The 2014 WEBSUMMIT: In poor health

Considering the massive global growth, power and value of digital health – its presence at this year’s Websummit was hugely lacking. The Summit, although young, is now considered to be 'THE' place that the tech world meets. The three-day event sees the convergence of leading digital companies collide with hundreds of startups and investors. In total 22,000 people attended this year.

The schedule was packed with talks on all the ‘hot’ tech topics such as big data, drones, 3D printing, music and e-commerce. In comparison there were only two health related talks and only one featured on the center stage: “Decoding Disease: Technology and the Cure for Cancer.” The other, “Health is the New Wealth”, was a panel discussion comprising of three young Medtech startups. In comparison to the talks, the digital health presence was far greater amongst the startups exhibiting. Geneix was proud to be one of them and as the only one focusing on genetics/personalised medicine we gathered quite a crowd.

The majority of digital health startups focused more on applying general concepts, such as telecommunications, sensors, social media and online reviews etc. to the healthcare space. With only a very small handful focusing on pure medical innovation or massive healthcare disruption.

The poor representation in the schedule, combined with the selection of startups exhibiting, hugely undermined the current state and future potential of digital health. There wasn't even a 'health' section for exhibiting startups, they were instead squeezed into lifestyle. Hardly fair for innovations that can save lives, improve treatment and cure diseases to be neighboured by 'find a local tennis buddy apps'. 

There were however a few golden highlights such as when speakers, talking on unrelated topics or asked directly where they saw the future of digital going, championed personalized medicine. It seemed that of all the digital health trends tailored treatment and genetics stood-out as the hot space to watch. Hopefully next year Websummit will catch-up and, like it's counter part SXSW, take the opportunity to explore the immense value and importance of digital health.

Our favourite Digital Health startups from Websummit:

- Babylon Health, a virtual health service in your pocket

- EpiBone, a revolutionary bone reconstruction company that allows patients to “grow their own bone”

- Immudicon, uses the immune system and revolutionary technology to fight cancer

- BluSense Diagnostics, a low-cost, user-friendly and cloud-connected device for Diabetes Type II monitoring