Healthtech - Hi-tech from Finland 2016

Page 1


t l a

e h

e t

h c


h c e i-t

m fro



n a l in


1 20


OuluHealth Labs provides your product a unique, integrated health test and development environment – including professionals’ feedback – for every phase of your R&D process.

Opinion columns



Healthcare is going digital because rising costs need to be reined in. The technologies are now mature and citizens are demanding digital services. For the health technology sector, digitalization enables new kinds of products and services. Picture: Tiina Mäki.

4 Growth continues! Veli Mäkelä, Chairman of the Board, FiHTA ry 5 Sustained effort now paying dividends Dr. Olli Rehn, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs 10 Finland’s recipe for reform Ville Peltola, Director, ICT Industry, The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries

Theme articles 6 3D technology is transforming surgery 11 Digitalization reengineers healthcare services and the health technology industry 20 Finland is open for investment in the Life Sciences and Healthcare

industry 26 Finland’s exports of health technology grew 6.6% to a new record of 1.92 billion euro in 2015

Companies and organizations

6 3D technology and surgery For years, Jani Horelli (left) from Planmeca and surgeon Jyrki Törnwall have cooperated to bring 3D technology to surgery. Today, Finland is the leading country in the field. In the first Nordic face transplant operation, the use of 3D technology substantially decreased the operating time. This was important as the risk of complications increases the longer it takes to operate. Picture: Planmeca.


New record for Finnish health technology exports Exports reached a new record of 1.9 billion euro in 2015, with strongest growth for in vitro diagnostic equipment and reagents. Exports continue to grow faster than imports, resulting in another record trade balance. Health technology is Finland’s only significant hi-tech sector which brings a notable trade balance. Picture: Medix Biochemica / Maija Partanen.

2 Oulu Health 2 Orion Diagnostica 8 Planmeca 17 Merivaara 18 Innokas Medical & CareFusion 21 Finpro 22 PerkinElmer 24 Medix Biochemica &

Companion Diagnostics

Publisher Finnish Health Technology Association, FiHTA c/o The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries Eteläranta 10, PL 10, 00131 HELSINKI Editor in chief Terhi Kajaste, Editorial staff Martti Ahlstén, Sean Donovan, Design and layout Kati Rosenberg, Front cover In 2015, the fastest growing sector in health technology was in vitro diagnostics Picture: Medix Biochemica / Maija Partanen Printing house Libris Oy, Helsinki 2016


Growth continues! We did it again! Finland’s trade in health technology broke new records again in 2015, both in terms of export volume and the positive balance of trade. The 6.6% growth in exports recorded was largely due to strong, 16% growth in exports of in vitro diagnostics and 4% growth in exports of electromedical equipment. Health technology has made up the largest share of Finland’s hightech exports for several years now. For the past two decades, the growth in exports of Finnish healthtech has been significantly faster than growth in exports overall. Recent growth can be attributed to significant investments in digital solutions. Improved availability of appropriate financial instruments has also played a role. Many companies already manufacture devices that communicate amongst themselves and also with devices from other systems. Innovative digital solutions will be key to realizing the cost-savings promised by Finland’s plan for reform of its social welfare and health care services. It is notable that our industry is innovating and making gains in just those areas where our government is facing its greatest challenges: trade and the costs of social welfare and health care. The future will see an increase in citizen self-care and self-monitoring using a variety of portable and wearable sensors and mobile application. These trends are already visible in the offerings from FiHTA member companies. Beddit and Mendor, for example, have already successfully commercialized their products and software for self-monitoring. These, and many other FiHTA member companies are capitalizing on the intersection of digitalization and the internet of things – more on this topic later. Close collaboration with university hospitals has been especially important in the development of our industry. Absent such collaboration, we would not have seen the growth of Instrumentarium’s Datex. A pioneering division which made industrial history in Finland and whose legacy is still benefitting our industry and healthcare providers. A fresh reminder of what collaboration can offer is the first face transplant operation performed in Finland – the first in the Nordic countries. With the aid of 3D technology some of the surgical procedures could be performed for the first time

ever – procedures that would have been considered impossible just a few years ago. We may not yet know for sure what comes next, but the potential for 3D technology in surgery is immense. Even five years ago, health technology was an almost unknown industry in Finland. Now it is not only well-known but well respected. Today we have excellent, fruitful joint cooperation with the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and its Team Finland network (Tekes, Finpro, Sitra and Finnvera), the pharmaceutical industry, university hospitals and many regional organizations around Finland. One field of cooperation is the Team Finland Health program, a tangible outcome from Finland’s joint growth strategy for research and innovation activities in the health sector. Clusters are being formed to implement the program and accelerate exports. One of these is the Medtech-cluster, for which FiHTA has agreed to take responsibility. We have also witnessed closer cooperation within the health technology sector. A good example being the growth in FiHTA’s membership, which has risen 50% in five years. Finland has also witnessed an unprecedented startup boom, giving rise to a large number of companies based on digital technologies. Health technology plays a major role in the plans of many of these startups and we warmly welcome them to our fold. FiHTA has a lot to offer startups with member networking and in managing regulatory requirements. These developments should allow FiHTA to continue to grow its member base. FiHTA’s regulatory news and management service, Conforlex, has a growing number of users amongst our members. We also offer our Nordic sister organizations the competitive advantages offered by Conforlex. In addition to startups, we also invite larger companies to become FiHTA members. Nokia, for example, has indicated that it is interested in the opportunities afforded by healthcare technologies. All interested, contact us!


Picture: Päivi Telenius, Planmeca Oy


Chairman Veli Mäkelä, Finnish Health Technology Association, FiHTA

Picture: Sakari Piippo Licensee: The Prime Minister’s Office

Column Sustained effort now paying dividends Dr. Olli Rehn, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Finland’s health sector and the sector’s international links have grown at a faster pace than many other sectors in recent years. Health technology has turned into a high-tech export sector and become an employment provider of national importance. This success is founded on a concerted effort by society, industry and the third sector, which together have built the necessary ecosystem and developed the expertise in healthcare. Our common effort and investments are now delivering tangible results. Exports of health technology had a positive effect on Finland’s trade balance in 2015, amounting to a net impact of 900 million euros. The sector is also expected to add a thousand jobs this year. The growth of foreign direct investments signals that the opportunities offered by our operating environment and innovation ecosystem are also recognized elsewhere. The Government is committed to further developing Finland as a competitive environment for health sector research, innovation and business. A concrete demonstration of this is our recent decision to support the founding of national genome and cancer centres by investing 17 million euros. At a time of austerity, this level of funding is a strong statement and signals strong support by the Government. The continued development of health technology requires multidisciplinary collaboration on a national and international level. It is an industry where engineering, life sciences and industrial design, as well as many other fields of science, interact with the expertise inherent in the diverse array of medical specialties.

