What a boost of energy and inspiration! The Circle of Influencers of StartupDelta had advised our Prime-Minister Mark Rutte to stay in the loop of what is happening in the startup world. The first event was held in February on FinTech. This week he invited a second group of founders to meet him in his office around the question: How to improve healthcare for society. Some amazing concepts, business models and groundbreaking innovations were displayed in the beautiful historic rooms of the Ministry of General Affairs.
By the way: it wasn’t easy to make a choice, because of the abundance of talent and ideas in the Netherlands on e-health, m-health, but also biosciences, for instance. Just have a look what Rockstart has to offer, with Maarten den Braber in charge of e-health and with the energy Lucien Engelen is developing the area around Nijmegen. Our initial list of possible startup candidates nominated by the regional hubs consisted of at least sixty startups! And already this was a shortlist.
The final five; Night Balance Eline Vrijland-van Beest, Adjuvo Motion Gijs den Butter, G-Therapeutics Sjaak Deckers, Tinybots Wang Long Li, Tandartsbon (Zesty) Sinan Belhawi and ThromboDx Tom Würdinger had the opportunity to present their innovative ideas and showcase their products to the Prime-Minister and Neelie Kroes.
In total they covered an amazing range in the healthcare sector and with innovations of great importance. For instance how you can detect cancer at an early stage – and even the type of cancer- just via one single drop of blood (Tom). Just imagine how this would impact breast cancer surveys or make it possible to tackle cancer at a very early stage with a higher chance on curing patients. Especially when this technology is combined with the power of computers to calculate data. Internet giants like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates involved Tom in their Grail project. Joe Biden sees opportunities for ThromboDx as part of his ‘moonshot’ project to cure cancer. Or having a very effective and proven method to handle a Sleep apnea (Eline). Eline was happy to announce that she had acquired a funding round of 10 million in the Netherlands. Or improving the life of people who are paralyzed below the waist (Sjaak) and introducing ‘friendly” robots to make the lives of demented people more comfortable (Wang) as well as making appointments in the healthcare system easier and more efficient (Sinan). All impressive ways to improve healthcare and the lives of people.
They also shared their experiences with us. The Netherlands could really make some steps forward when it is about the availability of funding for the larger rounds. StartupDelta therefore is working on a growth fund which should persuade international investors to come to the Netherlands
Also, the healthcare system should be able to be more flexible to deal with innovations. Quite a lot of the existing conditions and regulations make the introduction of innovations – unintentionally – difficult. If the Netherlands really wants to prove what it is worth, when it is about providing the testbed (which sounds rather funny in this context) environment for groundbreaking innovations for healthcare, this is the opportunity! Insurance companies should embrace this prospect. The Dutch Ministry of Healthcare has a very active policy on involving startups in healthcare, and this could be their Moonshot!
At the same time the startups present at this informal meeting remind us that the innovative climate of the Netherlands is something to be cherished. For example, countries like Japan come to the Netherlands to learn about social innovation linked to technique in robotics. We are an example for other countries by the beautiful and innovating healthcare innovations which are achieved in the Netherlands. Also certain innovation instruments from the government attracted G-Therapeutics to choose for the Netherlands.
In addition, StartupDelta has an open line of communication with the Dutch Ministry of Finance in order to create more appealing fiscal regulations for startups with the aim of attracting (foreign) talent and investments so startups can become scale ups.
Furthermore, Neelie has written a letter to the Dutch Parliament to ask them to do their utmost to influence the new legislation on public procurement and to make the procedures open to startups.
More about all that in the next coming weeks. For now, stay healthy and fit!
Neelie Kroes, Special Envoy for Startups
Sigrid Johannisse, director StartupDelta