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Q&A: Kaiku Health – from startup to acquisition

Two years ago Finnish health tech company Kaiku Health was acquired by Elekta, the global leader in radiotherapy technology. NLS asked Lauri Sippola, co-founder and CEO of Kaiku Health, about the company’s journey and his best advice to other entrepreneurs.

Kaiku Health, based in Helsinki, is a great example of Finnish strengths in nurturing and growing health tech companies and developing health technology. Finland has a long history of technological expertise, strong global health tech companies, top-class research in several medical fields and a thriving startup scene.

Kaiku Health, founded in 2012, is based on research and product development at Aalto University. The founders, the five software developers Lauri Sippola, Joel Lehikoinen, Otto Seiskari, Henri Virtanen and Kaarlo Haikonen, were passionate about healthcare and wanted to use digital technologies to make care journeys more personalized for patients. With input from the first customer cancer clinics they developed a digital platform for intelligent patient monitoring. The company rapidly grew into a steadily funded company employing tens of people and providing a platform for several European cancer clinics. Later on, Kaiku also partnered with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and co-created digital patient monitoring modules for targeted cancer therapies. In May 2020, the company was acquired by Swedish medtech giant Elekta.

Could you describe the initial idea behind Kaiku Health?

“The initial idea was to improve the quality of life of people living with cancer. To do that, we have developed a digital therapeutics platform used by both patients and care teams. The platform enables patients to report their symptoms in real-time and keep connected to their care teams regardless of time and place. It provides them with guidance on symptom self-management as well as relevant information related to their disease and treatment.”

“All this combined adds communications and information flow between patients and their care teams between appointments, leaving more time to focus on what matters during appointments.”

“For care teams the platform provides improved symptom management through intelligent algorithms that triage symptoms and send notifications to care teams. This helps them to keep updated on symptom development in each patient and to make timely interventions. All this combined adds communications and information flow between patients and their care teams between appointments, leaving more time to focus on what matters during appointments.” 

Describe the partnership process with Elekta?

“Partnering with Elekta was a natural and welcomed step to increase our reach globally. In 2020 we were looking for partners on a funding round and had many good options on the table. After careful and mutual review, Elekta was the perfect fit. Our mission is the same: to improve the lives of people living with cancer.”

Describe the company structure before and after the acquisition?

“After partnering with Elekta we have nearly doubled in size and reached new markets, including North and South America, Australia and several European countries. We have gained a great global network of colleagues and our operations are now truly global.”

“Theres a lot more remote connecting and a wider network to lean on.”

“The biggest change to our daily jobs is the amount of opportunities and reach. We now work globally, which has of course brought new ways of working. Theres a lot more remote connecting and a wider network to lean on. However, our daily life at the office has not changed that much.”

Do you have any advice to other startups that see a partnership with a larger company as an attractive goal?

“Look for a partner that shares your ambitions and mission. Really get to know your partner, not just their business but their culture as well. That will make transition smoother for everyone.”

What news can we expect form Kaiku/Elekta in the upcoming years?

“Big things! We are looking forward to entering new markets and bringing value to customers. We will also keep growing our life sciences ecosystem providing access to digital patient monitoring and management within novel and targeted therapies. Since 2020 we have announced several new projects and partnerships with some of the biggest life sciences companies. We are excited to be able to grow our network and multi-partner ecosystem that opens new opportunities in the field of real-world evidence and personalized targeted treatments.”  

Photo of Lauri Sippola: Antti Ahtiluoto