In order to be successful in further developing the health sector, we need cooperation between companies of different sizes from different fields – both domestic and foreign – and research institutions, universities hospitals, biobanks and investors. Enhancing this type of public-private cooperation is a key objective of Finland’s Health Sector Growth Strategy. This strategy was created and continues to be implemented through public-private collaboration, with active participation from industry, universities and university hospitals. The recent growth in the sector and the new innovations entering the market are an indication that, by acting together, we are on right track. New test environments and reference sites will play a crucial role in the evolution of the sector. The Government has set a goal by which 5% of public procurement will be innovative procurement. The hope is that this innovation target also contributes to the development of health technology. In the reform of Finland’s social welfare and healthcare sectors, many processes within healthcare will be renewed. The reform cannot be realized without utilizing the opportunities that technology offers. We will need technologies that enable home monitoring and transfer of the results to experts around the country for interpretation. We will also need faster and more accurate diagnostic methods and analyses. Finland’s social welfare and health care reform will benefit our citizens by contributing to an increase in the quality of life, and with new innovations we are looking at a win-win situation for productivity and new potential for export growth. Health technology has a major role in helping solve the challenges that Finland is currently facing. The Government is prepared to support the development of health technology by providing prescriptions it has the power to write. HEALTHTECH I 5

3D technology is transforming surgery The first face transplant operation performed in the Nordic countries was an amazing demonstration of Finnish expertise in surgery and surgical technologies.


n the beginning there was just an idea, or rather two. The first idea was to perform face transplant surgery. Not a completely impossible idea. Five years ago, when plastic surgeon Patrik Lassus and oral and maxillofacial surgeon Jyrki Törnwall were considering the idea, a dozen such operations had already been performed in other countries. It would certainly be challenging, but a successful operation would clearly be beneficial for the patient’s health. The other idea was to perform the operation with the help of 3D technology, something never done before. This idea took shape

when the surgeons compared earlier face transplant operations to the surgery required for this patient waiting in Finland. The challenges presented by face transplant surgery are immense in any case – the surgical team needs to graft new skin, nerves, blood vessels and membranes and, importantly, restore vital functions. In this particular case, however, the surgeons also needed to graft bone. Only a few such operations had ever been performed before, and they were significantly more challenging than soft tissue surgery alone. Overall, the proposed operation would rank as among one of the most challenging imaginable, regardless of the specialty.

Long-term cooperation with Planmeca Jyrki Törnwall considers Finland to be at the forefront of implementing 3D technology in surgery. At Helsinki University hospital, surgeons in his own specialty, oral and maxillofacial surgery, have frequently made use of 3D technology in planning and simulating surgeries. Planmeca has been cooperating with Helsinki University Hospital for a decade. The first project they partnered on was the repair of a fractured eye socket, where an individualized implant was needed to restore the natural height of the patient’s eye. With this long history of cooperation, it was natural to turn to Planmeca to partner on the face transplant operation. It’s been three years since CAD/CAM Design Manager Jani Horelli’s phone rang.

Skull models and implants manufactured using 3D technology. Pictures: Planmeca / Johannes Kaarakainen


Planmeca is known for oral and maxillofacial health technology products. Horelli adds that the company’s product range also includes imaging equipment for other specialties, including orthopedics. Planmeca started developing 3D imaging already in the early 2000s to help improve diagnostics and treatment planning. Once the production was advanced enough, Planmeca was able to introduce its ProModel service for printing high-quality 3D models. ProModel is a service for designing and creating patient-specific implants, surgical guides and skull models from CBCT/CT images. To prepare for the face transplant operation, the surgeons rehearsed their skills on donated cadavers. The ProModel service is valuable here because it can be used for virtual operations and “dry-run” simulated implantations with 3Dprinted skull models.

3D technology significantly shortened theater time From the moment the idea was first conceived, all the preparations for this first-of-a-kind operation in the Nordic countries took five years. In addition to planning and rehearsing the techniques, reams of red tape needed to be sorted out. In 2015 the team was finally ready. By that time over 30 facial transplant operations had been performed worldwide, but fewer than ten of them had involved grafting bone.

A donor was found and the operation performed in the spring of 2016. 3D models of the recipient had already been made at Planmeca earlier. The donor’s tissues were modelled right before the operation. At this stage, the surgeons together with Planmeca’s Jani Horelli, simulated the operation using 3D technology. The surgical guides were planned and manufactured at Planmeca and delivered directly to the operating theater without delay. The operation lasted for 21 hours, involving 11 surgeons as well as 20 nurses and other specialists. The upper and lower jaws, lips, nose, muscles from the mid areas of the face, tongue muscles and facial skin – and, importantly, the nerves for the muscles – all needed to be painstakingly grafted to the new host. The use of 3D technology substantially decreased the operating time – saving hours compared to similar procedures previously carried out elsewhere in the world. This was a notable achievement since the risk of complications increases the longer it takes to operate. It is also vital that circulation is restored to the grafted tissues as soon as possible.

Wild visions So, has something been achieved which can never be surmounted? For many, their involvement in the operation is likely to remain the pinnacle of their careers. Clearly, the developments in 3D technology and materials have opened new vistas on what can be achieved by surgery. Jyrki Törnwall believes that the next step will be to stop using titanium as an implant material. Although titanium is a practical material for manufacturing, it is a foreign material to the human body. Törnwall predicts that future implants will be made of biomaterials that eventually turn into bone tissue. If we let our imagination run wild, in the future we will be printing complete replacement parts for people from skin to veins. How about printing a complete nose to replace one that might have been destroyed? Or perhaps we will be able to combine stem cells to produce skin, nerves and other organs. How long will this take? The science and technology are developing so fast, that nobody can answer. We may have to wait two decades, or five. Only time will tell!


Better care through innovation

Excellence in digital solutions

Design matters

As the future of health care is digital, we are committed to provide the best possible digital workflow for our customers. Superior image quality, low patient dose, efficiency and ease-of-use are the most important guidelines of our product development.

Our aim is to create functional, durable and innovative products that stand the test of time. Award-winning Planmeca products are designed with four principles in mind: optimal ergonomics, uncompromised safety and hygiene, superb patient comfort and future-proof aesthetics.

Planmeca Oy Asentajankatu 6, 00880 Helsinki, Finland Tel. +358 20 7795 500, fax +358 20 7795 555,

Planmeca Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of health care technology, and Finland’s largest company group in the field. We design and manufacture pioneering medical and dental imaging solutions, software, mammography systems, and dental care equipment. Planmeca is a recognised innovation leader in digital health care technology – and strongly committed to better care through innovation.

A truly global forerunner

Quality made in Finland

Since its inception Planmeca has determinedly aimed at global markets. Today we are the largest privately owned company in our field. Our products are sold in over 120 countries, and we are the market leader in several countries around the world. Planmeca Group employs 2,700 people worldwide.

As a Finnish family-owned company we rely on the Finnish product development expertise. Using the latest technology and the best materials, our products have been designed and manufactured in Helsinki, Finland for already over 40 years.

