Estonian health cluster: from web to space


Estonian health cluster: from web to space

When I first time visited a doctor in Estonia a couple of years ago I asked for the prescription - I got none. Even if you ask, you do not get a paper saying which drug you can buy, you just go to pharmacist with your ID card and she can see from her terminal what you have a right to buy.

This is just one small part of the Estonian e-society, a competitive advantage Estonian health companies are hoping to build upon. Almost all Estonians carry ID cards and use them in their everyday life. The cards are similar to Finnish ID cards, but whats different is their proliferation in every-day life. They are used for most bank-transactions, they are used by entrepreneurs for most of communication with the state. In December Estonia even became the first country in the world to offer foreigners ID cards – a move mostly aimed at offering hassle-free state services to foreign entrepreneurs. Some of these services have been available already for foreign ID card holders – a few years ago Finnish ID card was used to found more than 1000 companies in Estonia, while it was used to found zero companies in Finland.

“Thanks to the fact that we have the ID-card system and countrywide eHealth system, and there is public acceptance of all that, Estonia is a unique environment to test eHealth services in the community of 1 million people,” says Külle Tärnov, head initiator of the new health technology cluster which was formed in November 2014. There are 40 players of Estonian health and medical technology sector, including startups like LabToWellness or Cognuse, but also IT companies, universities, hospitals, NGOs and “real” spas in the cluster. The big aim of the cluster is to drive healthier life and improve patient care, to provide economic growth through the adoption of connected health solutions and to accelerate global ambitions of its members. For that the cluster is looking also for possible co-operation partners in Finland. “Estonian and Finnish solutions could nicely compliment to each other,” says Tärnov.

Clearly Estonia hopes to become hotbed of new health services: in 2014 also two Garage48 startup weekends in Tallinn focused on the topic. April event was focused on creating health and wellness services and November event launched new services for disabled people. In addition to Connected Health Cluster there are also associations for exporting medical services, for cell therapy and for sports medicine.

Among startups to keep an eye on in the sector one should mention WellBiome, which offers personalised nutrition advice based on analysis of bacteria in your gut, coaching software Sportlyzer and Myoton, which makes muscle diagnostics measurement device and counts European astronauts among its clients.


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