Singapore's TeleMedC startup to move into Hamburg's the-labs-space

5 May 2021
Innovative founders offer AI-based solutions for eye diseases

TeleMedC, an emerging Singapore-based startup offering diagnostics for on-site screening and virtual management of eye and chronic diseases, has formed an R&D partnership with the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). This follows the involvement of Scaler8 market expansion experts who specialize in successfully positioning Asian startups and SMEs in the German market through customized market exploration and access programmes, among others.

Location in the-labs-space

TeleMedC is now preparing to move into Hamburg's the-labs-space in early May. Several hurdles had to be overcome, all kinds of talks held and a lot of convincing done before the start-up could actually settle in Hamburg. Cities all over the globe compete with each other for the most promising startups and companies including TeleMedC. The competition is fierce and similar to the "battle for talent" in relation to skilled workers. Hamburg scored well thanks to its geographical location, innovative environment and strong economic clusters. 

Helpful contacts

"Contacts were made with Scaler8 and the idea of steering like-minded start-ups from Singapore to Hamburg came through Sirko Pelzl of apoQlar, who had taken part in the German accelerator in Southeast Asia in early 2020," said Marc-Angelo Bisotti, initiator of and founder of Policy Insider AI. "As a mentor in the Scaler8 programme, I then facilitated contacts between TelemedC and  UKE," he added. Then Hamburg's economic development agencies came on the scene. Nina Alswede, Key Account Manager, and Lee Lee Ong, Project Manager of International Investment, both at Hamburg Invest, came on board and helped make contacts and access authorities. Bisotti remarked: "The presence of strong industry representatives in Hamburg such as the UKE, Philips HIP or Fielmann AG, were not without effect either. The trusting cooperation, but above all the clearly recognisable 'hands-on' mentality of all those involved ultimately tipped the scales in favour of Hamburg." Funding from the Hamburg Investment and Development Bank (IFB) eventually sealed the move.

UKE hints at potential of project

"This ground-breaking project can potentially cover a wider area, combining the detection and grading of cataracts - the world's leading cause of blindness - and the automatic diagnosis of glaucoma and other common retinal diseases. It will cover most diseases that lead to blindness and might even help the non-invasive detection of other non-eye diseases. We support this exciting collaborative research and development project with TeleMedC wholeheartedly," said Dr Martin Spitzer, Professor of Ophthalmology, Head of Department at UKE.

Image diagnosis with artificial intelligence

TeleMedC works with primary care providers, community clinics and pharmacies to provide cost-effective, fully automated and transportable eye image assessment technologies. These can be used to monitor the diagnosis and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, stroke, hypertension and macular degeneration. The company's artificial intelligence (AI) for diabetic retinopathy detection was the first to be approved in Singapore and Australia, according to the company, and can boast 97 per cent sensitivity and 92 per cent specificity accuracy - making it one of the world's most accurate image diagnostic AI services. "We have worked closely with TeleMedC over the past year and are pleased to have been able to provide them with a strong local partner from our German network," said Teodora Georgieva, Scaler8 Programme Director, German Entrepreneurship Asia.

Innovation hub for healthtech

TeleMedC took part in the 2020 Scaler8 Explore programme - an eleven-week market exploration programme that helps companies launch on the German market. Powered by the German Entrepreneurship Asia, Scaler8 Explore helps emerging Singaporean startups expand to Germany. The German Entrepreneurship Asia bridges the innovation ecosystems in Asia and Europe. "We are delighted to further our mission to solve this global problem with our cost-effective retinal diagnostic technology and UKE's expertise in ophthalmology. The Scaler8 team has been instrumental in making this possible," said Para Segaram, Founder and CEO of TeleMedC.

"Our excellent health and technology universities and research centres mean Hamburg is well on course to becoming an innovative hub of health technology. Our goal is to support growing companies as they integrate into Hamburg's business landscape. We were happy to support TeleMedC when it arrived in Germany. We have high hopes for the outcome of their partnership with UKE and look forward to following their progress," said Lee Lee Ong, Project Manager of International Investment at Hamburg Invest.

Sources and further information

TeleMedC GmbH

TeleMedC GmbH has developed a range of AI-based diagnostic hardware and software solutions for a broad spectrum of eye diseases since 2014. Its proprietary platform, TeleEye MD, allows eye care providers to harness the power of TeleMedC's AI technology and to examine eyes more efficiently and accurately. The company has branches in Singapore, Australia and Germany, putting TeleMedC at the forefront of deep tech and medical innovation.

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