Finland’s recipe for reform Finland is planning the most fundamental reform of its health and social services in history. Ville Peltola, Director for the ICT industry at the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, does health technology play a role in the reform? I think it must. The goals of the reform, better access to care and cost containment, will not happen if we are not able to keep our citizens out of the hospital, where the costs of care are the highest. And to do that, we are going to need health technology.

Is the reform just a domestic issue?

Picture: Jari Härkönen.

Not at all, the reform will also support the export of products and services. Here, the development of public sector procurement will play a fundamental role. The government’s plans are of international interest – if and when we succeed, people will come from near and far to hear Finland’s recipe for reform!


How will the average citizen notice the advent of digital technology? Normally, health data collected by a public health system has only been available for healthcare professionals. In Finland, however, data is now available also to citizens themselves, with access via an electronic data vault. In this respect Finland is an international forerunner. Next, we will implement computer programs and applications allowing citizens to note down changes in their health, perform measurements at home and upload the data to the cloud for storage and sharing on a data network. What will happen in the daily routine of a healthcare professional? The traditional physician’s consultation will see major changes. Physicians are already relating how patients are arriving with googled information on their disease, or on a disease they imagine they might have, based on information garnered from the web. Some of these patients know as much about their condition as the physician, occasionally even more. On the other hand, some patients have unearthed misleading information and consequently come to the wrong conclusions. Soon patients will be arriving for their appointment with their own data from home measurements. How should the doctor treat this kind of data? How should it be processed, analyzed and 10 I HEALTHTECH

stored? How can official patient records take advantage of this extra data? We need to start having answers to these questions soon. Now that huge masses of data can be stored and processed faster and better than ever before, healthcare professionals are starting to get their hands on better diagnostic tools and systems. How long do we need to wait? The Finnish Society of Telemedicine and eHealth has called for a culture of experimentation in healthcare. Not all areas demand meticulous planning and preparation, sometimes a rapid prototyping approach could be tried. Naturally, security is paramount when dealing with citizens and their health. Not all activities are open to experimentation, but many minor tasks are. The number of mobile apps devoted to lifestyle change is growing rapidly. One of these apps is a Finnish one which has already met with success in global markets. As an example of experimentation culture, this app could be trialed at a number health centers in Finland to see if it offers benefits here, too. Some official body could be charged with maintaining a dynamic list of recommended apps – ones that have been shown to be effective, either through rapid, real-world trialing or other evaluations. Finland is currently in the international spotlight with its intention to trial a basic minimum income for citizens. The fact that experimentation culture is mentioned in the government’s agenda is exceptional. Why can we not brand Finland even stronger as an innovative experimenter – also in healthcare? That would also give impetus to exports and the future success of Finnish health technology.

Reengineer healthcare services

DIGITALIZATION Reengineer the health technology industry


ealthcare is on the cusp of a new era. Digitaliza- tion enables the uptake of new tools and process- es as well as the development of societal systems. Productivity will improve and costs will be under better control. Digitalization will open new avenues of growth for the health technology industry.

For many reasons the digitalization of healthcare is a hot topic internationally. The first reason is the cost crisis in healthcare delivery. New, more effective practices are needed to augment, or replace, traditional ways. One of the most important methods for renewal is digitalization, which apart from bringing cost benefits, will also improve the productivity of processes in healthcare. The second reason is technological development. The quality of the equipment has improved, the size of devices has shrunk, processing power has increased and storage capacity has grown. All these developments now open the doors to practical applications of digitalization, in new kinds of equipment and services. The third driver are the citizens themselves. They want to know more about their own condition and participate more in their own care. They are also ready to measure their own well-being. At the same time they

have learnt to use smart phones and expect new tools and services also from healthcare providers. For health technology industry companies, digitalization offers new possibilities to develop novel devices and services, both for the healthcare providers and for citizens themselves. A dialogue with the regulatory authorities will be needed in order to determine when a proposed solution is a medical device, subject to more stringent regulation, and when it is low-risk solution, for example a wellness app aimed at consumers, which could be subject to lighter regulation. In addition, a debate will be needed to determine how data generated by citizens themselves can be harnessed for the use of healthcare professionals when they make a diagnosis or decision on treatment.

From technology adoption to processes reengineering Arto Holopainen, Senior Advisor for Kuopio Innovation and President of The Finnish Society of Telemedicine and eHealth, says that healthcare has been going digital for several decades. “Up until now we have connected acquired devices and systems to existing processes, without really changing behavior. Now we are reengineering processes using digitalization. Through digitalization it is possible


Oulu University Hospital (OYS) has adopted a smartphone-based system, Hoitu, which is an extension of both the enterprise resource planning and patient data management systems. Initially implemented in the common emergency department, use of the Hoitu system is being expanded to the patient wards. With this system OYS is now an almost fully digital hospital. Picture: Tiina Mäki

to develop the division of roles and strengthen the citizen’s own role in the care process. Then, people will be able to act more independently and generate information themselves on their own health”, Holopainen contemplates.

data displayed on the cockpit instrument panels. Now that the amount of sensor data gathered has grown tremendously, a modern aircraft’s flightdeck system shows only those data which are relevant to the current stage of the flight.

“Preventative medicine currently promises healthcare providers the biggest savings. With new digital tools and process we will be able to measure and monitor people without them needing to come to the hospital so often. Based on the results of lifetime cost analyses, digital services will improve the efficiency of hospital care and it will be possible to discharge patients faster.”

In the future we might have similar kinds of systems which, in an operating room for example, collect an enormous amount of data, analyze it and store it – but only show the surgeons the data which they actually need at any particular moment.

Jarmo Reponen, Professor of Healthcare IT at Oulu University, is of the opinion that the rapid growth in data is both an opportunity and a challenge. Both healthcare professionals and citizens need to differentiate which data are relevant. Digitalization therefore demands more intelligence to go with the increasing amount of data. Even the volume of relevant data may become too large. When we reach that stage we will need to use data filters. As an example, Reponen uses the airplane cockpit. Earlier, the pilot had all sensor


Data is a new natural resource Risto Rossi, Marketing Director for GE Healthcare’s anesthesia and respiratory care business unit says that “big data” – a term for the large volumes of data generated and its analysis – together with the industrial internet will play a significant role in the digitalization of healthcare. Also known as the internet of things (IoT), the industrial internet refers to business concepts based on utilizing the communication between and around sensors built into equipment.

According to Rossi, up until recently healthcare data has been locked into various proprietary systems – essentially for internal uses. This was due to technical limitations on data transfer and information processing. That paradigm is fast changing and data is becoming a kind of natural resource, from which new business concepts can be created. “With the recent leaps in technological innovation, we no longer face the same kind of barriers to the transfer, storage and analysis of data as we used to only a few years ago. We are on the verge of exploiting the industrial internet and system intraoperability is now a hot topic all over the world”, Rossi notes. “Devices connected to the internet are daily creating an amount of data equivalent to the entire volume of data generated by mankind prior to the new millennium. But only a tiny fraction of the data generated by devices linked to the internet can be used, since hardly any of it is structured. And even of the structured data, only a fraction has been analyzed.” The next challenge is how to ensure that stored data can be re-used. One technique is to tag data to enable further processing. Once data is tagged with meanings, we have useful, structured information. Rossi describes exploiting this information with a fishing analogy: consider that the big data all reside in one large data pool from which desired information can be trawled using filter nets.

