhere in the world. This can significantly reduce turnaround times for video EEG recording and review, helping companies reduce the time-to-market for critical drugs.
General med-tech: Coroflo
Coroflo is a start-up that crosses the boundary between med-tech and consumer devices. It is also a universally-applicable device that was born from a very personal problem.
Here’s Dr. Helen Barry, Co-founder and Chief Research Officer at Coroflo:
‘I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a go but when my son was born he was tiny. The only way to check [his weight] was week to week weigh-in and pre- and post-feed weight checks.
Waiting for results was extremely stressful for me and it was immediately clear that pre- and post-feed weights varied wildly with little accuracy.
My husband Jamie and I searched the market, but no product existed to tell me how much breastmilk my son was getting. And I needed immediate and accurate information!
Jamie coincidentally had worked on flow monitoring in another sector; he had an idea of a ground-breaking technology that could be the answer.’
Although the inspiration was personal – the need was much wider.
In the UK more than 75% of women who start breastfeeding have stopped by six weeks – and by six months only 1% exclusively breastfeed. These sorts of figures are far from unique to the UK.
Even though it has been widely publicised that breastfeeding offers nutritional, immune system, developmental, psychological, social, economic and environmental benefits, many abandon the practice very early on in their child’s life.
The number one reason identified for premature weaning is fear of low supply – given by 60% of women as the main reason for stopping breastfeeding.
Coroflo has developed a breastfeeding shield and monitor, the Coro, which can accurately measure exactly how much breast milk a baby is consuming. It is the first breastfeeding monitor in the world that can give mothers accurate, precise, and real-time data about milk supply.
The patented sensor is non-invasive, easy to use, comfortable and tiny. There is no need for wires or chargers: the unit is completely self-contained. It connects via an app to your phone to monitor feed volumes and store the data. Using cloud-based analytics you can see how your feeds have varied over time and how they compare with other babies of a similar age.
Coroflo has already received Richard Branson’s seal of approval and raised €900,000 in seed funding at a €4 million valuation. It has recently been among the winners the 2019 Google Adopt a Start-up programme and received European Innovation Council funding.
Med-tech and consumer tech: cross fertilisation
As can be seen in many of the start-ups we have highlighted there is a fluidity between tech innovation in consumer devices and those in med-tech.
Sometimes the waters of change flow one way, and at other times the flow is reversed.
A recent Deloitte report suggests that relationships between consumer and med-tech companies, may increasingly flourish. Partnerships between the two sectors could help successful medical OEMs ensure that data collected from the hardware is enriched by data collected from consumer devices.
According to this authoritative report:
‘What could separate med-tech companies apart from each other will be their ability to harness data gathered by their devices and use it to improve well-being, anticipate health issues, and help patients change the day-to-day behaviours that affect their health. Access to consumer-generated data (non-health data that leads to health insights) … can give some technology companies an advantage over established med-tech companies.’
We believe that this cross-fertilisation will develop – and to some extent already has developed – beyond data.
Innovations in medical devices will find uses in new consumer products and vice versa.
And we can expect start-ups, working alongside agile EMS partners, to be at the forefront of grasping these opportunities.