AI Healthcare Innovations in Europe – An Overview of Startups and Innovation

Ayn de Jesus

Ayn serves as AI Analyst at Emerj - covering artificial intelligence use-cases and trends across industries. She previously held various roles at Accenture.

AI Healthcare Innovations in Europe - An Overview of Startups and Innovation

Accenture forecasts that growth in the AI healthcare market is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021 from $600 million in 2014, growing at an annual compound rate of 40%. We’ve covered AI in healthcare extensively on TechEmergence, but in this report we’ll be looking at four European companies offering more niche solutions for both business and consumers in the healthcare space. We found that these solutions are intended to help CPG companies with at least one of the following business problems:

  • Providing information on symptoms
  • Fertility awareness
  • Prioritizing patient care
  • Genetic testing

What Business Leaders in Europe’s Healthcare Industry Should Know

All of the companies listed in this report are supported by PhD-level talent in hard science, which is the most important trust signal we look for when determining the legitimacy of a company’s AI software. Interestingly, however, none of these executives hold computer science or related degrees.

It’s possible that this indicates a greater need for subject matter expertise when it comes to building AI software for healthcare than for other industries. Oftentimes in industries such as insurance and banking, the CTO or executive in charge of building the machine learning model behind the software their companies offer holds a degree in machine learning or computer science generally.

In the case of healthcare, we’ve found that degrees in biology, medicine, or physics are much more common. Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, co-founder and CTO of Natural Cycles, probably exemplifies this the most: she was part of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson. We have a high level of confidence in these AI healthcare innovations due to the talent behind them.

Blueprint Genetics seems to have the most niche use case, claiming to offer a software that analyzes patient DNA in order to determine the likelihood that genetic conditions will show up in various generations of the patient’s lineage. The company seems to sell their software to hospitals and healthcare providers looking to provide better care to their patients by arming them with information about their and their childrens’ risk of genetic disorders.

Siemens Healthineers also sells to hospitals. The company offers a software that it claims can help hospital personnel prioritize patients based on the discrepancy between the care they are receiving and the hospital’s own care guidelines.

Natural Cycles and Ada Health are notably B2C companies offering smartphone applications to consumers. Natural Cycles claims its machine learning app can help women determine whether or not they are fertile at any given moment, and Ada Health offers a chatbot that it claims can answer questions about symptoms. Specifically, Ada seems to market their chatbot to mental health patients. Fittingly, the company’s Chief Science Officer holds a PhD in neuroscience.

This report is broken up into two sections based on the companies’ target buyers:

  • AI for Consumers
  • AI for Hospitals

AI for Consumers

Ada Health

Ada Health is a German company that offers a smartphone chatbot called Ada, which the company claims can help patients manage their personal health. The company also claims that the application could help community health workers support rural patients by providing health information and keeping patient records using machine learning and natural language processing.

Ada Health claims that patients can start using the app by creating an account and answering a series of questions related to symptoms they are experience. Ada’s algorithm will then in effect search its database to find conditions with similar symptoms, although it is unclear on what data the algorithm was trained. According to the website, Ada’s database covers thousands of symptoms and conditions.

Ada also has the capability to connect a patient with a human doctor if the patient requests and share the patient’s symptoms via SMS or other chat applications, such as What’sApp. Ada could also recommend a pharmacist or emergency care as needed.

Ada also allows a patient to track their symptoms by inputting a value that describes its severity and monitoring that severity. According to Ada Health, its chatbot is also targeted at mental health patients by providing immediate responses to psychological symptoms and connecting them to medical professionals capable of providing care on or offline.

Below is a short 2-minute video demonstrating how Ada works:

Ada Health claims 4 million people use its chatbot. The chatbot is reportedly available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French.

Ada Health, has raised $69.3 million in funding from Access Technology Ventures, June Fund, Cumberland VC, William Tunstall-Pedoe, and EASME – EU Executive Agency for SMEs.

Martin Christian Hirsch is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Ada Health. He holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the Philipp University of Marburg. Previously, Hirsch served as CEO and Founder of at InterActive Systems.

