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Case 04.02.2019

Kauko expands to German market with DigitalHealth Hub for startups

Finnish company Kauko has established a DigitalHealth Hub in Germany’s Hamburg & Schleswig-Holstein region that acts as a platform for startups mainly from Finland and the other Nordic countries to connect with German hospitals. The region has close historical connections with Scandinavia and is home to the University Hospital in Hamburg, the second biggest hospital in Germany, as well as two other university hospitals. The hub also offers an excellent entry point to the wider DACH region which has a population of about 100 million, making it the largest healthcare market in Europe.
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Eero Toivainen

Senior Advisor
eero.toivainen (at)

“Germany is far behind Finland when it comes to the digitalization of healthcare so there is a lot of interest in innovative solutions from German hospital chains and individual hospitals. Through the hub, our partner hospitals can also access the knowledge behind these solutions, which can greatly help to drive their own digital transformation processes,” explains Carsten Schmid, Manager of Kauko’s DigitalHealth Hub in Hamburg.

Business Finland’s crucial role

Business Finland has actively brought digital solutions from Finland to the attention of the German health sector in recent years, and also contributed to the process that led to Kauko setting up the DigitalHealth Hub.

“Earlier this year, I discussed growth strategies in the European market with Eero Toivainen, Program Director at Business Finland, and he invited me to join a delegation trip where Finnish companies, including startups, visited several big and small hospitals in Germany. There I saw in a concrete way the need for a third party to bring the small startups and hospitals together,” says Juha Rytkönen, Head of Business Development, Healthcare, Kauko.

Kauko’s strategy is to shorten the time for startups to enter the market and help German hospitals to find suitable innovations for their needs, thereby advancing digitalization and efficiency in the health sector.

“As part of the Aspo Group conglomerate, Kauko can provide the local presence, sales and marketing muscle in Germany that many small startups need. We can also spar the hospitals about the best ways to purchase new digital services – often it is a case of acting as a bridge between the old and new, online way of thinking and doing things,” says Rytkönen. “We also bring Kauko’s long experience in ensuring and improving patient safety to the process of introducing innovative digital solutions.”

Hub welcomes more startups

There are about 4000 hospitals in Germany alone, so the market potential for new digital solutions is vast.

“We are interested in getting more innovative startups to join our portfolio because this will generate even more interest in the German market. The companies can use the hub as an outsourced marketing and sales platform from the beginning,” says Schmid.

After opening in March 2018, the hub has already helped several companies to set up pilot projects with German hospitals. For example, Megical is improving clinical pathway safety by combining intelligent checklists with integrated reporting and real-time analytics on one easy-to-use platform. Sani nudge improves hospital hygiene with a comprehensive wireless monitoring system for preventing infectious disease transmission. GPC’s technology enables the measuring of scale and depth, consistent imaging and 3D-modelling of wounds and ulcers. Thermidas has created the first CE-approved infrared thermal imaging bases solution system, pioneering the diagnostics and treatment of diabetes-related lymph vascular disorders.

“Kauko can help digital health companies to take the first steps into the German market and then adjust our role according to the different stages and needs of the companies,” says Rytkönen.