The aim of the Future Internet CHallenge eHealth (FICHe) accelerator has been to challenge European startups to develop innovative applications in the eHealth market building upon the FIWARE technology. In the recently ended two-year program, through three phases and altogether 6.24 MEUR funding, the 20 finalist startups, out of the initial 300+ applicants, developed their ideas into successful new eHealth solutions.
According to FICHe Project Coordinator Satu Väinämö, University of Oulu, Finland, FICHe has been a boost as it has accelerated the overall process, planning and fostering the visibility of the product and companies. The added value of FIWARE technology comes from providing a large set of components and an active community which supports and maintains it. The combination of funding, coaching and testing solutions with real end users accelerated the development of the SMEs’ solutions. As Jordina Arcal, from FICHe finalist HealthApp, Spain, puts it: “it was a real incubation process…everyone helping each other.”
By being part of the FICHe program SMEs and startups gained significant growth. With the support of FICHe, the 20 finalists created 150 new jobs, got new customers and partnerships as well as raised extra public and private funding. FICHe program itself has been essential seed funding allowing the startups to set off the ground.
ICHe provided companies with the overall funding of EUR 6.24 million for developing eHealth applications. Funding was distributed through a three-step trial. In the first stage, companies received 15 000 euro for business model development. In the next phase, 40 companies received 50 000 euro for proof-of-concept. The third phase entering 20 companies received additionally 152 000 euro for working prototype development. At best, companies were therefore offered up to 217 000 euros funding.
FICHe is co-funded under the European Union’s Programme for research, technological development and demonstration. Project partners were University of Oulu, Business Oulu, TIC BioMed, FFIS de la region de Murcia, TNO, Amsterdam Economic Board, Stichting zorgInc., Dutch eHealth Fund Management BV and Stichting Digitalezorg.nl.