Each passing year establishes technology’s unattested position as the nucleus of modern society; crucial both in our work and social lives, necessary in the most meaningful and trivial aspects of our day. Web Summit facilitates a meeting of the minds for those with big ideas, or for those who are brave enough or interested enough to want to try to keep their fingers on the (technological) pulse.
The event, which was originally based in Dublin, is a technology conference that took place in Lisbon last week (6th-9th November).
Although there are many opportunities to attend talks, interviews, debates, and to listen to the thoughts of others, start-up stands also litter the event, offering attendees the chance to find out about- and even potentially invest in- products and ideas that could shape the future landscape of software, travel, fashion, content media, and even health technology.
As the summit’s website puts it: “While some of tech’s most influential will be onstage, the founders and CEOs of the startups looking to displace them will be on the floor”. Over 2,000 of the world’s most promising ALPHA, BETA and START tracks startups were present at the Altice Arena last week.
Just a short spell in tech heaven made it crystal clear that ‘Doctor Google’ may have some competition in the not so distant future. Among the Medtech exhibitors was ‘Healcloud’, which was selected as one of the global top 100 startups at the Web Summit.
This company claims to be working to transform the quality of care and healthcare data informatics across Europe, its patent pending solutions apparently possessing the ability to “empower patients, liberate medical practitioners, and leverage big data to deliver actionable insights that help drive better health outcomes, supporting clinical trials and life sciences research”.
German researchers behind the start-up ‘AI Smart’ were there to spread the message that artificial intelligence (AI) will potentially revolutionise how healthcare is delivered. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), in addition to 29 Fraunhofer institutes, are said to be paving the way when it comes to technologies that PwC Germany claim may decrease healthcare-related costs by a staggering €170 billion in Europe this coming decade.
Across the pond, an American company dipping its toe into artifical intelligence is ‘GYANT’, a health robot that functions simply by asking questions so that it will not only learn about its ‘patient’, but also about how symptoms and conditions are connected.
The San-Francisco based start-up claims to be already helping thousands in developing countries every day to find out why they may be sick. This free app is relatively unique in that, while most developers launched their digital health apps on secure portals in an effort to control the flow of patient details, GYANT launched for free on Facebook’s Messenger, and could become the first stop shop for those without health insurance.
It has been screening many patients for the Zika virus, based on symptoms rather than on perform tests, or image analysis. It does not offer a conclusive diagnosis but gives a percentage estimating the amount to which a patient’s symptoms match those of a Zika virus patient.
Meanwhile, health and medical companies that were somewhat further down the line in terms of investment and development, such as ‘Sharecare’ outlined their future goals onstage, assuring their audiences that they were the ones to watch. As a digital health company with a current CEO, who was the former CEO and founder of WebMD, Jeff Arnold, ‘Sharecare’ has progressed rapidly, officially ranked 242 among the private and public technology companies on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500.
Aiming to “help people to manage all their health in one place”, its revenue has grown by 398 percent between 2013 and 2016. The platform provides creates a personalised health programme for each person. Its experts are compiled of physicians and health professionals from all over the United States (with the intention of cracking the global market by 2019), so users can find the health advice and resources that are right for them and nearby through articles, videos, programmes, and assessments.
Not only has the summit itself grown annually since its inception in Dublin in 2009, but so too has its purpose. Talks surrounding the future of technology were merely one aspect of this multi-faceted event, as hands were shaken behind allocated meeting points and ambitious thinkers met with mentors to discuss strategy.
Business cards were ditched in favour of scanning each other’s allotted attendee codes as a method of exchanging contact details; tech giants and first-time entrepreneurs; ambitious minds mingling like the smells of burgers and waffles in the air (though hopefully more pleasantly so).
The overall atmosphere at the Web Summit was resoundingly positive; the general attitude being that solutions to even our most challenging hurdles were just an idea away. Tell that to our Health Department.