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Known for its ageing population as well as its disruptive technology, Japan is compelled to invest in MedTech

MedTech is a promising revolution in Japan

With a quarter of its nationals over 65 years old, Japan’s is the oldest world population; hence, the resulting demographic gap is a constant preoccupation for its government, as birth rates are steadily low and immigration is difficult due to cultural and administrative barriers. The ‘generational’ challenge has reached a key level: while in the foreseeable future a growing number of elderly people will require more care, there will just not be enough caretakers.

As the healthcare system is facing ever-stronger financial and social pressure, the development of innovative MedTech alternative solutions is critical to address the issue. Which is why research in fields including artificial intelligence and virtual reality is topping the priority list of innovators, as well as corporations and investors.

According to a recent McKinsey report, MedTech may not only help solve healthcare problems but also induce more competitivity and productivity in the country. After all, Japan is the third largest medical device producer globally, though it is still struggling to be among the most innovative technology-driven ones. Capital is available – Japanese companies hold an estimated US$ 2,4 trillion in cash, just waiting to find the right investment.

Over three-quarters of the top 20 largest companies in Japan are already investing or making acquisitions in the sector. In the last few years, alongside the major automotive industry giants, blue chip corporations including Canon, Konica and Nikon have invested billions in healthcare technology.

While the market has been moving, other stakeholders are pushing forward their Research and Development policies in order to build resources for the upcoming MedTech revolution. Initiatives like Japan Biodesign, a medtech fellowship program which gather universities to support aspiring innovators, and the Japan Organization for Medical Device Development (JOMDD), a private venture firm and incubator focused in medtech projects, are only two examples of the efforts that many actors are now putting into the sector.

Yet, there are some challenges the MedTech revolution has to overcome before it turns into reality. Most importantly, Japan, where failure is not an option, must significantly foster and stimulate entrepreneurial spirit, without which no new business can survive and succeed.

MedTech is one of the main topics of discussion at SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which will take place in Tokyo on 18-19 September, 2019. Want to know more about this game changing event? Click here to register!

Medical technology, or MedTech, brings solutions to improve lives using the latest advancements in technology. It is an evolving concept that combines innovative, high technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of things, nanorobotics, big data and even Blockchain to tackle the biggest challenges in medicine over the last decades. Overall, it has developed a more human, inclusive approach that aims to provide health for all.

Medical conditions and healthcare are being transformed by the disruptive and break ground technologies used by health professionals that are changing the lives after a rough diagnose or an accident. The main objective is to give back to the patient a certain level of the original quality of life by improving, replacing or simulating a physical characteristic close to the genuine one, in order to maintain the respective functionality and/or appearance. This aims to restore dignity and contribute to social inclusion. Therefore, here I will list the top 5 most impacting tools, methods and procedures that have been already implemented successfully in patients and have reached a satisfactory progress and rise in their quality of life.

3D printed body parts

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine prints ear, nose and bone scaffolds that can be coated with cells to grow body parts. (Laurie Rubin)

3D printing started to gain awareness in the past years, as engineers and designers started using this tool to create the unthinkable. This technology has been around for two decades; fortunately, the price has come down in recent years and more people have been able to make use of it. Consequently, we’ve started to be able to really tap into its vast potential.  

One really exciting application of 3D printing is the generation of body parts. The level of detail that this technology can produce often overcomes traditional methods results, offering patients a superior fit or design, and they can often be produced at an impressively low cost.

Virtual Reality for Medical experience and education

Dr. Shafi Ahmed wears a VR headset as he operates on a fictional patient as part of the Virtual Surgeon program his company designed.

On April 14, 2016, the British doctor Shafi Ahmed performed the world’s first operation broadcasted around the world via virtual reality.

The entire operation, which lasted approximately three hours, was live-streamed on Medical Realities website for people without a VR headset. For those who have one, they could download the “VR in OR” app to get immersed in the 360-degree surgery room, right beside Ahmed as he removed cancerous tissue from a male patient’s bowel.