Devices connected to the internet generate an immense amount of data every day. Only a fraction of the data can be utilized today. Picture: Thinkstock.

From hardware to new care pathways The IoT working group of the Finnish Health Technology Association (FiHTA) has analyzed business models in health technology using the technology revolution concept. The chairman of the IoT working group is Tommi Kaasalainen, who is working as Executive Vice President at Innokas Medical. Kaasalainen condenses the revolution into three stages.“In the first phase we sold hardware essentially by the kilo. Currently, most companies are at the second stage where the user needs to purchase disposables or replaceables in addition to the original device. Take a ventilator’s airway adapter for example, that needs to be for single patient use, in order to avoid cross-contamination. Progressive companies have gone a stage further and seen a business opportunity in both the devices and the data generated.

Technical data on the device itself is legally much easier to collect and use as there are normally no data protection considerations. But when it comes to patient information, strict data protection is required”, says Kaasalainen. Using the technical data from a device, preventative maintenance can be forecast and a company can add a maintenance service to their offering based on these technical data. The benefit to the customer is that a device is always functional and ready for use, whenever it may be required. Using patient data it is possible to personalize care to the individual patient. Analysis of country-specific data also offers new opportunities. Programs could be implemented to limit the population exposed to a strain of influenza – or even prevent the spread of a polio outbreak – for example. “The next stage of development will be to take the data collected on devices and patients in order to develop entirely new care processes and allow use of devices in new settings. For example, care can be provided in the home instead of the hospital, with better and smaller devices that can be remotely controlled”, Kaasalainen forecasts.

Software can be a device In order to reduce the need for intensive hospital care in the future, not only devices but also software will be needed. Tom Ståhlberg, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at FiHTA, says that software quality in health technology has been part of legally-binding directives since the 1990s. “Initially, this kind of software has been so-called “embedded”, in other words the software has been an integral part of a device. In recent years, device-independent “stand alone” software have appeared on the market. An example of such software is one that predicts the probability of a disease. Under current legislation, these kinds of software are also regulated as devices”, he says. Thanks to the birth of the Nokia-driven communications industry, Finland has a strong level of expertise in software. Although Nokia has undergone a quite a transformation, none of this software expertise has disappeared. Finland still has a wealth of software developers with many more now specializing in healthcare.


People are taking ever more responsibility for their own health. Information like the adequacy or quality of sleep can help. Pictures: and iStockPhoto.

According to Ståhlberg, companies should not be afraid of medical device regulatory issues. The issues can be studied and the requirements learnt and embraced, just like any other area of business. And even though a company may seek to develop only wellness-related applications, abiding by regulatory requirements in itself will improve business processes. In addition, gaining a CE-mark for a product is always a competitive advantage”, he adds.

A patient who arrived at an ER suffering atrial fibrillation happened to have been using a pulse rate meter. The doctor who treated him was able to determine the onset of fibrillation based on the pulse rate data and base his treatment decision on that information.

Utilizing home measurements

“These developments have already become part of the insurance business and they are starting to be of interest to healthcare providers. Both systems benefit from their customers taking better care of themselves. That’s why they encourage their customers to use applications which promote healthier lifestyles and offer them incentives and bonuses”, says Salonius.

A crucial feature of healthcare digitalization is that citizens start to take more responsibility for their own health, its upkeep and care. For all of this they will need help from several applications. Some may only be intended for personal use, but others will generate data that will be valuable to healthcare professionals when they need to make a diagnosis and treatment decision. Kenneth Salonius, startup entrepreneur and one of the HealthSPA network founders, likes to talk about a case that was documented in the USA as an example.


According to Salonius, applications originally designed for personal fitness and health monitoring are already finding their way into the professional’s toolbox.

“The third area is mental health. We will see some really interesting solutions which will help people to help themselves, assist them in finding help and, importantly, help patients seek care earlier than before.

More analytics needed In order to remain competitive in the digital world, the health technology industry has embarked on intensive research and product development activity. According to Tommi Kaasalainen, established companies are slower to grasp change than the more agile startups. “Startups are so-called disruptive actors which seek the largest possible leap in productivity. Many also seek to develop miniaturized devices so they can be flexible. They strive to bypass the development model I described earlier by introducing new digital devices and services into new environments,” he says. Large multinational companies also have their finger on the pulse. For example, GE Healthcare’s anesthesia machines now use a so-called black box which stores all the data monitored during an operation. “Already now our digital anesthesia delivery units can transfer hundreds of parameter measurements – updated every second – to a data lake in the cloud. When these parameter data are combined with other

patient data, for example medication prescribed and laboratory readings, we can calculate the impact of the care offered. And if a problem arises, afterwards the staff can see how the team responded and what the outcomes were, step-by-step”, Risto Rossi describes.

GE Healthcare’s digital anesthesia delivery devices unleash the power of analytics. Picture: Copyright General Electric Company

At the moment, this kind of black box data cannot be utilized in the most effective manner. According to Rossi the analytical tools required still need further development. In the future however, predictive analytics will be based on this kind of data gathering. This kind of analytics could predict, for example, that if the patient’s vital signs are stable and the operation continues according to plan, the outcome is known with a degree of certainty. “The ultimate goal would be prescriptive analytics, where, for example, an intelligent and connected system would suggest the most favorable course of action based on big data analytics. The role of the healthcare professionals responsible for the patient’s care would always be to evaluate the system’s suggestions. If they accept a suggestion it could then be performed manually or autonomously. At any stage, the responsible professionals could select an alternative course of action, depending on the patient and the circumstances”, Rossi envisions.


Data integration is unavoidable

The gaming industry joins in

The use of big data is also being evaluated by service providers. The Aalto University is participating in a study financed by the Academy of Finland looking at which data amongst the mass of already existing data could be utilized in the care of various diseases.

Neuron, a private institution owned by The Finnish Brain Research and Rehabilitation Foundation, is studying the use of digital tools in rehabilitation. Neuron’s study is being funded by the European Social Fund. The goal of the study is to develop a remote rehabilitation service which will allow patients to be discharged form hospital as soon as possible.

According to Professor Juho Rousu, a great deal of data is stored but very little of this data is used effectively for diagnosis or planning treatment. Harnessing the existing masses of data would seem to be an obvious way of streamlining processes with the current cost crisis – and budgets are getting tighter all the time.

Kauko Pitkänen, Director, Chief Physician of Neuron, cites a lack of resources. Aging of the population will mean more people living with disabilities and there will start to be a shortage of therapists. With current practices, we run the danger that some patients will become ostracized from society as a consequence of insufficient rehabilitation.

