The Nordic AMPlify program, available to promising Nordic digital health and medtech companies, aims to shorten time to market, kickstart a successful US growth journey and initiate co-development, partnerships, and other business opportunities.
NLS asked Claudia Hidou, Head of Life Science & Healthcare, Business Sweden USA, and Rasmus Malmborg, Senior Innovation Adviser, Nordic Innovation, about the program and their advice to Nordic companies interested in the US market.
The program was first introduced in 2020 as a strategic Nordic-US collaboration empowered by Nordic Innovation, Business Sweden, Business Finland, and Business Iceland in partnership with Greater Winston-Salem Inc., FCA Venture Partners, Flywheel Co-Working, chmg Capital and Winston Starts. In 2021, Innovation Norway and Innovation Centre Denmark joined the partnership.
The Nordic AMPlify 2022-2023 project is co-funded by Nordic Innovation as part of its Life Science and Health Tech program running from 2021-2024.
“Nordic Innovation has chosen to engage in the AMPlify project because a collaborative effort by the TPOs yields several benefits for Nordic companies; the Nordic countries are small and hence individually typically have quite a small market footprint in big markets,” states Rasmus Malmborg, Senior Innovation Adviser at Nordic Innovation.
This belief is strengthened when we see the positive results Nordic AMPlify has yielded. This is also why we have chosen to fund the project for several years now.”
“Furthermore, the Nordic countries are often perceived as one by companies and governments in big countries anyway, which means that it makes good sense to combine marketing and promotion efforts from the Nordic countries. This belief is strengthened when we see the positive results Nordic AMPlify has yielded. This is also why we have chosen to fund the project for several years now.”
Through the 2022-2023 program the 18 participants are offered hands-on support from US healthcare systems, funding opportunities by direct access to a large network of prominent US venture capital and investment firms, US network development, defined learning modules optimized to increase the chances of success, and partnering and collaboration with other Nordic companies also entering the US market.
Finnish company PulseOn were preparing for an entry to the US market and the Nordic AMPlify 2021 program came at the right time, and had a very interesting agenda, according to Jari Kaija, CEO. Through the program Jari says that he and his colleagues gained access to good contacts, a lot of market insights from consultants and from local reps during the US visit. “The program also challenged our value proposition, pitching and some of the strategic choices planned,” he adds.
In other words, the market is huge.”
PulseOn’s stroke-preventing technology combines digital-, wearable- and remote technologies.
“Our solution for diagnosing arrhythmias, even asymptomatic ones, is revolutionary and enables long-term continuous cardiac monitoring regardless of the location of the patient or the physician, without interrupting the patients daily life,” says Kaija. “It is designed to verify possible arrhythmias observed by the patient, such as shortness of breath or palpitations, to follow-up the effectiveness of treatment given to arrhythmia symptoms, to follow-up post stroke patients’ recovery or to find the reasons for cryptogenic strokes and for screening of arrhythmias, e.g., in population ratio. In other words, the market is huge.”
The company is now working on a Middle East and Asia market entry. Jari Kaija’s best advice to other Nordic companies looking to expand to the US market is to understand what it takes. “How much you are willing to invest towards it, and how much you are able to allocate time and resources for the FDA and reimbursement processes and to find the right local partners,” he says.
Swedish AlgoDx also participated in the 2021 AMPlify program and David Becedas, Founder and CEO, says that for them, the timing was perfect, since the company was was exploring in which markets they would begin the commercialization of NAVOY, their ML-based predictive analytics for sepsis prediction in intensive care. The company’s goal is to be a leading global value-based care management company using AI-predictive analytics, starting in the high acuity setting and expanding across the hospital system.
We were in a way forced to think about our product’s value proposition with a new set of eyes.”
Becedas says that the program was well-structured, with a good mix of interactive workshops, lectures and 1:1 mentoring. “We were in a way forced to think about our product’s value proposition with a new set of eyes, given the differences between socialized healthcare that we have in the EU and private healthcare in the US,” he says.
His advice to other companies in a similar position is, “Dip your toes!”
“You will also need to reassess your value proposition and put it in the context of a completely different landscape, where payers and providers have other needs and financial incentives that we don’t see in Europe,” he adds.
AlgoDx has launched the first EU-approved and FDA submitted, clinically validated AI-based SaaS predictive analytics product addressing sepsis in intensive care. Next in their journey is scaling in the EU and UK, thanks to a strategic partnership established with a global healthcare IT provider. “Also to continue our journey in the US of course!” concludes Becedas.
Claudia Hidou, project manager at AMPlify and Head of Life Sciences and Healthcare at Business Sweden USA, works on a daily basis helping companies entering the US market. She and her colleagues have noted that the investors are looking for superior tech, strong IP, and a CEO/Founder who is willing to put in the work and relocate to the US to take the company to the next stage.
“The more US-based validation a company can show, the stronger the investment case will be. This can be anything from US-based clinical trials, research collaborations with US institutions, or even paying customers – showcasing the desire for the product(s)/solution(s),” she states.
The US is similar to Europe since the majority of the country has cultural differences from state to state that need to be taken into consideration when entering the US, Hidou explains. However, as private health insurance is the predominant source of health insurance coverage in the US, the incentives for implementing new technologies tend to be different from Europe.
“There is an emphasis on strong business cases that either reduce costs or increase revenue. Being “better” than the standard of care is not always enough and Business Sweden often help companies better understand what their true value proposition for the US should be,” she says.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and have a thorough understanding of the market and your product market fit.”
Her advice to a CEO currently developing their sales-organization for the US market is that since the US market is complex, don’t be afraid to ask for help and have a thorough understanding of the market and your product market fit.
“Despite the US being the largest healthcare market, and thus one of the most attractive, it is still a complex market that requires patience and an abundance of resources in order to succeed. We are however very happy to see an increasing number of Nordic healthcare and life science companies looking to enter the US and sharing the value of their solutions beyond the Nordics,” she says.
Featured photo of Rasmus Malmborg (Nordic Innovation) and Claudia Hidou (Business Sweden)
This article was originally published in NLS magazine No 03 2023, out September 2023