The surgery began at 1 p.m. local time at the Royal London Hospital. Thanks to a partnership between Barts Health and the 360-degree video company Mativision, the broadcast will serve as a training tool for up-and-coming surgeons and other medical professionals. Rather than endure an expensive flight to a hospital for on-site education, students can tune into VR and still see firsthand how it’s done.

Food Scanners

Food scanners

A food scanner is designed to tell how many grams of sugar a fruit contains, or what the alcohol percentage of a drink is. Even though this is one of the most recent inventions that still needs adjustments in its different brands, it has been a powerful tool for people with gluten intolerance and diabetes to overcome fears at the time of eating and choosing food.

Food scanners will need to progress similarly to wearable health trackers – move from raw data to automated analysis and smart suggestions to the user.

Nanorobotics

Nanorobotics

Surgical nanorobots are introduced into the human body through vascular systems and other cavities. They act as semi-autonomous on-site surgeon inside the human body and are programmed or directed by a human surgeon. The programmed surgical nanorobot performs various functions like searching for pathogens, and then diagnose and correct lesions by nano-manipulation synchronized by an onboard computer while conserving and contacting the supervisory surgeon through coded ultrasound signals. Nowadays, the earlier forms of cellular nano-surgery are being explored.

 

Prosthetic parts

Printed skin made as face prosthesis

One of the bigger advancements in MedTech that have promoted social inclusion is all kinds of prosthesis either for humans or animals. Prosthesis comprehends a large diversity of technologies that contribute to the final result. 3D printing is used to recreate physical appearance as AI to recreate motion and dexterity.

The skin is technically the largest organ in the human body and thanks to 3D printing, it is possible to replicate it if needed. This can actually be done by taking a sample of DNA and growing stem cells to create a material to ‘print’ with. In the past, in order to perform a skin transplant, one would have to remove a patch from another part of the patient’s body. It might be a painful process and creates an additional unnecessary wound. It is officially possible to 3D-Print skin and transfer it onto patients but within a few years, will be even possible to have the capability to Scan and 3D-Print directly over the wound with just one machine.

With these MedTech solutions, healthcare is rapidly advancing not only to expand the variety of options to patients but to restore and improve the confidence and quality life conditions of them. A human being needs to feel useful in society to contribute and participate by its own means of them. That is why MedTech plays a fundamental role in integrating every individual as a needed and valuable member in the society.

Written by Sueyfer de la Torre

SIGEF 2018, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum organized by Horyou, will include a special panel on MedTech. SIGEF2018 will take place in Singapore, on 12th and 13th September.

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is a reference in MedTech and new technologies as indeed Singapore aims to be at the upfront of a promising market with the right setup to attract both investors and innovators.

(Photo: RENDY ARYANTO/VisualVerve.SG)

Singapore is home to more than 60 MedTech companies which are mainly focused on research to develop new and innovative health care approaches. It is, indeed, a promising market. According to the Singapore Economic Development Board, the Asian medical technology market is expected to be the world’s second-largest by 2020, with a promise of a better life expectancy and quality of life.

In the last few years, the government has made a big effort to build a welcoming infrastructure for these businesses, either by investing in patient care based on a talent pool with big data and analytics skills, or by developing a supportive ecosystem which counts on research institutions, universities and startups, all of which provides the MedTech companies with a rich and fruitful research and development hub.

This ecosystem allows for companies like Tictrac – an app developing company which focuses on tracking health data and giving tips and information to its users -, to come up with solutions for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases. In a recent interview, Martin Blinder, Tictrac CEO, confided that: “It is for people to find reliable information about the best way to reduce risk and improve their health. After meeting their doctor, people go home with some very high-level information, often go online and end up finding a lot of contradictory information or dangerous fat diets”. The company has a partnership with the Singaporean Ministry of Health, which aims to use more technology to prevent and manage diseases.

The successful combination of a friendly environment for MedTech innovation and public-private partnerships has pushed many companies to be more willing to invest in this market. In the last few years, a number of Singaporean IT businesses have set up MedTech operations in order to profit from the market’s good prospects. The electronic manufacturer Venture Corp is one of them and has been shifting their investment to LifeSciences and Medical Technologies, which now represent 43% of their revenues.