This Aalto study is specifically looking at combining data from multiple different sources. Genomic data, for example, have been used in research but have not been applied to healthcare services to any great extent.

“We are developing processes and the related technology to allow remote rehabilitation without the patient having to go to hospital. We are working on a net-based service, using either the web or a smart phone, which allows customers to communicate with physio-, speech- or occupational therapists who instruct them on the activities needed”, says Pitkänen.

“Data integration needs to be achieved at the level of the individual patient. For example, we should be able to see whether a specific feature of the genome correlates with the information in the patient record”, Rousu clarifies. Our goal is to develop methods that combine data from large medical archives with predictive modelling; with adaptable user interfaces, also under development, these methods will assist doctors in making diagnoses and planning treatment. For the patients participating, the study will draw on data from their electronic patient records which will be compared to their genetic background. There will be pilot trials for small premature babies, leukemia patients and people with COPD. “Using big data, I believe the doctor’s work will be quite different in 5–10 years from now”, Rousu predicts.


Also involved in the research project are gaming companies which are developing health-promoting games. By playing these games, customers can practice their balance or train their upper limbs through guided exercises. Customers have shown interest and willingly participated in these new techniques. “We are not intending to replace traditional processes entirely. Hospital visits and consultations with specialists continue to be important, although less so than earlier. The new process model offers the possibility to develop and enhance the post-discharge rehabilitation phase when exercise intensity otherwise declines. This has been something of a black hole”, Pitkänen says.

The gaming industry also has a role in offering health and wellness services. In a game developed for physiotherapeutic training, the patient sits on a saddle chair and moves the arrow displayed on a computer screen – altering posture or the body’s center of gravity according to on-screen instructions. Picture: Neuron

Picture: Merivaara

Bringing intelligence and ease-of-use to OR equipment

Merivaara is helping healthcare professionals with intelligent systems. Merivaara’s business is manufacturing hospital furnishings and operating room systems. With competitors who are much larger, the company has secured a competitive edge in the export markets by focusing on quality. The customer’s user experience is at the heart of Merivaara’s quality culture. The starting point for this culture is that healthcare professionals need not expend their energy on any other issue except caring for the patient. At the most demanding moments, a patient’s life can be at stake in an operating theatre and the surgeons and nurses need to be able to fully focus on using their expertise. Marketing Director Josefin Hoviniemi uses the intelligent operating room (OR) management system developed by Merivaara as an example. “An OR can have many user interfaces, for example the wall panel, computer keyboards or the user interfaces for individual devices. From the user’s point of view, the design of all these has never been thought out in a common manner, either logically or visually. Too often the user needs to think which button should I press this time”, says Hoviniemi. In the operating room system we developed, there is a common user interface for multiple devices. When the user learns how to interface with one of the devices, learning the others becomes much easier. Functions are clear, logical and consistent.”

Intuitive functionality In addition to having a clear user interface, the system has built-in automation to make the users’ life easier. These functions include the air conditioning, which is important for infection control and has a major role in the surgical team’s work endurance. The surgeons and their assistants can become uncomfortably hot under their protective gowns at the same time as cold air is blowing down their necks. People can lose their ability to concentrate. “Air flow is commonly described by referring to air pressure differences in pascal units. Of course the building engineer knows all about measuring in pascals, but why should the healthcare professional focusing on patients need to think the same way”, says R&D Director Jyrki Nieminen. One of the key decisions the surgical staff make is classifying the risk level of the patient. With an intelligent system, the air flow is automatically adjusted based on whether the patient’s risk level is normal, high or the patient is at risk of infection.

In nature, things are simple and intuitively correct. When under pressure, as people often are in a hospital, people need to be able to interact intuitively with equipment. When performing an exacting task, the operator should not have to constantly think how the equipment is operated”, Nieminen says.

Proud to be from Finland Merivaara’s hospital furnishings are well known and widely admired. The company still delivers hospital beds and stretchers, but in recent years the focus has shifted to designing operating room solutions. The majority of the factory’s output is exported. “Our products have been bought by over a hundred countries world-wide and are in use in such exotic locations as Norway’s Svalbard, Easter Island and New Zealand. In some countries we are even the market leader. We are proud that our internationally successful health technology equipment are manufactured in Finland”, concludes Hoviniemi.

Industrial design can also impact air ventilation. The traditional operating table surgical light is a massive structure which prevents air recycling properly. Merivaara has introduced a next-generation surgical light which allows unhindered airflow and helps reduce the risk of infection.


Partnering for a competitive edge Co-creation, a new way of organizing activities, is rapidly being adopted globally. Innokas Medical and Care Fusion are using it – and getting good results.

“Creating new, competitive products and services at a fast rate is becoming increasing challenging. The companies that are unable to change their mindsets and organizations are doomed to failure.” So claims Jouni Toijala, the new CEO at Innokas Medical, who has long experience in management for diverse industries. In his opinion, health technology is facing the same changes which have challenged other industrial sectors: everything is getting much more complicated. The fundamental impetus for changing business models is the rapid development of technology due to digitalization. Apart from the launch of ever more complex new products, software development is continuously bringing new features to existing products. The impact of software is growing and wireless features are increasing.

Pictures: Martti Ahlstén

Usability highlighted Through experiences with consumer devices, people now appreciate ease-of-use. When a healthcare professional goes to work he would now like the same level of usability from professional equipment. The fact that a device is complicated is not an excuse for the lack of a good user interface”, claims Jouni Toijala. Adding to the difficulties is that healthcare devices are expensive investments with a long lifespan. Even though improved generations of devices may be launched, the customer is not always able to afford the investment required. For these reasons, older hardware needs to be software upgradable and even have new functionality installed via software. As more intelligence is added, the original processes of the equipment need to be able to cope with an ever more complex entirety. “When one further adds the burdensome and complicated regulation governing health technology, one has a very complex equation to solve.”

Innokas seeks partners Jouni Toijala says that the solution to these issues is co-creation, an organizational model which brings together all the participants from end-users to experts for the development of new products or services. The end result is a better outcome than in the traditional organization, where a company designs a product, manufactures it, or subcontracts manufacturing, and then markets the product to the customer. In co-creation, all parties have a competitive edge and all are able to add more value than in the earlier model.


Innokas Medical’s Project Managers Katri Halla-Aho and Petri Pelkonen check the performance of a VC150 patient monitor under durability testing.

Senior Engineer in Usability, Minna Eskola from Innokas Medical and R&D Director, Janne Ranta from CareFusion test a sensor developed for neonatal temperature monitoring.

In a complex world, an equipment manufacturer may not be able to recruit the right expertise at the right time in order, despite the fact that it intends to keep full control of a project. As a result, such a company will not remain competitive. The co-creation model emphasizes cooperation and the company selects the partners it needs in order to ensure the needed expertise is available. Toijala believes that use of the co-creation model will spread in health technology. Innokas has already changed its processes to fit this new organizational culture. The former traditional contract manufacturer and designer now seeks and offers partnerships.

