Stepping onto the world stage with health data

Software for healthcare and the management and analysis of genomic and clinical data are undergoing a revolution that will have an impact on people’s everyday lives. BCB Medical and BC Platforms, both IT companies, are taking Finland onto the world stage as pioneers in bioinformatics and health technology solutions.

Individualised healthcare is an international megatrend that will have a profound effect on people’s wellbeing. In the future, it will be possible to plan the prevention and treatment of diseases for a specific individual based on genomic data.

The pharmaceutical industry will also be able to speed up the product development process. Likewise, physicians will be able to more easily draw on the latest research and health data to determine best treatments.

These visions will be realised by two Finnish growth companies in the IT sector – BCB Medical and BC Platforms – who develop software and analytics supporting healthcare. Tesi made first-round investments in both companies in 2017.

GREAT POTENTIAL IN HEALTH TECHNOLOGY. International venture capital investors are currently showing very strong interest in the health technology sector. Although in Finland many companies in this sector are still struggling through the early stages of their development, they have huge growth potential over the next few years.

Finland is rapidly becoming a European centre for health technology.

Tesi’s Investment Manager Joni Karsikas foresees Finland rapidly becoming a European centre for health technology. Last year health technology companies raised many of Finland’s largest financing rounds. BC Platforms, for instance, led by Swiss Debiopharm Innovation Fund and Tesi, raised € 9 million.

“It’s difficult to achieve rapid growth in just the domestic market and with the support of only local investors, so we’re offering companies diversified financing solutions for strengthening their international expansion,” explains Karsikas.

BC Platforms’ CEO Tero Silvola describes how health technology is a fairly challenging and rapidly evolving field.

DETERMINATION AND PATIENCE PAY DIVIDENDS. BC Platforms, already operating internationally, is conquering global markets. The company’s mission is to be a global leader in providing biobanks, the pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare sector with a platform for managing genomic and clinical data. BC Platforms’ CEO Tero Silvola calls for the determination and patience needed from companies competing in the IT and healthcare sector.

BC Platforms raised€9m in venture capital last year.

“Health technology is quite a challenging field. Decision-making can be slow, value chains complex and the sector itself rather conservative. Success often requires a development-oriented customer relationship, either in the domestic market or from farther afield, with a player operating in the same partnership network,” Silvola points out.

BC Platforms modified its strategy in 2014 when the company started seeking smart capital from outside Finland. The investment round took a long time, because BC Platforms was seeking an overall investor entity suited specifically to its needs. At this point Tesi stepped in to support the company.

“It’s gratifying to be involved in promoting new innovations in bioinformatics and to strengthen Finland’s prominent position as a pioneer in utilising health data. BC Platforms has unique expertise that combines a strong understanding of genomics with outstanding software design,” acclaims Karsikas.

“Our goal is that by 2020 more than 30 percent of our company’s net sales will come from the international market, says BCB Medical’s Managing Director Petteri Viljanen.

DOMESTIC MARKET A GOOD SPRINGBOARD. Sometimes, also, focusing on just one market area can produce strong growth. BCB Medical, focusing on data collection and analysis, has posted annual growth of average 35 per cent for the last five years.

The company’s operating model and technical product development model are based on cloud services and on sales models that are scalable also to new markets. Backing BCB Medical, in addition to Tesi, are the Swedish investment companies Standout Capital and Backstage Invest.

“Up until 2017 we focused essentially on just the domestic market and in developing our products in Finland. Our aim during 2018 is to conclude the first cooperation agreements, particularly in the Nordic countries, and we’ve already received enquiries from a number of sources,” reports BCB Medical’s Managing Director Petteri Viljanen.

FINLAND A WORLD LEADER IN UTILISING HEALTH DATA? Financing offered by the investor group will be targeted at strengthening development, sales and customer service resources for BCB Medical’s software business, particularly in Europe. In Finland, the goal is to double the number of people working in the R&D centre and in customer service by 2020.

Heli Ahlroos, Tesi’s Director, Venture Capital, was convinced by BCB Medical’s development work, strong position in the domestic market and clear growth targets.

“Tesi wants to contribute to strengthening Finland’s key position as a world leader in utilising medical information. BCB Medical has been developing its know-how and products in Finland for a long time. We are now ready, with BCB Medical and Standout Capital, to take the next step towards the global healthcare ICT market,” says Alhroos.

BC PLATFORMS
  • Established in 1997, the company produces genomic data management solutions that address some of the biggest healthcare challenges today.
  • R&D units in Helsinki and sales & marketing units in Basle, London, Boston and Vancouver.
BCB MEDICAL
  • Established in 2003, the company is the Nordic market leader in gathering and analysing clinical data.
  • The company’s head office is in Turku, Finland, and it has offices also in Espoo, Oulu and Tampere.