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INSIGHTS / THE BIG PICTURE

Portugal's health & medtech startups: Taking innovation and disruption to heart

Portugal · Mar 21, 2019 · By J Yin

Backed by local and foreign money, Portugal’s healthcare and medical technology startups are hungry to go global

Frustrated at difficulties in getting a house call for an ill child. Overwhelmed by the intensive rehabilitation that a brother, recovering from a serious car crash, had to undergo.

Driven by these personal circumstances, a group of Portuguese engineers, economists, coders and biomedical scientists harnessed their expertise to come up with Knok, SWORD Health and PeekMed, three of Portugal’s most promising healthcare startups today.

At the end of last year PeekMed, the world's first 3D orthopedic software, received the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval as a medical device, paving the way for its commercialization in the country. Eyeing the same market is SWORD Health, whose Stroke Wearable Operative Rehabilitation Device (SWORD) Phoenix had gained the same clearance in 2017.

Meanwhile Knok’s Uber-like system for doctors – named the “most investable” startup at the 2016 European Business Angels Network Annual Congress – has expanded from Portugal to the UK and Spain, with plans to enter Italy next.

In September 2017, European life sciences venture capital investor Vesalius Biocapital partnered the Portuguese National Promotional Bank to invest in Portuguese life sciences companies, citing Portugal’s “exciting period of growth and global interest in its healthcare sector.”

Portugal’s healthcare and medtech startups have been among the brightest stars of the local ecosystem. Their potential for global application is clear from the international mix of investors they have attracted, ranging across private equity, venture capital, commercial and government entities from the US and Europe.

Edited by Bernice Tang

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