CareFusion Finland values regulatory expertise One company that practices co-creation is CareFusion. For five years Innokas has partnered with CareFusion, not just fulfilling the role of subcontractor. Part of global health technology company Becton Dickinson, CareFusion’s Finnish subsidiary markets and develops cables, sensors, breathing tubes and other supplies or accessories which connect a monitor or an anesthesia machine to a patient.

Training session for new recruits. CareFusion willingly hires trainees of various nationalities.

Products from the Finnish division are sold globally and the division is responsible for around 1500 items.

“We did not partner with Innokas just because they are good engineers. That kind of expertise is available elsewhere, too. Innokas also offers regulatory expertise. Our products are defined as medical devices and are therefore covered by complex regulations. We need a partner who can work with quality systems and one who understands regulatory requirements,” CareFusion’s R&D Director Janne Ranta explains.

As well as partnering on R&D projects, Innokas and CareFusion have arranged innovation workshops and brainstormed new ideas. In addition, Innokas has actively sought new potential partners for CareFusion from its existing partner network.

New push into international markets

Innokas Medical is the only subcontractor in Finland specializing in health technology. The company counts numerous successful brands amongst its customers. Recently, Innokas has made significant steps in business development from the point of view of internationalization and growth initiatives. Further strengthening Innokas’ international customer base, the company has signed agreements with new clients overseas. Earlier, Innokas’ foreign clients have primarily been divisions of Finnish companies overseas; these new agreements have been made with entirely new international clients. There has been new activity on the R&D front, too. Innokas has just finalized its Carescope VC150 patient monitor development program with GE Healthcare. The monitor has received marketing clearances and Innokas continues its partnership with GE Healthcare by manufacturing the monitors. Innokas is also responsible for the monitor’s maintenance and after-sales support, training and a spare part service. Innokas has also reserved future R&D resources for the project.


Team Finland at Slush showcasing their services in attracing investments and supporting export growth. Picture: Slush / Sami Heiskanen

Finland is open for investment in the Life Sciences and Healthcare Industry Few countries have woken up to the potential for growth in the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry like Finland has. The country has taken a unique, determined approach to tearing down the barriers to research and new foreign investment. The importance of promoting private investment in the Health and Life Sciences sectors is widely supported in Finnish society, witnessed by the adoption of a national growth strategy in 2014. A key takeaway from Finland’s growth strategy for health is that it is not just a government initiative – the voice of business was sought, heard and understood.

Innovation-friendly legislation enacted In 2013, Finland’s Biobank Act came into force. The ability to integrate genomic, clinical and demographic data expands the biobank concept from biomedicine research to drug effectiveness, health economics, and beyond. Finland is now in a unique position to allow the launch of commercial genome services and it is no surprise that even the largest companies are showing keen interest. In 2015, Turku-based Auria was the first Finnish biobank to sign a collaboration contract with a global life sciences’ player, Bayer Pharma AG. This was just the beginning. In the past year, Finnish biobanks have initiated collaboration with multiple global enterprises, including Roche, Pfizer, Biogen Eisai and MSD.

Invest in the Finnish digital revolution Finland offers investors a highly educated workforce, high-class research, 100%-electronic patient record keeping – together with clinical and genomic databanks, some with over a 100 years of data. Finns are traditionally willing to participate in medical research, too. There are over 500 companies in Finland operating in health technology, eHealth, biotech, genomics research – as well as big pharma. Dozens of multinational enterprises have invested in manufacturing and R&D in Finland, particularly in the fields of medical equipment and in vitro diagnostics over the past two decades. Now, however, there’s something new happening: digitalization is coming to healthcare and the wider life sciences. Digitalization will put the citizen at the center of health processes – making disease prevention as important as cure, bringing care from the hospital to the home. This is what we call digital health – and in Finland it is happening now. With a famous Nokia legacy, Finland has the highest number of digital health startups relative to the size of the country. GE Healthcare recently chose Helsinki as its global digital health development center – proof that Finland comes out top in tight international comparisons.


Finpro – a single call point for trade and inward investment Finpro is the Finnish government agency charged with accelerating trade and investment. Nora Kaarela, Head of Health Industry at Finpro says, “Health is one of the sectors the government is spearheading, which makes the health sector our focus area as well. We have substantially increased our activities to attract new foreign direct investment. Finland already has all the essential elements in place. Sensor knowhow, miniaturization and ICT expertise combined with best clinical practices create an attractive environment for digital health. All told, Finland is a hugely attractive location for R&D activities.” Päivi Sillanaukee, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health helped open doors on the mission. Discussing with invitees from Singapore is Marko Kärkkäinen from Maricare Oy. Picture: Finpro / Paula Kivistö

Programs to support growth and exports Finpro has three programs to promote exports and attract investments to Finland. The Digital Hospitals program aims to network Finnish companies and put together a joint offering for hospital projects. In addition to health technology companies offering medical equipment and software, companies from the construction sector are also participating. The aim is to be able to participate in international tenders for hospital projects which seek a turn-key provider. The goal of the Digital Hospitals export program is to increase the exports of the participating companies by 100 million euro over the next ten years. Scandinavia, where around 30 billion euro is projected to be spent on hospital construction and refurbishment, has been selected as the first target market. The FinlandCare program is designed for companies which offer healthcare and wellness services as well as related technology, software, aids and

other equipment. The aim of the program is to increase the awareness and desirability of Finnish health and wellness services in international markets, promote sales and raise the sector’s competitiveness. The program is a door-opener and facilitates vital contact-making in the health and welfare ministries and to other decision-makers in the target markets. Initially, the markets are Russia, the EU and ETA countries, the Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China and SouthEast Asia. Team Finland Health is a program which covers the whole health sector including health technology, the pharmaceutical industry and research activities in the welfare sector. Based on Finland’s joint growth strategy for research and innovation activities in the health sector, the goal of the program is to attract health sector investments to Finland and support export growth.

Picture: Juha Sarkkinen


Saving newborn babies with screening Newborn and maternity screening is preventative healthcare at its best. It is cost-effective and saves many families from immense tragedy.

With headquarters in the USA and operating in 150 countries, PerkinElmer is a global company. One of the company’s largest diagnostics research and manufacturing facilities operates in Turku, Finland, other centers are in the USA, China and Sweden. PerkinElmer operates in the business areas of human and environmental health. The site in Turku is the company’s center of expertise for in vitro diagnostic research and disease screening – including the manufacture of equipment and reagents, as well as software development. Fifteen years ago, the Turku site made the decision to focus on preventative screening. Janne Seppälä, R&D site leader, says that the key competency at the Turku site is their grasp of complete systems in this field. “We have traditionally had a very strong understanding of immune-chemistry here in Turku. In recent years we have invested in mass spectrometer and molecular diagnostic methodologies and succeeded in harnessing these technologies for screening.”


