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Healthcare making an impact at one of the world’s largest startup events

The co-founder of Top Data Science explains what’s new from his startup and how they’re working to meet investors and exchange ideas.

Kai Kuusisto

Image credit: Slush 2016. Photographer: Kai Kuusisto

Bold promotional banners outside an event venue in the capital of Finland declare that “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November”. Except the badass startups heading to the two-day international startup and investor event  #SLUSH. Helsinki might be lacking the 200+ sunny days of Silicon Valley, but inclement weather is no deterrent to Slush devotees.

Since the event was founded in 2008, its growth has almost been exponential. At the time, a group of students at Aalto University in Helsinki were frustrated, because startups in the Finnish capital were having a hard time connecting with each other. They decided to do something about it and organized a conference, where startup companies could pitch their ideas to investors.

And they have certainly succeeded – Slush is now one of the world’s largest startup events, this year the sold-out event attracted more than 17,500 visitors, 2,300 startups, 1,100 venture capitalists and 600 journalists from over 120 countries. There was even a direct flight from San Francisco for the 300 American investors who attended.

Slush16_c_Petri _Anttila

Image credit: Slush 2016. Photographer: Petri Anttila

Participating companies included startups from GE’s Health Innovation Village, launched three years ago at GE Healthcare’s Finnish headquarters. Currently over 30 companies have their operations there, working with low power wireless sensors, software applications, cloud services, industrial internet and big data.

One such company, Top Data Science, focuses on advanced healthcare data analytics, image analysis and software engineering. “Our goal for Slush was to meet three to five investors and start a dialogue. It is vital to meet and exchange ideas with people who understand our competence and what we are wanting to achieve, and perhaps share that journey together”, says Timo Heikkinen, Co-founder, Top Data Science.

Petri Anttila 2

Image credit: Slush 2016. Photographer: Petri Anttila

“Being a resident in the dynamic community at the Health Innovation Village has several benefits for young companies. With the help of GE, we have been able to discuss business opportunities and pitch our ideas to international delegates that are visiting the site regularly. Those matchmaking opportunities are valuable”, says Heikkinen.

Heikkinen and his two partners are currently working on two projects that applies software capabilities on existing healthcare technologies. “We are developing a pilot project to GE’s cloud-based industrial internet platform, Predix that utilizes data analytics to analyze and predict clinical alarms coming from patient monitoring systems. This is based on existing historical data that we have been collecting, organizing and coding”, explains Heikkinen.

Eventually, the fully-developed solution will use state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to ‘explain’ why a monitoring system is sending an alarm, helping technicians and engineers to easily solve incidents and device support requests. Predictive analytics can help clinicians to better and proactively understand and comprehend patient conditions and situation, as well as predicting possible near-future events. In December, the team is participating Predix Dojo at GE’s Digital headquarters in San Ramon, California. Dojo is a five-day camp where they develop the solution further with Predix-experts.

TDS team coding Predix with GE Lakshmi Shekaripuram

Top Data Science at GE’s Digital headquarters in San Ramon, California:(from left) Hieu Nguyen, Hung Ta, Oguzhan Gencoglu, Timo Heikkinen, and Lakshmi Shekaripuram, Director, Software Engineering, Predix Cloud Product Management, GE.

The company is also working on a prostate cancer research project with Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUS) – The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa region, utilizing their image analysis competence. They will create a software system that can analyze and classify lesions detected in MRI images and give validated feedback for radiologists and treating physicians. The project combines biomarker studies and multiparametric MRI imaging with Top Data Science’s deep learning computer vision technologies.

“I believe that we could extend this to other cancer types and disease diagnosis too – the only requirement is that we are able to utilize the data that the existing technologies, such as MRI systems and monitoring systems are already collecting, just making them more intelligent”, says Heikkinen.

And how did it go at Slush for the Top Data Science team – and when it comes to the international guests, is it worth of challenging the weather god in Helsinki?  “Slush was a great experience for us with many good meetings and new connections. There were many large companies as exhibitors that are open for collaboration with startups. I believe that this trend is becoming more and more prevalent which is very good – startups and big companies can benefit and learn a great deal from one another”, concludes Heikkinen.