Innovation from Kuopio, ECG jewelry, reliably detects arrhythmias
Excellence in international medical and biosignal processing as well as local jewelry design were combined with the idea of entrepreneur Helena Jäntti. With the help of the network, a service was created that can be used to reliably identify arrhythmias and streamline the guidance of arrhythmia patients to treatment.
Heart2Save is a Kuopio-based health technology company founded in 2015, whose core competence is the development of medical devices and software aimed at identifying arrhythmias. The founder of the company is Helena Jäntti, a primary care physician and researcher at Kuopio University Hospital, who has seen the consequences of patients’ arrhythmias in her work.
Globally, up to one-fifth of people have a cerebral infarction before old age (age 65) and up to 40% of these are caused by atrial fibrillation. In Finland, cerebral infarction is diagnosed in up to 18,000 people every year.
“We started with a clinical need, to make a product for risk groups. A medical device that would easily detect atrial fibrillation and allow the user to seek treatment well in advance, thus preventing the complications associated with atrial fibrillation, of which stroke is the most significant. ” Jäntti says.
From idea to product development with the right partners
The journey from idea to commercial product has been a long one. Helena Jäntti emphasizes the importance of finding the right partners and experts on the journey of a medical device from idea to product. The first steps in the right direction were cooperation with physicists at the University of Eastern Finland, who built algorithms to identify arrhythmias. The AiVoni analysis service was born, which can be used to analyze the heart rhythm and generate an ECG report for each measurement.
Cooperation with Suunto, which has experience in the development of sports watches and heart rate monitors for more than 80 years, started in 2017.
“Cooperation with Suunto was started to find a sensor that would be suitable for measuring at home and would serve as a source of reliable information. The enormous size of the equipment used in hospital environments did not even come into question in this case. ”
A collaboration between a strong and experienced international player and university researchers created a product that can detect atrial fibrillation at home.
Local cooperation leads to a design product
A revolutionary step was the collaboration with Saurum Oy and Lumoava, which started in 2019, which led to the birth of a new generation ECG jewelry. Combining the know-how of a well-known design jewelry brand with health technology gave birth to a completely new kind of medical device that travels unobtrusively with the user both in everyday life and at work. The product will be available on the market in early 2021 after the licensing process and branding have been completed.
“People don’t necessarily want to be stigmatized as sick. A medical device designed as jewelry was a good solution to this challenge. ” Jäntti says.
Product validation in the international scientific community
The safety, fit for purpose and performance of a medical device must always be demonstrated before the device can be certified and put up for sale. The process is often lengthy and considerably expensive. The Finnish scientific community was used for the clinical validation of Heart2Save’s innovation, and the results were also published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. According to Helena Jäntti, the solution has required a lot of guidance for thesis workers, but it has been an effective way to get both young enthusiastic scientists into their network and to present research results at European cardiology congresses. At the same time, the innovation has also gained a lot of international visibility.
Cooperation in regions´s networks
Know-how and entrepreneurship related to welfare technologies have been growing in Pohjois-Savo region in recent years. Welfare technology is also one of the smart specialisation priorities identified in Pohjois-Savo. The Kuopio Health cooperative, which is an open innovation ecosystem that operates in the region, promotes know-how, research and business life in the health, well-being and nutrition sector. The cooperative is one of the clusters identified by the European Cluster Cooperation Platform, which supports its members in internationalization.
Helena Jäntti and Heart2Save have been involved in developing the region´s innovation ecosystem and have been among the first customers involved with Kuopio University hospital’s Living Lab and the National Neuroscience centre. All in all, the purpose of the region’s network is to provide a wide range of support and product development and testing services to companies in the field of health technology. According to Jäntti, the company’s story is marked by the courage to do and try and to talk about things openly and directly. Many things have been tried in recent years, such as the pitching in the ski lift in the Tahko Ski Lift Pitch event in 2017 for private equity investors.
Now that a long and expensive phase of product development is behind us, Helena Jäntti envisions for her company with a twinkle in her eye, quoting the Bible, seven obese years. In the future, the German market, where the digitalisation of healthcare is on the rise, will be a big boost. Plan is to increase export expertise through export training, the contents of which have already been discussed with the actors in the region. What ever it will require to take this next step, lack of courage will certainly not be in the way this time either.