For newborns, screening is best According to Marika Kase, Global Business Director, PerkinElmer is the worldwide market leader in screening of newborns for rare, but serious, disorders. Most babies with these disorders look perfectly healthy when just born. It is therefore necessary to test all newborns in order to identify those at risk. For these babies, early detection and treatment for their disorders can be vital. Screening allows for treatment to be initiated before symptoms appear and healthy development of the child. “For a long time in Finland, the only defect newborns were screened for was thyroid deficiency. Today, however, we screen for over twenty congenital diseases, many of which are metabolic diseases. Through screening we can find those diseases which, without treatment, can lead to severe disability or even be fatal. When properly treated, however, many of these diseases hardly affect the child’s daily life”, she says.

In Finland, one, sometimes two, children are born with severe combined immuno-deficiency (SCID) annually. This is the disease behind the “Bubble Boy” headlines in newspapers. The cost of treatment for these patients can rise to a million euro each, despite their short life-span. These children can be forced to spend their entire short lives in a hospital isolation unit. Through screening, SCID cases can be picked up at an early stage. When appropriate treatment is started promptly, a child with SCID can develop a normal immune system and will be cured for life from fatal disorder. “SCID is still not screened for in Finland, but hopefully it can be included in the national guidelines in the near future.”

Comprehensive maternal screening In recent years, new technologies have been adopted for maternal screening. The goal of maternal screening is to more comprehensively assess the health of both the mother and baby, already in the first trimester of the pregnancy.

Screening of newborns requires just a tiny blood sample, obtained by pricking the heel of the infant. The blood sample is taken as routine, with parental consent. Picture: Shutterstock. Other pictures on this page: PerkinElmer.

“One of the latest advances is a screening test for pre-eclampsia. A simple blood sample test can now help identify mothers who are at a higher than normal risk of pre-eclampsia and who would benefit most from preventative treatments”, says Anna Godenhjelm, Global Business Director. Earlier, prenatal screening focused almost exclusively on testing for Down Syndrome. However, pre-eclampsia is a leading cause of complications – both for the mother and the baby – and is a lot more prevalent that Down Syndrome. A new test is being developed for Down Syndrome. In non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for Down Syndrome, fetal DNA will be extracted from the mother’s circulating blood and analyzed. The goal for NIPT will be to detect 99% of the pregnancies involving Down Syndrome, out of the mothers tested.

Growth strongest in Asian markets “PerkinElmer employs 550 people in Turku, out of the total of 8,000 employed world-wide. The parent company’s turnover has grown to $2.3 billion U.S. annually. The diverse expertise of our staff, biochemists, laboratory assistants, mechanical, electronics and software designers is the basis for continued growth”, says Janne Seppälä. “One of the factors behind the success of PerkinElmer’s Turku facility is its command of international regulatory affairs. The regulatory requirements for granting marketing authorizations vary to some degree all over the world. Over the years we have accumulated the requisite expertise to launch new products on global markets, including taking care of all of the required documentation.”

Each year, around 130 million children are born world-wide. Of these, around 37 million are screened using PerkinElmer tests developed in Turku. Asia is one of PerkinElmer’s main growth areas for both pregnancy and newborn tests. “In China alone, more than 10 million newborns were screened last year using tests from PerkinElmer. This business is also growing, both in terms of the number of babies screened and the number of conditions tested for. Over the years, approximately 520 million babies have been screened using PerkinElmer’s newborn screening solutions”, Kase summarizes.


Finnish technology network gives impetus to drug development Finland has put together a collaborative network of in vitro diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies under the leadership of the Finnish health technology company Medix Biochemica. The aim of the network is to develop an operating model combining diagnostic testing with digital tools. Ultimately, the goal is to accelerate drug development – both in Finland and globally. The program is funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. This new program, called Companion Diagnostics, also includes Fimmic and Finbiosoft which offer the digital services needed for the analysis, validation, storing and sharing of the results of Medix Biochemica’s diagnostic tests. These digital services will be tailorable to the requirements of the regulatory authorities in individual countries.When finalized, the operating model and the network’s expertise will be marketed to the global pharmaceutical industry. The first product being developed under this new operating model is a diagnostic test intended to accelerate the development of a drug for the treatment of endometriosis (a disease involving the uterine lining). The diagnostic test is being used by the Finnish pharmaceutical company Forendo Pharma in its internal product development and for its clinical trials.

Jani Huttunen (left), Kari Pitkänen and Juuso Juhila examine digitalized colorectal cancer cells using WebMicroscope® software. Picture: Martti Ahlstén


When the drug has been granted market authorization, it is intended that the diagnostic test be used for individualized treatment planning and monitoring of treatment efficacy. There is also the potential for the test to be marketed by Medix Biochemica as one of their proprietary diagnostic tests. The program will initiate early cooperation with hospitals and central laboratories performing clinical research and clinical data collection. It will be important to clarify the regulatory and technological requirements the pharmaceutical industry places on the use of diagnostics as part of the program. Ideally, the program will succeed in defining a business model for the Finnish diagnostics sector which will allow it to serve the interests of both its global in vitro diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry clients.

Bringing pharmaceutical and clinical research back to Finland As demand for personalized medicine grows, the role of diagnostics in health care will strengthen. Tailoring treatment to the needs of the individual patient is a universal trend. Personalized treatment is only possible when precision diagnostics are used prior to the treatment selection. Also, treatment can potentially be more effective when the patient’s response to a drug can be monitored during a course of treatment. “We have started to build the network based on a diagnostic test for endometriosis. However, once we have developed the operating model, it will not depend on any particular disease.

Medix Biochemica has developed a rapid test reader. Both at the point-of-care and in the central laboratory, the Actim 1ngeni makes testing simple and reliable. Picture: Medix Biochemica

The network and the diagnostic expertise developed can be offered to any drug developer, regardless of the therapeutic field,” says Juuso Juhila, R&D Manager at Medix Biochemica. “We believe that the network we are building in Finland will be of interest to drug developers and the pharmaceutical industry, because it can significantly shorten their time to market.” Project Director Pasi Koskimies at Forendo Pharma says that for market authorization, a new drug needs to demonstrate a better efficacy-safety profile, compared to the existing drugs on the market. In clinical trials for a new drug it is therefore important to recruit patients who are more likely to respond to the new potential treatment. The more carefully we can screen for patients who might benefit from a new potential treatment, the greater the chance of success. At the same time, diagnostic screening might allow pharmaceutical companies to lower their now enormous drug development costs. “Clinical trials in Finland have declined dramatically over the last ten years. The Companion Diagnostics program offers a way to reverse this trend, so the potential for the program is of national importance. We offer a partner network which develops diagnostic tests to screen for patients who are more likely to respond to a new drug. And in addition to the diagnostics, other companies in our network offer the necessary IT services and regulatory expertise for complex clinical data handling and long-term storage.”