In a speech at a MedTech event last year, the Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran stressed the importance of investing in new health care technologies knowing that populations are getting old and that artificial intelligence is taking over most industries. “We know that the nature of jobs is changing profoundly, as technology and automation play an increasing role in driving innovation and operations,” he said. “We need to transform our societies and economies to become more age-friendly, and turn longevity into a positive force for economic and social development.”

The host city of SIGEF2018 next September is thus the perfect place to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. Organized by Horyou, it will include a special panel on MedTech.

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) and its side event 4YFN, have some successful experiences to share with the social good sector

The Mobile World Congress took place from 25-28 February, 2019

Until a few years ago, the social good world was considered as a unique entity, completely separated from the regular businesses. Although it had common goals with the public sector, it was then clear that the ‘charitables’ or ‘non-profits’ shared few traits with the for-profit industries. The good news is, these times are over. Last week, as I dug in two most disruptive conferences, the MWC and 4YFN, I learned not only that social businesses have never been more interesting to the tech industries, but that they have many lessons to learn about them. Here are some the tech industry takeaways for social entrepreneurs:

They want to invest in social businesses – Regardless of industry, many big corporations have substantial open innovation budgets to invest in startups that bring positive change in their businesses. Clean energy, sustainable mobility, simplified and accessible payment projects, affordable healthcare, all of these are examples of areas that are in the radar of big companies. There was never a better time for social businesses to be funded and supported by for-profit businesses.

Accountability and Traceability are the future – As we’ve been seeing with the many Blockchain projects that have been developed in the last few years – going from cryptocurrencies like HoryouToken with its Proof of Impact to Smart Contracts that bring transparency to documents – traceability is key and, luckily, more accessible than ever. The future lies in trustworthy information, as consumers want to know more about the supply chain of their food, clothes, medicines…

Don’t be afraid of Artificial Intelligence – One of the most awaited events of the MWC was a live medical procedure – a live surgery performed by a surgeon on the stage of MWC, while the patient was at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona. The new technologies will allow exchanges that were almost impossible in the past, due to geographic barriers, distances and broadband limitations.

Internet of Bodies and Biohacking – I witnessed, shocked, a volunteer had a chip implanted in his own hand, live on stage. It now allows him to make payments or open doors with his ‘intra-device’, but the possibilities of the biohacking technology go far beyond that. It can help disabled people to be less dependent on carers, for example, and has a huge potential in developing solutions for dementia patients.

The Industry of Care – As populations are becoming long-lived in many countries, the industry of care has brought promising technological solutions. From apps that connect healthcare workers with families, providing traceable and monitored care to non-invasive procedures for chronic patients that use wearable devices to prevent hospitalizations, there is a range of affordable MedTech solutions that were developed by successful, social-good-oriented startups.

Do you want to share your social innovation solution with the world? Horyou, the social network for social good, is the perfect platform to do so. Be the change, be Horyou.

Horyou has always aimed to bring the best to its community. As a member of the Horyou team, I’m happy to highlight some of the most important facts, actions and events that have marked 2018:

Time to celebrate!

– The launch of HoryouToken, the Token for Inclusion and Sustainability, built on the concept of Blockchain with a Purpose. It’s a major step in Horyou’s history, considering that Blockchain is an innovative, groundbreaking technology that has the potential to benefit hundreds of millions of people worldwide. HoryouToken is now listed at LAToken and CoinTiger. Click here for more information and see our interview to Cointelegraph.

The 5th edition of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which took place in Singapore, the innovation oriented metropolis in Southeast Asia. This year’s programme was one of the most technology-driven editions of SIGEF, addressing such issues as MedTech, Fintech and Blockchain, Smart Cities and Future Technology, Impact Investing, Future Energy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and setting a trend for the next SIGEFs to come. See the SIGEF at a glance video on our YouTube channel.

