The Healthtech VC, hosted by Dr Fiona Pathiraja, features conversations with ambitious startups, outstanding investors and visionary leaders in the healthtech space.
Fiona is Managing Partner at Crista Galli Ventures, a pan-European, healthtech-specific VC fund investing in early stage companies building the future of healthcare.
S2 012: Rachael Grimaldi. Bringing healthcare communication into the 21st Century. 🏥🗣👩🏼⚕️
Dr Rachael Grimaldi is an anaesthetist in the NHS who founded Card Medic at the beginning of the pandemic. Rachael noticed that the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) used to shield all health workers during covid brought massive communication barriers with it. With doctors and nurses gowned-up, masked and covered head to toe, patients struggled to see, hear and understand them. Card Medic is a digital tool developed to close the gap in communication. Its success during the pandemic ensured its post-pandemic success in a variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, ambulances and more.
Hospitals are unique places which bring anxiety and stress to patients where good communication is imperative. Communication in healthcare is much more than just translation services for patients who don’t speak the primary language of the health system. It also encompasses patients with cognitive impairment, sight loss, hearing loss, autism, and other barriers to communication. We also touch on communication in the context of health literacy, its impact on health outcomes and the social mission of Card Medic developing Tech for Good.
Award-winning Card Medic’s success has been covered internationally including in the BBC and The Guardian. They have also done three accelerators in the US and UK (The Hill, Mass Challenge and Texas Medical Centre) and Rachael gives her perspective of these accelerators from the background of a non-business founder. We touch on whether clinical founder can work effectively in a startup whilst still maintaining some clinical work and how Rachael effectively manages a portfolio career in the NHS.
S2 011: Matthew Beatty. Building a digital surgical clinic & health coaching for surgical patients pre- and post-op. 📲🏥🫁
Originally a doctor, Matthew Beatty was always drawn to the world of entrepreneurship, founding his first company in property technology (proptech). He then became an operator in the healthtech world by joining Huma, then called Medopad. Matt was the clinical lead of Huma’s commercial team.
Sapien are a digital clinic run via a mobile app which helps patients to prepare for surgery by optimising their physical and mental health. They also provide post-operative support which enables reduced complication rates and improved patient experience and outcomes. 10million operations are carried out each year in the NHS alone. Sapien’s health coaching approach involves the patient in the decision-making process and gets them to engage more and have ownership of their health. Sapein are consciously working to improve the health coaching aspect with continuous iterative improvement based on both qualitative and quantitative feedback.
We touch on the surgical market and peri-operative space and note that most innovation is happening on the surgeon or medtech side, with less innovation happening at the level of the patient. However, with the pandemic causing huge surgical backlogs, innovation is needed across the surgical value chain. Matt provides tips for working with the NHS, disucsses Sapien’s experience of Amazon’s AWS digital health accelerator and explains his process for writing some of the best and most regular investor updates that I receive.
S2 010: Lucy Jung. Building global healthtech for Parkinson’s patients. 🇬🇧📳🇰🇷
From academia at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art, to bringing back smiles for patients with Parkinson’s disease, Lucy Jung is the founder of Charco Neurotech.
Parkinsons’ Disease is the fastest growing neurodenerative disease in the world. Although the idea that vibration makes PD symptoms better has been around since the 19th century, it is only today that technology has caught up with ideas and Charco are building a hardware solution called CUE1 to leverage this idea. The patient sticks the small CUE1 device onto their chest (sternum) from where it sends vibrations to the patient’s body. These timed vibrations create ‘neuromodulation’ within the patient’s nervous system, helping to improve the way Parkinson’s patients feel and reducing their motor symptoms.
Alongside the medical device, Charco are building an app for symptom and medication tracking to help Parkinson’s patients and their families. Lucy touches on raising a large $10M seed round and building a team in South Korea and the UK and the cultural challenges it poses. We also discuss testing the product prior to general global release, supply chain issues in the pandemic, co-creating solutions with the Parkinson’s patient community and the regulations required to get a medical device to market globally.
Building a hardware company in healthtech is hard and Charco are tackling this challenge head on. I hope you enjoy this conversation.
