MOEBIO: accelerating the creation of innovative start-ups and training disruptive entrepreneurs

Moebio is an initiative that encompasses several short and long training programs, all of which have the same goal: to promote entrepreneurialism at the crossroads of technology, biosciences, healthcare and business management. Moebio is already recognized as one of the most successful accelerators in the BioRegion and in Europe.  

Its flagship program Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona) is a course in innovation for healthcare medical technology geared towards young people with talent and entrepreneurial spirit who want to help improve the healthcare arena. The program accompanies multidisciplinary teams through the process of identifying new opportunities and developing innovative technology to address the large-scale challenges the sector is facing on a global scale.

d·HEALTH is based on the Stanford Biodesign Fellowship, which uses a clinical immersion to help fellows detect unmet needs in situ to use as the base for designing new products and services. In this third edition of the program, with collaboration from Hospital Clínic, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Institut Guttmann, the fellows detected 990 unmet needs that have led to three innovative solutions regarding the microbiome, oral hygiene for children with special needs and hydration for patients on hemodialysis.

During the graduation ceremony at the Mobile World Center in October, the projects were presented alongside those from previous years, with former fellows sharing the results they have seen and their experiences with the new fellows. The ceremony also featured a guest of honor: John M. Collins, PhD and COO of the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), who has more than 25 years of international experience marketing innovative technology and has accelerated more than 600 projects through the CIMIT. Based on this experience, he shared seven “lessons” with the audience: focus on important unmet clinical needs and who is paying, listen closely to everyone involved, never give up, be paranoid if needed and explore anything that could kill the business, surround yourself with a good team and cultivate a shared culture, seek advice and build a network of contacts and butter up investors with your "story".

In his own words, “42% of healthtech start-ups fail because they sell products no one wants. Being an entrepreneur is hard but being a health entrepreneur is even harder.” 

As in previous editions, the master program took place over nine months, allowing fellows to experience a full innovation cycle while taking on the knowledge and achieving the goals set in five phases: “Bootcamp”, focused on setting up the multidisciplinary work teams; “Identify”, aimed at identifying unmet medical needs; “Invent”, designing a disruptive solution based on technological innovation to address one of the chosen needs; “Implement”, transforming this idea into a viable business project; and “Graduation Day”, allowing the fellows to present their projects to a panel of experts.

New in 2016: more international mobility and exchange

In 2016, d·HEALTH joined the Clinical Innovation Fellowships program through EIT Health, the most important health consortium in Europe, led by three biodesign and health entrepreneurship programs: d·HEALTH (Biocat), Bioinnovate Ireland at the University of Galway (Ireland) and Clinical Innovation Fellowships at Karolinska Institute (Sweden) based on the Stanford Biodesign methodology. One of the main aims of the program was to promote the fellows’ mobility and exchanges. Eight fellows from the CTMH biodesign program at the Karolinska Institute and from Bioinnovate in Galway attended Graduation Day to share their experiences and questions regarding the innovation process, as well as getting advice on how to tackle the challenges their counterparts in Barcelona had come up against.

Likewise, last year the d·HEALTH fellows also visited the biodesign program in Galway, giving them the opportunity to learn about the region’s ecosystem, exchange experiences and get feedback on the needs detected in the clinical immersion phase. In this case, they dealt with the fields of otorhinolaryngology, dermatology and cardiothoracic health. Additionally, the fellows had access to a study on the target audience and potential market these projects are aimed at. The event also included testimonials from former fellows, who explained their progress with the projects. These included the start-up Embo Medical, which has already launched two products to market. 14 projects in biodesign have come out of Bioinnovate Ireland and are still active, one of which has been acquired by an investment fund.

To finish off the visit, the group had two more meetings. The first was with Brendan Boland, a former fellow from the class of 2014 and CEO of Alt Surgical, a company he founded through Bioinnovate Ireland. The second was with John Linehan, a member of the Bioinnovate Ireland advisory board and a professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University (California), who gave an inspirational speech explaining how to break into the US market and what type of aid is available to start-ups.

Also new last year was a free masterclass on creative leadership at the University of Barcelona’s Faculty of Medicine, exploring models and techniques of learning about creativity in business. The class was taught by Paul Natorp of KaosPilot, a Danish design school that is renowned for its disruptive methodology, and David Storkholm, a professional coach and leadership trainer.

This edition of d·HEALTH Barcelona was made possible by support from Sanofi and Foundation Banc Sabadell and collaboration from Mobile World Capital Barcelona and Danish school KaosPilot.

As in previous editions, Biocat opened up some of the d·HEALTH Barcelona sessions to the public through the MOEBIO Short Programs. These training programs are geared towards students, professionals and entrepreneurs to give them practical knowledge on key aspects of healthcare, innovation, management and entrepreneurial spirit. Each program lasted no more than 20 hours, divided into 3 to 8 sessions of varying lengths. 

The fellows on their visit to Galway with Raquel Riera, Biocat head of Innovation and Talent Development. 

The fellows at Graduation Day.

John Collins, sharing seven lessons learned during the ceremony.

Mowoot, the device to combat chronic constipation.

One of the top news stories of the year was undoubtedly that start-up usMIMA, which was started up under the framework of the d.HEALTH master, was granted €1.14 millions from the European Union’s Horizon2020 program. The company was selected from nearly 1,400 companies in 16 countries and has launched to market a non-invasive medical device, MOWOOT, to combat chronic constipation in patients who have suffered a stroke, spinal injury or have Parkinson. This funding will be used to conduct an international multi-center clinical study, cut manufacturing costs and develop a new device that includes connectivity.