The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented health and societal crisis for many of us across the world. Its death toll estimates place it among history’s deadliest plagues. Despite having much more advanced economic, healthcare, and technological systems, our infrastructure once more crumbled in the face of a fast-spreading, dangerous virus.
And with scientists warning about the rising threat of zoonoses and thus new outbreaks in our lifetime, no one wants to repeat the disruption and damage of the last one. So, the question becomes: how do we prevent the next disease outbreak from becoming a deadly pandemic?
In response, the research and innovation community, composed of academic institutes, startups, and business R&D hubs, have been actively working on new products and running tests during the past years. Solutions for preventing the next pandemic such as e-health and telemedicine, drug research, better diagnosis, predictive analytics, therapeutic antibodies, and medical isolators hold the promise of mitigating the intensity and spread of the next outbreak.
Below, we bring under one list several of these innovative healthcare solutions developed by startups and companies across the world.
Health tech solutions preventing the next pandemic from CEE and Israel
Founders: Honorata Hafke-Dys, Jędrzej Kociński
Vertical: AI, medical devices, telemedicine
Solution: StethoMe offers an AI-based stethoscope intended for home use by patients. The solution can detect abnormalities in the cardiologic and respiratory system and communicate the results via a dedicated app. It thus works as an early prevention tool for a potential future epidemic or pandemic, helping limit the risk of a virus spread and the need for a face-to-face consultation.
Funding: So far, they raised a total of $7.9M across various rounds, including a $2.5M Series A.
HQ: US, with team and offices in Israel
Founders: Ron Karidi, Sagie Davidovich
Vertical: AI, predictive analytics, data science, clinical trials
Solution: SparkEbyon’s vision is to help solve the world’s biggest problems by harnessing humanity’s collective intelligence. They use AI and large-scale computing to find complex patterns in data, with applications in healthcare, but also life sciences, energy, or finance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they launched an AI-based solution displaying heatmaps with real-time data on potential outbreaks in cities around the world. Currently, they serve pharmaceutical companies with streamlining clinical trials, expanding the drug discovery universe, and reaching patients with precision.
Funding: The company has raised a seed-stage round.
Name: HealthCode AI
Founders: Mart Levo
Vertical: AI, medical devices, diagnosis
Solution: HealthCode AI’s web based application, LEIA Analytics, equips physicians with a tool that prepares a detailed overview of the patient’s submitted data. The tool analyzes the symptoms and creates a list of potential diagnoses, working as a pre-evaluation tool. During times of crisis when healthcare professionals are under pressure, the tool can help manage their patients better and save time.
Funding: The company is backed by Norway grants and EAS Enterprise Estonia.
Founders: Gur Ilany, Guy Doron
Vertical: mental health, apps
Solution: The company’s mental health app was created by a clinical therapist in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The tool aims to help users heighten mental resilience by improving thought processes, confidence, and mood, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Funding: The company has raised $100,000.
Founders: Slavomír Hruška, František Kudlačák, Denis Čapkovič
Vertical: telemedicine, diagnosis
Solution: The company developed a portable diagnostics medical system that can improve access to primary healthcare in remote areas. The device uses smart sensors, AI, and a digital patient database, which allow healthcare providers to communicate, visualize, and monitor patient data remotely.
Funding: They raised €1.82M from VCs and business angels.
Health tech solutions preventing the next pandemic from around the world
Founders: Emmanuel Ezenwere
Vertical: AI, robotics, automation, drones
Solution: Arone’s mission is to help enable access to amenities necessary for a better life with the use of technology. The company offers an autonomous drone infrastructure for hospitals, clinics, and other medical centers, to speed up the delivery of vital medical products. Drones can in this way make possible the contactless and fast delivery of critical medical supplies during an endemic or pandemic.
Funding: The company has raised $1.6M in pre-seed funding.
Founders: a group of doctors at the Oslo University Hospital (OUS) together with co-founders Inven2, Eker Group AS and Hansen Protection AS
Vertical: medical devices, medical isolator
Solution: The company produces specialized isolation units – EpiShuttles – that ensure a safe transportation of infected patients to the destination, in order to prevent an epidemic. It is aimed at both high-risk scenarios and every-day practice.
Funding: The company has received a grant of $4.1M.
President: Erika Modina
Vertical: health policy and systems research, analytics
Solution: EpiMetrics is a health research institution founded in 2015 with a diverse portfolio of intelligence solutions. They offer an analytics-based system that helps detect epidemic outbreaks in real time. It consists of a visualization dashboard and heatmaps to illustrate the extent and magnitude of the spread.
Name: Akara Robotics
Co-founders: Conor McGinn (CEO), Niamh Donnelly, Michael Cullinan, Eamonn Bourke, Cian Donovan
Vertical: medical devices, robots
Solution: Akara Robotics is a spin-out of Trinity College Dublin, originating in the team’s research on the sterilization properties of UV light. After the COVID-19 outbreak, the company pivoted to building a robot that uses UV light to disinfect hospital rooms and thus prevent the virus from spreading.
Funding: They received a $2.9M grant.
Founders: Dr Tim Guilliams (CEO), Dr Andreas Bender, Dr David Brown
Vertical: drug research, AI
Solution: Healx is on a mission to pioneer the next generation of drug discovery and help treat rare diseases around the world, knowing that only 5% of conditions have an approved treatment. They combine AI with drug discovery and development expertise. During the pandemic, Healx started using its AI platform to uncover potential combinations of treatments for COVID-19 based on drugs already on the market.
Funding: They raised a $56M Series B.
Name: Memo Therapeutics
Founders: Christoph Esslinger
Vertical: therapeutic antibodies, antibody discovery
Solution: The company is a spin-out of ETH Zurich, which focuses on the discovery of therapeutic antibody candidates and target discovery of antibody and vaccine development. To that end, they use fast microfluidic single-cell molecular cloning and screening technologies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they worked on identifying antibodies that could neutralize the virus.
Funding: They raised a $24.9M Series B.
Name: Virustatic Shield
HQ: United Kingdom
Vertical: antiviral mask
Solution: The company created a 360 degree snood style mask which reduces the escape of virus-laden aerosols around the sides, compared to traditional masks. The mask has a natural, antiviral coating, is reusable and washable, and stems from over 12 years of research and development by Virustatic, a company developing protein-based antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal textile coating.
Funding: The latest financing for the company came from an award of £150,000 from the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology.
Founders: Christine Schindler, Dutch Waanders
Vertical: medical devices, prevention tools
Solution: The PathSpot System is a scanner that uses light-based spectroscopy to detect harmful contaminants that are causing common illnesses. The feedback is immediately shown on the screen upon using the system.
Funding: The company raised a $6.5 million Series A from VCs and $10.6M in total.