From a startup creating a nutritional game for tamariki to non-invasive ventilation support technology for people with Covid-19 and other Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) conditions, nine startups with innovative healthcare solutions have been selected into the HealthTech Challenge pre-accelerator programme.
Powered by ChristchurchNZ and delivered by Ministry of Awesome, the HealthTech Challenge aims to identify and support New Zealand’s most promising ideas and innovations with global commercial potential that solve real healthcare problems.
This year, the challenge focuses on three key areas: 1) innovations that can drive efficiency and equity through the use of digital technologies and data; 2) innovations that have the potential to advance Māori and Pacific health equity; and 3) improving accessibility for those with disabilities or who face challenges accessing services.
At the end of the programme one startup will be offered a $5,000 innovation grant, sponsored by Te Papa Hauora, for support towards commercialising their venture. This will be decided by a panel at the final pitch day in July 2022.
With 35 registrations submitted by health tech professionals, researchers and innovators across the country, the programme partners have been delighted with the quality of applications, both in the breadth of sectors and the depth of technological innovation. Though we were looking for only eight startups, the cohort size was expanded to nine due to the high quality of applications received.
Each of the selected nine have a solid value proposition which will be further developed through the Challenge. The nine finalists are (in no particular order):
- EverYellow – a mindset training app helps develop mental fitness by listening to podcast-like audio sessions.
- SouthMed – a non-invasive ventilation hood that can provide advanced breathing support for people with Covid-19 and other Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome conditions.
- Inflammation Information – a simple and sensitive dipstick test to measure inflammation for inflammatory bowel disease patients.
- Nutriblocks – an EdTech company that develops engaging, entertaining, and educational games for health.
- Vibration Action – a smart workplace glove technology that measures vibration from powered hand tools and machinery at the point of contact.
- Bird and a Bee – a safe, virtual space to break down barriers and reduce the stigma surrounding reproductive and sexual health for young New Zealand wahine.
- WellNow – a booking application for last-minute health and wellness appointments.
- re:Yesterday – an app which patients can use to prevent the further development of dementia.
- Diagnostic tool for respiratory illnesses – an ultra-low-cost home-based test and diagnostic tool for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and chronic respiratory disease (COPD) patients.
The seven-week pre-accelerator programme, starts on the 12th of May and provides startups with the opportunity to work through all aspects of their venture. They will be able to answer critical business questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers, with an end goal of validating their ideas and progressing toward commercial readiness.
“The nine challenge finalists showcase the full breadth of future-focused health innovation work being undertaken in Canterbury, from digital health and wellbeing applications to medical devices. In collaboration with our partners the Challenge will support these innovators to commercialise their ideas, solve real problems, and have a positive impact on the future of New Zealand healthcare.” says Boyd Warren, General Manager of Innovation and Business Growth at ChristchurchNZ.
Throughout the programme startups will receive mentoring support from healthTech founders within the Icehouse Ventures portfolio’, Edmund Hillary Fellows with healthtech industry expertise, and the expert advisors from within the Te Ōhaka startup hub. The selected teams will also have the opportunity to meet and share their ideas with leaders of the burgeoning healthtech and healthcare industry in Ōtautahi Christchurch.
“We are looking forward to working alongside these fantastic innovators to help them create their world class healthtech ventures. Tech innovation is already a fantastic export for the New Zealand economy and healthtech is a sector Aotearoa is already showing a talent for developing especially from right here in Ōtautahi Christchurch, says Marian Johnson, Chief Awesome Officer at Ministry of Awesome.
The HealthTech Challenge has uncovered excellent innovation with the potential to make a positive global impact. With the expert support from programme partners, Via Innovations and Te Papa Hauora, the selected startups have been given a launchpad from which to grow global-leading innovative businesses – all from here in Ōtautahi Christchurch, a growing seedbed for health education, research and innovation in New Zealand.