S2 009: Astrid Gyllenkrok Kristensen. Digitalising the post-partum period. 👩🏻🍼📲🇸🇪
With a background of digital innovation at CNN and ViaPlay in Sweden and social impact startup, Astrid Gyllenkrok Kristensen’s story to healthtech starts from a personal, lived experience. Having had three children, she found that in Sweden, she had access to great healthcare support during her pregnancies. However, once the child was delivered, she was left alone, without support. She realised this wasn’t just a problem for her or her community, rather a global issue. This is where the idea of LEIA health started – to provide comprehensive support for the mother and family during the post-partum period, the time after the birth, which can be up to 1 year. LEIA is the world’s first digital post-partum tracker, ensuring the mother checks in to assess her mental, physical and sleep health.
Post-partum care globally varies in terms of care delivered to the woman. However, it is universally offline. LEIA want to digitalise the post-partum period and build a comprehensive dataset around health outcomes during the post-partum period. All whilst destigmatising the shame that women might feel around health issues such as vaginal or perineal tears, postnatal depression and a breakdown in relations with their partner. Astrid also touches on how LEIA are building a medically-validated and data-driven solution, her approach to raising a pre-seed round (including LEIAs investor Whatsapp group) and her experience of being part of both the Fast Track Malmö accelerator and Norrsken’s accelerator in Stockholm.
I also got to reminisce about my time as an NHS radiologist where I have done many endo-a**l ultrasound scans on women who have torn their perineum during delivery. I was struck when speaking to these women that they often had no idea about how to deal with the physical and mental strain of post-birth injuries or how to deal with the feelings of shame that some of them felt during this period. This real-life frontline experience is what led me to invest in LEIA health and their mission to digitalise the post-partum experience.
S2 008: Christoph Ruedig. Investing in healthtech at AlbionVC. 🏥📲💸
A former radiologist turned investor, Christoph Ruedig discusses his journey to healthtech from medical school and radiology to management consulting, an MBA from Insead and now being Partner at AlbionVC. One of the original doctor-turned-investors, Christoph has been investing for over a decade since the days that healthtech was called healthcare I.T. !
We discuss Albion, a venture capital fund manager with circa £850M in assets under management and their investing thesis. Christoph highlights a couple of AlbionVC’s healthtech portfolio companies. We also touch on what makes a good board, the benefits of doing an MBA and what healthtech companies should think about in a market downturn.
As another radiologist-turned-investor, I have found Christoph to be an inspiration and support to me. I hope you enjoy this conversation.
S2 007: Mohamed Taha. Revolutionising male fertility at Mojo. 🔬🤖💦
With a deep technical background including a PhD in nanotechnology, Mohamed Taha ended up in the healthtech world after a health issue led him to have a sperm count done. He realised that sperm analysis was non-automated and non-standardised.
A true entrepreneur, Mo became obsessed with the idea of making sperm analysis more accurate using AI. He flew to meet the world’s most famous sperm researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and spent a month convincing him to advise Mojo on how to measure sperm using AI. Today Mojo have built a computer vision system within a smart microscope which uses AI to accurately analyse sperm. Their test takes 4 mins to complete. Mojo offer a direct-to-consumer package which allows men to do a sperm sample at home and have it tested accurately, with results sent to them with post-analysis medical support available to them.
Mo touches on the areas of friction within the patient journey and how Mojo plans to ease these pain points. From standardisation and automation to personalisation and building a data repository on sperm analysis, Mojo has a very ambitious roadmap working across the whole value chain of fertility. They want to make fertility care efficient, affordable, reliable and accessible. Unlocking the secrets of the sperm and its acrosomes could help with future gene therapies and finding root causes for those having multiple miscarriages and one day we might use sperm as a biomarker.
As someone who has been working in this space since 2017, Mo knows the male fertility journey and the fertility clinics’ workflow inside out. The fertility tech space is traditionally building solutions from the female (femtech) perspective. Mo touches on male mental health, I don’t think I have had quite as much fun recording a podcast as this one and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Scientific abbreviations and definitions used in this podcast: IVF = in vitro fertilisation, ICSI = Intracytsoplasmic sperm injection, Acrosome = special part of the sperm contained within the head of the sperm.
Incredibly insightful and informative
As a relative newcomer to the healthtech space, I appreciate this podcast because it is both informative and accessible. For those wanting to learn more about the healthtech space, I’d highly recommend!
Insightful, inspirational podcast!
Great variety of guests - fascinating to hear their warts and all stories and how they’ve ultimately succeeded in the Healthtech space.
Valuable content and outstanding speakers
I’d highly recommend this podcast to those who want to learn more about the digital health sector and some of the groundbreaking companies in the health tech space.