Significant future potential Medix Biochemica, the company leading the Companion Diagnostics program develops, manufactures and markets rapid diagnostic tests, as well as the antibodies and antigens – and related services – for the global in vitro diagnostics industry. The company’s product development and manufacturing are based on state-of-the-art biotechnology methods. Medix was one of the first companies in the world to commercially manufacture monoclonal antibodies. Finbiosoft is a software company that develops solutions for clinical diagnostics. Currently, Finbiosoft focuses on the development of a validation management system. “We have been able to reengineer an oldfashioned, demanding and laborious job into a fully digital and automated process. It makes validation of diagnostic test performance simple and efficient. We launched the system last year and we soon signed significant customers. Right now there is no real competition, as other companies have yet to achieve the same functionality,” CEO Jani Huttunen says. Fimmic, a digital virtual microscopy company has developed software that is able to share large, gigabyte-sized scanned images of tissue slides. “We are currently working on a secondgeneration version of our software

which includes a deep-learning -based image analysis algorithm platform. With this platform, and using wellannotated images from comprehensive image banks as reference data, machine learning can be utilized to identify specified characteristics (e.g. cancer cells) of digitized tissue slides. In the future, our system will be able to identify various features, for example, cancer or endometriosis from digitized tissue slides, will be able to classify them and will be able to automatically evaluate selected areas of the imaged tissue,” Kari Pitkänen Director, Business Development at Fimmic envisions. Forendo Pharma’s core competence is the development of new therapies targeting organ-specific hormonal mechanisms, for both men and women diagnosed with hormone-dependent diseases. The company’s core team consists of academic experts in endocrinology as well as recognized industry pioneers in Finnish pharmaceutical research. ”The Companion Diagnostics program is a fantastic opportunity for all of us,” company representatives enthuse.

Endometriosis is a poorly understood disease and, at its worst, is very difficult to treat. Forendo Pharma chose to focus on endometriosis drug research because of its large commercial potential world-wide. Picture: Forendo Pharma HEALTHTECH HEALTHTECHI I25 25

Finland’s exports of health technology grew 6.6% to a new record of 1.92 billion euro in 2015 Driven by strong growth in exports of in vitro diagnostic products and reagents, health technology industry enjoyed a record trade year in 2015. With exports continuing to grow faster than imports, Finland’s trade surplus in health technology trade widened to a record 896 million euro. Health technology is now Finland’s largest hi-tech sector and the only significant hi-tech business where Finland enjoys a notable trade surplus. In health technology, Finland has achieved long-term export growth while generating significant and growing trade surpluses. A twenty-year analysis, including the years prior to adoption of the euro, shows average growth in exports of 6.2%. Over the last two decades, exports have increased five-fold and the trade balance has increased ten-fold. In 2015, Finnish exports of health technology products rose to 1.92 billion euro in 2015, an increase of 6.6% over the prior year.

New export milestones Medical equipment remains, by far, the largest segment of Finland’s health technology exports. In 2015, exports of medical equipment rose 4% to 1.35 billion euro. Medical equipment continues to bring in the lion’s share of the trade balance, contributing 89% of the net amount. Within the medical equipment sector, increased demand for electromedical and other devices, saw exports exceed 1 billion euro for the first time. Exports of in vitro diagnostics grew 16%, led by 21% growth in exports of reagents. In total, exports of in vitro diagnostics equipment and reagents were more than 500 million euro for the first time, with strong demand from China continuing.

America demands Finnish The largest single market for Finland’s health technology exports in 2015 was the USA, accounting for 36% of the total. Collectively, the countries of Europe took another 36% of total exports – with Germany, France and the UK being the major destinations. Although exports to other European countries grew only slightly overall, exports to Germany increased an impressive 11% in 2015 and Germany now accounts for 8% of total exports.

Exports to China jump Following on from growth of 24% in 2014, exports to the USA increased a further 16% in 2015. Although growth in exports to the USA was bolstered by a weaker euro in 2015, real growth is estimated to have averaged an impressive 12% over the last two years. In 2015 the strongest growth in demand was seen from China. Exports to China rose 35% and, together, China and Hong Kong now account for 8% of total exports. Exports to Russia declined by one-third, in line with the decline in the value of the ruble, and made 2% of total exports.


” ”

Healthtech is Finland’s largest hi-tech sector

USA is Finland’s largest customer

Key Figures

milllion euro

Finland’s trade in health technology 1996–2015 2000


1800 1600 1400 1200 Imports


Trade balance

800 600 400 200 2015





















Health technology exports by country and area 2015



Europe 35.5% China inc. Hong Kong 7.7% Latin America




Russia 2.4% Canada 2.3% Japan


Middle East


Others 3.7%

Source: Finnish Customs Board.


FiHTA is a community serving its members The Finnish Health Technology Association (FiHTA) is an association for companies operating in the health technology industry. Membership is growing steadily. FiHTA is an active influencer and communicator and lobbies on issues important for our members, but above all we are a community: we foster our industry’s growth, expertise and research, as well as further professional development and our collective knowledge. Our expert services comprise advisory, informational, transactional, intermediary and educational services. Membership offers access to the Conforlex web-based information service which offers news and up-to-date information on international regulatory affairs and standards, as well as changes in related requirements.

Current members eHealth and telemedicine Abomics I Acute FDS I Ascom Miratel I BC Platforms I DISE digital signage software I Ikoni Online I Kide Clinical Systems I Mawell I Medixine I Mylab I Nokia Technologies I Onesys Medical I RemoteA

Picture: ThinkStockPhoto

Care and rehab Bioretec I Diter I Evondos I HLD Healthy Life Devices I HUR I Modulight I Onbone I Relaxbirth I Serres I Sooma Medical I Stick Tech I Velkon Healthcare I Valon Lasers In vitro diagnostics and laboratory solutions Biohit Healthcare I Labsystems Diagnostics I Medix Biochemica I Mendor I MODZ I Sartorius Biohit Liquid Handling I Thermo Fisher Scientific I PerkinElmer Measurement, monitoring and imaging I Bone Index I Clothing+ I Delfin Technologies I Elekta I Emfit I GE Healthcare Finland I Icare Finland I Injeq I Medieta I Medikro I Mediracer I Mega Electronics I Nexstim I Ocuspecto I Optomed I Optomeditech I Palodex Group I Philips Medical Systems MR Finland I Planmeca I Polar Electro I Seniortek I Spektikor Sterilization, furnishings and logistics Ecosir Group I Franke Medical I Genano I Isku Interior I Kavika I Kojair Tech I Lojer I Merivaara I NewIcon I Nordic Hug I Medanta Sector-specific services Aidertech I Atostek I Clinius I Conforman I Crown CRO I Desigence I Elomatic I EOS Finland I Espotel I Etteplan Design Center I Innokas Medical I Innomentarium I Kasve I Lewel Group I Mariachi I Mectalent Medical Services I Mectalent I Medfiles I M-Files I Nextfour Group I OptoFidelity I SGS Fimko EMC I Taipuva Consulting I Takso Software I VTT Expert Services Accelerator organizations Business Oulu I Finnmedi I HealthSPA I Kuopio Innovation I M1 Capital I Helsinki Business Hub

More information

Join us!