BestHealth4U | X-Europe Startup Interview
Welcome to the first article of our X-Europe startup interview series. We have virtually sat dow with a number of our founders from past cohorts to hear all about their solutions, vision for the future and what made them tick during our X Europe programme. So whether you are a deep tech founder looking for startup support, an eagle eyed investor or simply interested in the possibilities that technology can bring to society, then we welcome you to take a read. First up - BestHealth4U.
Hi, What is your name? Sonia Ferreira, I'm the founder and CEO of BestHealth4U.
Can you briefly explain what your solution is all about? What’s unique about it?
BestHealth4U is an R&D company, specialized in developing new and advanced material solutions for skin-interacting medical devices. Our role is to investigate, analyze, and identify the needs of patients and the healthcare market in order to develop innovative technologies that answer and provide better solutions for the medical field.
BestHealth4U was founded in 2017, from the personal story of its founder, Sónia Ferreira. After seeing her cousin suffer from severe skin problems caused by the continuous use of medical devices (MD) glued to her skin, she sought to develop an advanced solution for this.
Frequent and continuous usage of medical devices (MD) attached to the skin often causes severe skin injuries to the patient known as MARSI (Medical Adhesive-Related Skin Injuries) due to the aggressive peeling of the current medical adhesives that are vicious, chemical and glue-based materials. As a solution, BestHealth4U developed its first product, Bio2Skin, a bio-based medical adhesive that disrupts the current concept of adhesives as it is glue-less and doesn't "stick" to the skin.
Bio2Skin uses the natural features of the skin to establish adhesion through water molecules, thus providing a strong, safe, and gentle adhesive solution for a wide range of MD, including, tapes and wound dressings, attachment of critical tubes, access devices, and ostomy products, electronic wearables, transdermal delivery skin-patches, etc.
Due to the multi-dynamic and multi-applicability of Bio2Skin's material, BestHealth4U has been exploring it in several new products and applications, namely in the digital medical monitoring and applications of transdermal drug delivery through the skin.
How can your solution impact the Health sector?
Any patient who uses a medical dressing/device can potentially experience MARSI, however certain groups are more vulnerable, for example, infants, elderly patients, oncology, orthopedic surgery, and ostomate patients. Namely, 1 in 5 of hospitalized infants and children, 1 in 5 long-term care patients, 2 in 5 hip surgery patients, and 4 in 5 ostomate patients suffer because of MARSI. The current adhesives in the market don’t provide an effective solution, especially for high-risk patients.
The strong adhesion and the multi-purpose features of B2S allow its application in a wide range of medical products, as well as it can be used by all types of patients. B2S material can be used from securing critical and heavy tubing (e.g endotracheal tubes) to anchoring lightweight tubing and devices (e.g IV chemotherapy), providing a solution for long-term care, oncology, surgery, and other-type of patients, and even users of monitoring devices.
Since it is gentle to the skin it can be applied to the sensitive skin of new-borns, infants, and elderly, and for frequent usage of medical devices such as ostomy bags.
The replacement of the current adhesives for B2S material would significantly reduce MARSI, as it is expected to decrease 30% of MARSI occurrence. B2S would provide a powerful and positive impact on patients’ health and quality of life, especially in the patients that suffer the most from MARSI.
Since the foundation of your company, what have been its biggest milestones? What challenges are you still trying to overcome?
Bio2Skin is fully developed having achieved proof-of-concept in 2018, and in early 2019, Bio2Skin achieved TRL6 with remarkable mechanical tests and promising pre-clinical studies. Currently, Bio2Skin is under biocompatibility certification, ISO 10993, being necessary for its commercialization. In 2019, BH4U started commercialization relationships with several MedTech companies, where they are testing Bio2Skin and applying it to their own medical products.
As a MedTech startup, BestHealth4U needs to have its product validated and certified for medical applications.
So far, BestHealth4U has raised €600k in grants, prizes, and awards that have provided the current technological advances, however, clinical validation and regulatory certification are costly activities, and BestHealth4U needs to attract a higher amount of investment.
The company has been actively working to attract a larger private investment, yet, most of the contacts we've are mostly local, from Portugal, and of angel ventures or family offices that do not have the financial capacity for a large investment or contacts with the MD industry. BestHealth4U is only interested in "smart" investment, ie. investors that not only provide us with the funds but also have contacts with the MD industry that can open doors to new opportunities of business and raise the company value.
Our main challenge is having the right contacts for this type of investment, and the support in terms of company valuation and on investment agreements.
What was the status of your product before joining X-Europe? How has your original product vision evolved?
Our first product, Bio2Skin, evolved mainly on the commercialization and business side. Through X-Europe, we got more contacts with medical device companies, as well as mentoring and training sessions that have helped us in the negotiation of Bio2Skin with our potential customers, but also with our potential investors.
Additionally, X-Europe also offered us support on the development of a new project, a follow-up product of Bio2Skin, a digital adhesive.
The company vision and plan of action has evolved immensely since we joined X-Europe, where this program allowed us to define a strategic plan for these developments.
After joining and benefiting from the services X-Europe has provided to you, what next steps do you envision?
BestHealth4U envisions to continue developing its first product Bio2Skin, and reach the market in 2021, and develop strategic partnerships for the development of its follow-up projects that are in the company's pipeline, namely the digital application of Bio2skin for the remote monitoring of wounds.
What tips do you have for entrepreneurs trying to succeed in the HealthTech/BioTech field?
Our tips are to work proactively in your field and follow your passion.
Try to be involved in the process as much as possible, and learn from your mistakes.
When you show your passion and why you're involved in your business, people will always be open to help you and work with you.
It also helps to plan ahead and to always be prompt to answer questions and problems beforehand, this will allow you to have a bigger picture of your vision, and evaluate what steps you should fo next.
What’s unique about the X-Europe programme?
The uniqueness of X-Europe was the access to a big network of industries in HealthTech, MedTech, and BioTech at the same time, involving all stakeholders, startups, medical device companies, R&D institutions, investors, services, etc.
It gave us access to training workshops and mentoring with experts in the field, from business strategy to marketing.
X-Europe provided us hands-on and customized training and mentoring. The Growth Tribe Course was customized to the company' and product' needs, being this the main difference from all the other programs.