Which support do entrepreneurial students need when they work on new solutions for the health sector? The people behind the Health Innovators incubation course know much more about this after trying it out for one year. Therefore, in the future the focus on the innovation process will be complemented by an even stronger focus on business development. This will ensure that more of the students’ ideas become viable after the end of the course.
Health Innovators’ first two pilot courses were conducted in 2017. A total of 22 students distributed on eight teams have participated in the incubation course, providing the entrepreneurial students with skills and a solid structure for the work on their ideas, at the same time providing them with networks and contacts to realise the ideas. The course alternates between expert presentations and workshops every 14 days and individual counselling meetings between each team and specialists within relevant areas.
The unique thing about Health Innovators is the strong health care focus, as also particularly emphasised by the students as adding value in the process. The introduction to the health sector, the contact with relevant health actors and professionals, and the access to competent counsellors have helped the students convert their ideas to viable future solutions.
“The network that we have built here has been outstanding. We’ve made connections here that we couldn’t have made just being at DTU.”
“We have been given a roadmap that allows us to develop IRIS. And we have been held by the hand in relation to a startup of this business. We are quite sure that we would not have gotten as far if we had not joined Health Innovators.”
“It has been a journey through the elements which you need to pay attention to if you innovate within the health sector. We have for instance gained insight into the actors in the health sector – it was totally exciting.”
“We have benefited a lot from counselling and networking. We have had an opportunity to get in touch with some people through Health Innovators, and it has made it much easier to land agreements. It has been worth it!”
“We’ve benefited a lot from the course. We received a lot of sparring from people with knowledge about this health tech world. So we’ve got some quick feedback in an early phase.”
Pilot Course under Continuous Development
CHI’s innovation consultants behind the courses have continuously evaluated Health Innovators and – along with feedback from the students and the participating organisations – this has formed the basis for further development of the process.
“In the first phase, it was the very innovation process that was the common thread throughout the joint sessions. In the second phase, we turned up the business development aspect by letting business model canvases be a constant element. It has worked well, but we can see that there is a need to focus even more on business development and consolidation of the business idea. Therefore, in the future we will admit teams that have developed their idea to a degree where they have already tested it”, says Werner Sperschneider, CHI’s innovation consultant at University College Copenhagen (formerly Metropol) who during spring 2018 is responsible for Health Innovators.
The individual teams are very different with respect to the type of idea, business model, maturity and needs. In order to further tailor the course to such individual needs, the counsellors who give presentations at the joint sessions will also provide individual sparring to each team. The individual teams will thus have a unique opportunity to use the expertise in concrete terms in relation to their own issues.
The Goal is to Secure a Platform for Further Development
In general, it is the goal to ensure that the individual teams get a foundation that is as solid as possible to further develop their idea – even after the completion of Health Innovators. Therefore, several initiatives have been launched along the way to ensure a platform for further development of their business ideas:
- From the beginning, a strong collaboration has been established with student hubs, especially the SUND Hub at the University of Copenhagen, where all teams are offered a place in order to ensure that they are backed by a strong environment during the further work with the project.
- At the end of the course, all Health Innovators teams will pitch in front of a panel of business experts, including a representative from the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, who will provide feedback and input for the further work.
- From spring 2018, CHI has initiated collaboration with Vaeksthus Copenhagen which has strong focus on commercialisation and startup, giving the students an opportunity to continue their work in collaboration with them.
Seven new teams participate in the spring course and based on the recent adaptations, it is expected that the students will have an even stronger platform to realise their ideas and establish new startups.