EIT Health selects eye and vision care innovators to receive €3M

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Wild Card open innovation programme selects two teams from Switzerland and Sweden. Teams will now be supported by EIT Health with best-in-class mentoring, coaching, and networking to develop their solution

EIT Health announced their support for two innovator teams following their 2021 Wild Card programme, selecting PeriVision and INVENTION. The two teams, from Switzerland and Sweden respectively, will now be further supported by EIT Health (which is backed by the EU as part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology) over the next two years.

EIT Health will provide the newly formed teams with expert mentoring and coaching, and access to its vast network across Europe. The teams will also receive funding of up to €1.5M each.

Eye and vision care is both an under-innovated and underinvested area of healthcare. 

The 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study ranked vision impairment, including blindness, as the third leading cause of years lived with disability. Globally, at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, from which, according to the World Health Organization, almost 50% could be prevented or cured.

Now in its fourth year, the Wild Card programme is part of EIT Health’s open innovation offering, which provides the opportunity for teams and individuals including innovators, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life to come together and solve pressing health challenges.

Wild Card builds game-changing life science companies to break new ground in health by challenging the status quo in areas of high unmet need.

Beginning with challenges set by EIT Health, the annual Wild Card programme invites talented innovators from across Europe to respond with their ideas. Successful applicants start their journey with a deep dive; putting them through their paces on everything from team formation, critical thinking, business model validation and pitching. Finally, participants pitch their solution to a panel of industry leaders to secure funding to incorporate their company and bring their solution to market. 

We’re proud to announce our support for PeriVision and INVENTION, which marks our commitment to improving innovation in the field of eye and vision care.

As well as three million euros, we’re providing access to our cross-border, cross-discipline, expertise, and network so that we can innovate together.

We hope to rapidly bring new safe and effective technologies to Europeans living with debilitating eye and vision conditions.

said Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO, EIT Health.

PeriVision, a team of six, from Switzerland, will focus on developing a novel artificial intelligence device that will allow for faster diagnosis of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the number one cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, and PeriVision wants to reimagine the way we detect and monitor this condition. We provide private practices and hospitals with a portable and AI-based fast visual field-testing device to optimise workflows and better manage glaucoma.

The Wild Card programme helped us tremendously to understand who benefits most from our solution and how we build a sustainable business.

The mentors made us look at the problem from a patient, clinician, payor, and investor viewpoint. We are now looking forward to finalising our solution and helping patients and clinicians worldwide

said Patrick Kessel CEO & Cofounder of PeriVision.

Co-founders Dr Serife Kucur and Prof. Dr Raphael Sznitman started applying machine learning techniques to ophthalmology & perimetry data as early as 2015. They used the predictive power of AI to substantially accelerate perimetry exams. Further research around the viability of portable devices to broaden access to testing then gave rise to PeriVision.

Patrick Kessel, the third co-founder, previously worked with MedTech and pharma clients at the Boston Consulting Group. He wanted to combine his passion for innovation and medical technology and joined the team to drive the commercialization and fundraising efforts in early 2021.

To strengthen the team with additional clinical expertise, Dr Bobby Tang joined the team during the Wildcard accelerator as a clinical advisor and will continue to work with them in the future.

INVENTION, a team of three from Sweden, will develop a natural therapeutic contact lens for the treatment of eye conditions such as myopia and dry eye. 

Globally, more than 2.6 billion people have poor distance vision (myopia) and 1.1 billion suffer from dry eye according to recent WHO reports.

Despite the technological advances for treating these conditions separately, millions still suffer from both conditions and are underserved as the existing treatment options are suboptimal. We are developing a Natural Contact Lens made from the same material as the human eye that can help manage myopia in dry eye patients.

The EIT Health Wild Card programme helped us better understand the need and examine our assumptions towards developing a solution for addressing a major unmet need in the eye and vision care

said Mehrdad Rafat, Cofounder of INVENTION.

2022 Wild Card challenges announced

Following the announcement of the 2021 selected teams, EIT Health has launched the focus of its Wild Card challenges for 2022: early detection of cancer and mental health, which were selected in consultation with medical, corporate, and financial experts. Urgent action is needed to address the impact of COVID-19 on cancer and mental health, which were both exacerbated by the pandemic.

Modelling in several European countries predicts thousands of excess cancer deaths due to the disruption in diagnosis and care. Currently, 52% of people with cancer do not survive, however, survival rates are generally higher when the disease is diagnosed and treated early. 

The Wild Card 2022 cancer challenge has been set to contribute towards innovation that can help to improve the detection of cancer earlier when it can be more easily and successfully treated.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a considerable impact on the mental health of citizens, with a rise in the reporting of many mental health conditions. One in four people will be affected by mental health or neurological condition in their lifetime, and around 450 million people are already suffering. The scale of the problem places such conditions among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. The Wild Card mental health challenge aims to find solutions that can facilitate access to care as well as improve the overall outcomes of those affected.

For more information, or to apply for the 2022 EIT Health Wild Card programme, please visit wildcard.eithealth.eu.