Natural Cycles

Natural Cycles is a Swedish company that offers a fertility awareness smartphone app that assists women in family planning by allowing them to stay on top of when they are fertile. Natural Cycles claims women could use the app to plan pregnancies. Natural Cycles is certified as a contraception method both in Europe and the US.

First, a woman can take her basal body temperature daily in the morning, when her temperature is lowest, and enter it into the app. Over time, the body of data that is built in the app becomes the woman’s indicator of fertility. The machine learning model behind the software learn’s the woman’s cycle and informs her through a color-coded system: red is for fertile and green is for not fertile. The woman and her partner can choose when to use protection to minimize or maximize the possibility of conceiving.

According to the website, the app lessens the need for prolonged and manual tracking used in traditional methods of family planning.

The collected data could help healthcare professionals could also better understand their patient’s menstrual cycles, fertility status, and possible underlying medical conditions. For instance, the app can figure out the woman’s average menstrual cycle length, number of fertile and non-fertile days per cycle, cycle regularity, duration of the menstrual period, variations in the ovulation period, and days with spotting. This enables the healthcare professional to counsel the patient on the right conception and contraception methods.

Below is a short 2-minute video demonstrating how Natural Cycle works:

Natural Cycles has raised $37.5 million in funding from, Sunstone Capital, Bonnier Ventures, EQT Ventures, and Innuvik Ventures.

Elina Berglund Scherwitzl is co-founder and CTO at Natural cycles. She holds a PhD in Elementary Particle Physics from the University of Geneva. Previously, Scherwitzl served as a scientist with the team that discovered the Higgs Boson particle at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

AI for Hospitals

Siemens Healthineers

Siemens Healthineers is a German company that offers a population health management software called Proactive Follow-up, which it claims uses natural language processing to help healthcare providers and medical professionals identify and take action on the discrepancy between hospital best practices and the care that patients at the hospital actually receive.

Siemens Healthineers claims that hospital management can use the software to collect structured and unstructured data. The company explains that the machine learning algorithm was trained on data pertaining to patients who missed a seasonal screening, vaccination, follow-up appointment, or post-admission compliance.

The algorithm then takes in data on the hospital’s care guidelines and real-time data on the care patients are receiving. If the software finds discrepancies between the patient data and the guidelines, it will recommend how to remedy the discrepancy, possibly allowing hospital personnel on staff to prioritize their patients based on the care they need.

A video explaining how the software works can be found on the company’s website.

Siemens Healthineers does not feature a case study for this software on its website, but lists the Medical University of South Carolina, Mater Private Hospital, Queensland Health, and the University Hospital Bonn as some of its past clients.

Bernd Montag is CEO at Siemens Healthineers. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Erlangen-Nurember.

Blueprint Genetics

Blueprint Genetics is a Finnish company that offers tests that analyze patient DNA for genetic disorders using machine learning, which the company claims can help healthcare providers assist patients in learning about hereditary diseases they may have and finding preventive treatments. The company conducts DNA tests to detect cardiovascular, dermatological, metabolic, neurological, and pulmonary disorders, among others.

Blueprint Genetics reports that hospitals submit DNA samples to them, after which they conduct targeted next-generation sequencing, a process where they analyze patients’ DNA. The company explains that changes in the DNA sequence could result in severe medical conditions that could be inherited by the next generations in a family.

The algorithms work to map the patient’s DNA with other normal DNA in the internal database of disease-related mutations that were sourced from the web or licensed from commercial sources. Errors in the DNA sequence are considered genetic defects and potentially puts the patient at risk of a severe condition.

The company claims that being able to determine genetic defects will enable healthcare providers to diagnose hereditary diseases and find preventive treatments to ensure these are not passed on to future family members.

The company does not have a demonstration video available showing how its software works.

Blueprint Genetics claims to be a certified laboratory of the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services – Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment Survey and Certificate Group, making it eligible to operate in most states in the US, aside from being an accredited lab in Finland.

The company has raised $26.3 million in funding from Stanford University, MTIP AG, Pontos Group, Creathor Ventures, and Inventure.

Jussi Paananen is Chief Technology Officer at Blueprint Genetics. He holds a PhD in Molecular Medicine from the University of Eastern Finland. Previously, Paananen served as a research manager at the University of Eastern Finland.


Header Image Credit: eter-med

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