Catalyst is an innovation hub that connects medtech and health tech startups with clinician-innovators. The objective is to turn new ideas into products and services that prevent or cure diseases and save lives. Organized by Catalyst, the Medical Alumni Association Singapore, the National University of Singapore, and Jumpstart, the Catalyst x AA Innovation Program Demo Day featured six companies that presented their ideas.
Leading up to the Demo Day, Catalyst matched clinicians with technologists with complementary skills and backgrounds. Twenty teams were shortlisted to compete in the hackathon-style Selection Day. Six teams made it through for incubation.
These six teams pitched their solutions to the expert panel selected from various health tech organizations, including investors, during the Demo Day. Afterwards, these teams stand a chance to apply for the Jumpstart Acceleration Program.
Here is an introduction to the six startups that took part in the Catalyst x AA Innovation Program Demo Day.
Generating value from unstructured clinical data
Mapping Health was founded in March 2021. The firm helps clinicians unlock the value in their clinical documentation by creating frameworks from unorganized data and medical notes. Co-founder Enming Yong told KrASIA that all three founders of the firm are clinical practitioners, they recognized that there was a problem in the way clinical data was unorganized. Useful information was difficult to extract due to the absence of organizational structure.
Their solution is EMR-agnostic and caters to any clinical practice. An electronic medical record, or EMR, includes information about a patient’s health history, such as diagnoses, medicines, tests, allergies, immunizations, and treatment plans.
Mapping Health has created an end-to-end solution, which includes a hybrid natural language processing (NLP) engine that enables clinical users to extract relevant information from unstructured clinical data. Mapping Health’s hybrid NLP engine has been validated to identify adverse events from discharge summaries. The startup is now seeking other use cases.
Making DNA light up
Exosomes are small vesicles that facilitate a range of important cellular functions. They transfer DNA, RNA, and proteins to other cells, thereby altering the function of the target cells. The pandemic has motivated deeper exosome study. More and more researchers are examining the potential applications of exosomes. However, the processes for detecting and isolating these tiny vesicles are tedious. Flow cytometry is an advanced technique for detecting and sorting nanoparticles, but it lacks quality dyes that can maximize the full potential of flow cytometry as a detection tool for exosomes, according to industry experts.
LumeDNA addresses this problem by introducing innovative dyes for flow cytometry to enable faster, brighter, and accurate research involving exosomes and more. Founded in April 2021, co-founder Inês Jacinto told KrASIA that LumeDNA chose Singapore as a place to do its research as the city-state is a hub for medical technology and NUS is a world-leading research institution that enabled the creation of LumeDNA. Singapore’s geographical positioning also offers direct pathways to do business across the Asia-Pacific region.
Making reliable health information accessible to all
Since early 2020, there has been an influx of medical misinformation in what the World Health Organization calls an “infodemic.” This can cause confusion, anxiety, and dangerous outcomes.
But what if dependable medical practitioners are just a call away? AskDr is a health forum that gives users access to licensed medical professionals who are ready to answer patients’ queries. Users can also glean crowdsourced opinions from the medical community. The website taps volunteer doctors to provide the public with information about COVID-19 and other health issues.
AskDr launched in February 2020. Founder and CEO Brian Toh told KrASIA that his platform focuses on ensuring the information transmitted by AskDr is clear and reliable. Doctors upvote and recommend responses posted by their peers, and a recommendation algorithm pushes the top answers to the top of the page.
Connecting experts with lifelong learners
People are living longer—but not necessarily better. Obio was founded this year after founder Eugene He started hopping on livestreams to create content about health and wellness, but realized current livestreaming platforms did not provide an interactive space for health experts and their followers. He told KrASIA that he sees Obio as a hybrid of YouTube, Udemy, and Clubhouse.
Users can join interest groups for discussions and exchange ideas, view livestreams and interact with their favorite experts, and save their favorite content in their personal libraries. Obio enables clinical and wellness experts to create high-quality, curated videos for viewers who are invested in their health and wellbeing.
Democratizing diagnostics tools with rapid, sensitive DNA detection technologies
Scientists are driven to translate their efforts in the lab to meet real world needs. VanGuard Dx has developed several innovative DNA detection technologies that are useful in the global battle against COVID-19.
Lab tests are essential to diagnose or screen for infectious diseases. However, setting up medical labs requires hefty investments as well as well-trained personnel, both of which are scarce in developing countries. The uneven distribution of lab testing became obvious when the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 spiraled out of control. Some parts of the world still lack screening facilities, so PCR tests have a long turnaround time. In this situation, inaccurate test kits provide a false sense of security.
Founder Kean Hean told KrASIA that VanGuard Dx’s objective is to democratize DNA testing without sacrificing accuracy, so that critical decisions can be made in time and with confidence. VanGuard Dx’s technology enables DNA detection assays to run on affordable equipment, and minimal training is required. This means accurate tests can be run in public settings like cinemas, conferences, schools, and immigration entry points.
Setting the standard for mobility aids for the elderly
The idea of a QaneMate was first conceived when the two young inventors, Ian Hao and his sister Ing Le, were eating at a hawker center in 2013. They noticed an old woman drinking coffee with a cane leaning on the side of her table. The cane slipped off the smooth tabletop. When the old woman attempted to retrieve her fallen cane, she lost her balance and fell, bumping her head. This encounter inspired the siblings to create a product that prevents the situation they saw.
Founded in 2017, QaneMate’s team was driven by an unmet need among elderly walking stick users. The product is an attachment for mobility aids with patented NFC functionality.
Qanemate is working with healthcare institutions, nonprofit elderly welfare organizations, and medical professionals to finalize the prototype of a smart QaneMate with tracking capabilities to locate elders who wander due to dementia, offering safety and peace of mind to their caregivers.
KrASIA is a media partner of the Catalyst x AA Innovation Program.