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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.

It’s time to share good news about one of the most feared diseases

New technologies and discoveries are making cancer a treatable disease

I remember when I was little, my parents and grandparents would never say the word “cancer”. It sounded like a death threat, a condition so serious that, if only mentioned out loud, could contaminate others. Time has passed and even they started to fear it less: my grandmother had breast and skin cancer and a long, healthy life after treating it; my father-in-law is in remission from a prostate cancer and is planning to go on his third transatlantic trip, confident about what the future might bring. Although cancer remains a serious disease that should be swiftly treated and carefully monitored, the latest discoveries and technologies regarding detection and treatments had made it less terrifying. And on this World Cancer Day, we would like to share some good news:

  • Cervical cancer detection and prevention: more than 100 countries have successfully introduced the vaccine against HPV. It gives a very positive prospect to future cases of cervical cancer, knowing that teenagers are the vaccines’ target audience.

  • Liquid Biopsies: widely used to detect prostate and ovarian cancer cases through a blood test, the liquid biopsy is less invasive and painful than current detection techniques as colonoscopy, needle biopsy and mammography. The FDA has just approved liquid biopsies for lung cancer – and a wider use is to come.

  • Medical cannabis: in 2002, the Netherlands have pioneered the implementation of medical cannabis access programmes to cancer patients. More recently, other European countries have given the green light for this complementary treatment, as well as many US states and countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

  • More drugs available: Cambridge scientists have discovered that more than 50 approved drugs that were not traditionally used to treat cancer have capabilities to kill cancerous cells without harming healthy ones. The researchers found that drugs developed for treating diabetes, reducing inflammation and controlling alcohol addiction were among those with good potential for treating cancer.

  • Recovering capacity: a recent discovery by UK researchers shows that our body has an impressive capacity of recoverage from damage. They found that the lungs of ex-smokers can quickly regenerate and hence reduce the risks of developing cancer.

 

Do you have any good news to share on this World Cancer Day? If so, let the Horyou Community know about it and spread a positive light!

The Horyou Community has much to celebrate – from our global reach to our successful activities, we are proposing effective solutions for better times to come

SIGEF 2019 by Horyou

2020 is starting on a positive note: Horyou is growing bigger, more global, and it is spreading a positive message to the planet and its people. We have much to celebrate, and we would like to share with you the main highlights of the year that has passed:

  • HoryouToken, the digital currency for Inclusion and sustainability, was successfully launched worldwide and presented to the main global Blockchain audiences, in events including WSIS Forum 2019, Matinée Fintech, Blockchain Economic Forum and Chain Plus.

  • The 6th Edition of SIGEF took place last September in Tokyo, one of the worlds’ most innovative metropolis, covering critical global topics like Artificial Intelligence for Positive Change, Fintech and Blockchain, MedTech, SDGs, Sustainable Lifestyles, Sports for Good, Future Energy and Smart Mobility. Extensive converage and info on our SIGEF website.

  • Horyou community has expanded and strengthened its presence in Asia Pacific and Africa. Yonathan Parienti, Horyou’s Founder and CEO, and the Horyou team presented initiatives and shared inspiration in global events including the Future Here Summit, Oxygen 2050, Doing Good, Doing Well and many others.

  • Horyou media presence was stronger and much more diverse – from Asia to the Americas, in Japanese, English, French, Arabic and many more languages, we made our voice heard.

  • Horyou TV launched new documentaries and raised awareness about urgent causes such as Plastic Pollution and Refugees.

  • Our community has grown bigger, with more members, partners and personalities.

2020 full of surprises

The Horyou Team is now preparing its very first projects of 2020. We are proud of what we’ve achieved so far and we will bring even more visibility to our community and our projects this year through:

  • The Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum – SIGEF – will have a special edition in Davos on January 22nd, during the World Economic Forum. Book your tickets and be part of one of the most important international gatherings fostering the UN SDGs, Sustainable Innovation and Blockchain for Good.

  • The next full edition of SIGEF will still take place in Dubai! Follow SIGEF 2020 Twitter account to know more.

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

Follow our blog, our social media channels (TwitterLinkedIn and Youtube) and Horyou, the social network for social good. The Horyou Team wishes a Happy New Year to all of our members and partners around the world!

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.

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