SIGEF 2018 took place in Singapore

– Horyou’s growing global presence through networking events, international conferences and its continuously expanding community comprised of organizations, personalities and change makers! Horyou’s founder and CEO, Yonathan Parienti, started the year speaking about Sustainable Financing Alternatives at WSIS Forum 2018, and ended it with an interview on the Blockchain Media as a personality on the Blockchain Industry.

Yonathan Parienti speaks at WSIS Forum

– The strengthening of Horyou partnerships with new ones we welcomed throughout the year!

What’s to come?

The Horyou Team is excited and busy working on new projects for 2019! We are proud to announce:

– A Disruptive Innovation Media project that will bring news about Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Technology and Science, Innovative Entrepreneurship and more themes that are changing the world as we know it.

– SIGEF 2019, to be held in Tokyo, Japan. Asia will be welcoming Horyou with open arms and helping our community to become even more global.

– Horyou Team will be present in Davos during the World Economic Forum, conducting meetings with international friends and future partners. If you go there, feel free to reach out!

HoryouToken

– More partnerships, events and networking projects supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, economic inclusion and social entrepreneurship all around the world.

Stay tuned to our blog, our social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube) and Horyou, the social network for social good. And a Happy New Year to all of you, members, partners and friends!

In an era of disruptive change, innovation and creativity are pivotal in the process of working together to find the right solutions to the challenges that it inevitably triggers.

Panel about the Sustainable Development Goals (SIGEF 2018 – Singapore)

The world is changing. While the realm of technology and information is expanding, many of us feel we are entering a new era that yet needs to be decrypted. I, myself, feel that my way of doing journalism is nothing short of obsolete, while many newsrooms nowadays rely on bots and digital engines to do part of the news-hunting that human beings would still be doing a not so long while ago. But journalists are not the only ones concerned. In Bangladesh, many workers are being deemed redundant in the apparel industry as machines are now performing their manual tasks. Likewise in Switzerland where pharmaceutical companies are firing at arm’s length due to the disruptive competition from MedTech startups. Which leaves me wondering if there really are ways to prevent the rise of unemployment, social unrest and poverty that these trends imply?

Yes, there are; and I am confident about that. The above examples are all picked off the media which, as we know, tend to be quite fussy about automation and robotics; but there is always a brighter side to things. Like, instead of the ‘robots are stealing human jobs’ speech, why not develop a ‘technology is helping us to work and live better’ discourse? From small villages in Africa to high-tech compounds in Europe, social innovation is a global reality, and it is building in us more hope into finding solutions for a far better quality of life than ever.

Consider SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum organized by Horyou; its 5th edition took place in Singapore, last September. Now a leading global event, SIGEF 2018 showcased examples of how human interactions with technology are liable to generate change for good. It also highlighted future energy solutions, smart cities accomplishments, and medical technology advances, while analyzing positive disruptive effects of Blockchain, and exploring promising areas of impact investing, in resonance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals that are set to shape better times to come.

The event notably introduced the realizations of noteworthy innovators such as Kavita Sinha, from Silver Spring Networks, who founded an NGO which uses brain implants to facilitate the inclusion of children with hearing disabilities, or Thuc Vu, co-founder and CEO of OhmniLabs’, who designed and set up an open innovation platform which calls on collaborations to make robotics more accessible.

In the words of Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou, the social network for social good, organizer of SIGEF, and initiator of HoryouToken, a cryptocurrency based on “Blockchain with a purpose”, SIGEF is a platform for the exchange of ideas and hope, where social innovation thrives to bring “real value for society while supporting constructive initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability and inclusion.” Initiatives like these can bring us together as a global society to share solutions and fast-forward thinking.

Events like SIGEF are crucial to show how social innovation can be initiated by everyone and, in most cases, it is sustainable and profitable. What we have learned after 5 years is that social innovation is a tool against ignorance and intolerance and to help open bridges to a healthier, smarter, and more inclusive society.

Be the change, be Horyou.

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Known for its ageing population as well as its disruptive technology, Japan is compelled to invest in MedTech With a quarter of its nationals over...