Estonia is well-known for its ecosystem approach and digitalized healthcare is no exception. One of the most impactful stakeholders in the area is Health Founders accelerator, which already incubated dozens of founders that are aiming to change medical treatment and preventive medicine. Yet it’s not the whole story.
Besides leading the Health Founders accelerator, Siim Saare is a founder himself. He describes himself as a former corporate CEO turned startup entrepreneur, who after almost fifteen years of working for global brands, wanted to continue in the technology and venture space. But on only one condition – to make an impact. “I believe that we need more people from different professional backgrounds to help build the new health economy. Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the world and it will go through a significant transformation over the next decade,” says Saare.
Aiming at the most global problem possible
Saare’s startup Activate Health is creating a solution to predict and prevent heart disease, and this year it already reached Sifted’s “15 digital therapeutic startups to watch” list. Activate Health’s ambitions aren’t modest, quite the contrary – it’s looking to solve a major global problem, as heart disease is the world’s most abounding silent killer and a major burden on healthcare systems worldwide. With 18 million or 32% of all deaths annually – more than all cancers combined – it is now called a global silent epidemic.
“Cardiovascular disease is of special significance in Estonia as the major cause of premature deaths, with the consequence that Estonia has one of the lowest levels of healthy life years in the EU. We decided to take action and brought together a team of experienced Estonian doctors, scientists, and engineers with a common belief that the future of healthcare is more personalised, predictive and preventive. We are a science-based technology company that runs clinical trials with a mission to extend the human health span on a global scale,” says Saare.
“In 2022, we received a grant of 1 million euros from the Enterprise Estonia Applied Research Programme to develop our digital therapeutic platform together with the University of Tartu, Estonian Biobank and SYNLAB. The solution will help identify elevated cardiovascular risks as early as possible and monitor and manage specific risk factors such as elevated cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure or obesity. This year, we got accepted to the highly acclaimed Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust accelerator to bring our technology to the UK market.”
According to the World Health Organisation, one in four adults, i.e. 1.5 billion people, live with elevated cardiovascular risk, in many cases without realising it. This is because most of the risk factors associated with heart disease don’t have visible symptoms until a major cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke happens.
This means that inevitably, most of us will be touched by this topic sooner or later, either directly or in our families. Although 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable, there is a lack of evidence-based digital solutions that would help people identify the potential risk before symptoms appear and intervene in time, before a more serious health problem or lifelong chronic disease develops.