Eye care innovators receive European funding

Following our Wild Card 2021 program, EIT Health has chosen two innovative teams, PeriVision from Switzerland and INVENTION from Sweden, for further support over the next two years.

It will provide newly formed teams with expert mentoring and coaching, and access to its extensive network across Europe. The teams will also receive funding of up to € 1.5 million each, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology writes in a press release.

Eye care is a little inverted area

Eye and vision care is an area of ​​healthcare that is not innovated or overinvested. The 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study ranked visual 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 visual impairment, of which, according to the World Health Organization, almost 50% could be prevented or cured.

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Now in its fourth year, the Wild Card program is part of our open innovation offering, providing the opportunity for teams and individuals, including innovators, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life, to come together and solve challenges of urgent health. Wild Card creates game-changing life science companies to break new ground in healthcare by challenging the status quo in areas of high unmet need.

Talent network

Starting with the challenges we set ourselves, the annual Wild Card program invites talented innovators from across Europe to respond with their ideas. Selected applicants begin their journey with a deep dive; putting them to the test on everything from team building, critical thinking, business model validation and launch. Finally, participants present their solution to a panel of industry leaders to secure funding to incorporate their business and bring their solution to market.

Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO of EIT Health: “We are proud to announce our support for PeriVision and INVENTION, which marks our commitment to enhance innovation in the field of eye and vision care. In addition to € 3 million, we are providing access to our cross-border, interdisciplinary network, experience and knowledge, so that we can innovate together. We hope to quickly bring new, safe and effective technologies to Europeans living with debilitating eye and vision diseases. “

About the selected teams

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

Patrick Kessel, CEO and Co-Founder of PeriVision: “Glaucoma is the number one cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, and PeriVision wants to reinvent the way we detect and monitor this condition. We provide private practices and hospitals with an AI-based, portable rapid visual field testing device to streamline workflows and better manage glaucoma. The Wild Card program greatly helped us understand who benefits the most from our solution and how we build a sustainable business. The mentors made us see the problem from the point of view of the patient, the doctor, the payer, and the investor. We are now looking forward to finalizing our solution and helping patients and clinicians around the world. “

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.

Mehrdad Rafat, co-founder of INVENTION: “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 technological advances to treat these conditions separately, millions still suffer from both conditions and are neglected as existing treatment options are not optimal. We are developing a natural contact lens made from the same material as the human eye that can help control myopia in dry eye patients. The EIT Health Wild Card program helped us better understand the need and examine our assumptions toward developing a solution to address a significant unmet need in eye and vision care. “

Wild Card 2022 Challenges Announced

Following the announcement of the 2021 selected teams, we have launched the focus of our Wild Card challenges for 2022: Early Cancer Detection and Mental Health. Topics that 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, both exacerbated by the pandemic.

Modeling in several European countries predicts thousands of excess cancer deaths due to interruption 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 Cancer Wild Card 2022 Challenge has been established to contribute to innovation that can help improve cancer detection 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 an increase in the reporting of many mental health conditions. One in four people will be affected by a mental or neurological health condition in their lifetime, and around 450 million people are already suffering from it. The magnitude of the problem places these conditions among the leading causes of poor health and disability worldwide. The Wild Card mental health challenge aims to find solutions that can facilitate access to care and improve overall outcomes for those affected.

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