Up and coming companies top the healthtech market

28 January, 2019

Two markets stood out when the students at the School of Economics, Business and Law in Gothenburg analysed four customer segments for startup companies within healthtech. But the increasingly important networks have no limits.

TEXT: LIZELOTTE EDVINSSON

At the moment, there is a strong growing international demand for digital health solutions. It’s buzzing with energy and engagement in the room where 30 masters students from the School of Economics, Business and Law at the University of Gothenburg are presenting their project work that will contribute to the development of the future internationalisation support at Sahlgrenska Science Park.

Four groups have developed proposals based on startup companies within healthtech and their primary customer segments: elderly care, hospitals, primary care and the consumer market.

“The students have done a fantastic job and the project is a good example of how collaboration with the universities is rewarding for both parties,” says Erik Heimer Berglund, business advisor in healthtech and internationalisation at Sahlgrenska Science Park.

Internationalisation is a must for Swedish companies within healthtech and the sooner a company engages in international activities, the more likely it is to succeed internationally in the long term. Sahlgrenska Science Park supports companies in this process and has a well-developed collaboration and network in the Nordic region and the UK. These markets were therefore not included in the project.

The Netherlands is up and coming

The reports show a strong growing international demand for digital health solutions. Now, there are well-founded analyses for the various customer segments. An overall conclusion is that the Netherlands and Germany emerged as top-ranked markets in all the reports.

This surprises Mikael Hilmersson, associate professor and senior lecturer at the School of Economics, Business and Law in Gothenburg.

“Whether you are interested in hospitals, primary care, elderly care or consumers, the Netherlands and Germany seem to have a very attractive potential,” says Mikael Hilmersson.

“The reports identify key players who can open doors to the networks in these markets, even if the players themselves are not always in the country in question. This is something that confirms the research’s view of cross-border networks as central to internationalisation efforts.”

Sebastian Eidhall was one of the students who participated in the project. He focused on the consumer market segment, where the Netherlands became the final market.

“I thought for a long time that Germany would rank better, so the Netherlands was a real surprise,” says Sebastian Eidhall.

International perspective needed from the beginning

Mikael Hilmersson believes that the most important conclusions reached by the students are that measures promoting internationalisation should be integrated early in the development of the companies. He emphasises that Sahlgrenska Science Park and similar actors have an important role to play here.

He also points out that measures promoting internationalisation have traditionally focused on countries and regions, and that there may be reasons to re-evaluate this. Instead of starting to think internationally after the product or service has been established in the domestic market, there is much to suggest that the international dimension should already be considered when the business models are developed.

“The research shows that multinational companies, networks and global value chains are central to startup company looking to expand internationally. Creating relationships with the right players can in many cases open the doors to a global market.”

Image: Some of the students from International Business and Trade at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. From left: Maja Karlsson, Sara Nilsson, Sebastian Eidhall, Ludvig Axfjord, Fredrik Rydqvist, Melina Amel Sayyah, Alina Erlandsson and Ivana Aračić.

Facts:

The project work titled Catalyzing the International Expansion of Healthtech Startups ran for five weeks with the master’s students at International Business and Trade at The School of Business, Law and Trade at the University of Gothenburg. The work was led by senior lecturer Mikael Hilmersson and senior lecturer Niklas Åkerman.