A unique research accelerator for health technology is starting up

The University of Tartu, Tartu Science Park, Tallinn University of Technology, and Tehnopol Science and Business Park have jointly launched a Health Research Accelerator with a programme of developing health technologies and services, following a commission from the small fund manager SmartCap.

The inauguration event for the research accelerator at the University of Tartu yesterday took the first step towards achieving one of the biggest goals of the project, which is to map the ecosystem of health technologies in order to understand the needs, bottlenecks and opportunities of the sector.

“Within this project we plan to combine our excellent startup ecosystem, investor communities, research institutions, and state decision-makers”, said Kristel Reim, Head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation of the University of Tartu.

Cooperation will help identify the bottlenecks

The Covid-19 pandemic of the past couple of years has made it clear that there is still room for development in healthcare technology in communications, diagnostics, combinations of different technologies, and much more. Researching the ecosystem will above all help in understanding the problems that the accelerator programme aimed at startups will have to solve, gaining inputs from hospitals, investors, universities, clients and others.

“It is hard to underestimate the role of the research accelerator aimed at healthcare technologies within the Estonian startup ecosystem. The Tehnopol Startup Incubator supports some 100 new companies a year that are moving to become ready for investors, and it is good to see that there are more and more research-intensive teams among them. We are inviting all university research teams and startups focusing on healthcare technology from Estonia and neighbouring countries to come to the ideas day in Tallinn on 19 April, where we will discuss the trends in the sector and the exact role of the research accelerator”, said Kadri Tammai, Head of the Tehnopol Startup Incubator.

The programme will involve those with the greatest potential

“The healthcare research accelerator will help bring together expert researchers, tireless start-up businesses, and vibrant academic professionals specialising in business and product development. The accelerator is perhaps not entirely the right concept to use here. This will be a uniquely tailored suit, with a programme that goes deep into the substance of early-phase ideas, and works with those behind the ideas to find ways of developing the most waterproof plan for how that idea can lead to world-class products or services”, explained Rainis Venta, project manager for the accelerator at Tallinn University of Technology.

The research accelerator programme aims to identify research discoveries with commercial potential and bring them to a high level of technological readiness. Teams and startups participating in the programme can receive 17,000 euros in support to achieve this. There will also be events held during the project in Tallinn and Tartu that will help identify teams and initiatives from universities and develop their products or services.

Andrus Kurvits, a member of the management of Tartu Science Park, said that the programme is open for companies with: “solutions that come under healthcare technology and address major and important issues in e-health, biotechnology, genetics, and the health and medicine-based economy. Teams that join the health research accelerator programme will receive practical business development and investor readiness services and meetings, and financial support in developing a business plan for prototypes”.

 

The University of Tartu is the oldest and largest university operating in Estonia. Forty-two of its researchers are among the 1% most-cited researchers around the world, and there are more than 14,000 students at the University. It has been actively involved in developing research-intensive and high-technology companies since the late 1990s. It by now has 57 spin-off companies employing over 500 top specialists. The sales turnover of those companies exceeds 40 million euros a year.

Tallinn University of Technology is the only technical university in Estonia, and is the flagship of education for engineers and technical specialists in Estonia. The success of education at the university comes from the synergy between the technical, natural, exact, economic and health sciences that creates the conditions in which new ideas are born. The university has launched and been engaged in a range of programmes like the business ideas competition, Adapter and Prototron, which support enterprise and innovation, and give backing to the entrepreneurship of students and university staff, and support cooperation with businesses.

The Tartu Science Park has been a home to technology and research-intensive business for 30 years. The mission of the Tartu Science Park as a support structure for innovation is to aid in the creation, development and activity of research and technology-intensive businesses by providing infrastructure and business development services in the Tartu region.

Tehnopol is one of the largest science and business parks in northern Europe and its goal is to help create world-changing technology companies and to promote their growth in Estonia and their expansion into foreign markets. It provides comprehensive facilities from commercial real estate to targeted business development services in its focus areas of research-intensive enterprise, smart-city technologies, green technology, and healthcare technology.