Europe’s health tech sector is booming and shows no sign of slowing down. In the last quarter of 2020, Europe’s health tech startups brought in $2.3bn in investment. As the pandemic rumbles on, exciting opportunities in the sector still abound, as investors and governments race to fund new solutions that can enhance care provision and bolster healthcare systems that have been pushed to their limits.
It’s a sector ripe for talent and innovation, where the startups that flourish can have a lasting impact on public health. So what skills do you need to succeed in the prosperous land of European health tech?
A competitive spirit
The health tech sector might be booming, but this also means it’s a busy place: 63% of funded digital health companies in Europe were founded in the past five years. That’s staggering growth for a sector that’s still in its infancy – and in the wake of a global pandemic, there are more products than ever in the mix.
Against this backdrop of steady funding, healthy competition and rich opportunity, to work in health tech you have to be ready to hustle and stay one step ahead of competitors. There’s rarely an opportunity for more than one startup offering a similar solution to flourish in the same market – particularly in centralised health systems such as England’s NHS. So working hard, educating yourself on your competition and innovating in order to stay in the game is essential if you’re to thrive in health tech.
As soon as you let that competitive edge slip, another startup could swoop in to take that startup-defining deal or contract.
Healthcare, by necessity, is a complex and regulation-ridden beast. Getting approval for a new product or concept is a notoriously lengthy process, fraught with red tape, rules, and paperwork. If your solution is to get the green light from the likes of the NHS, every element of your offering needs to be compliant with the latest regulations and technically watertight to ensure it’s a help (rather than a hindrance) to users.
Getting to that point requires patience and acute attention to detail. In health tech, after jumping through one set of hoops, you’ll likely come across another (even bigger) set. But no stone can be left unturned when you’re dealing with things as important as patients’ health and data. This means patience is vital if you’re going to approach these important processes with diligence and a clear head. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither was Europe’s next big thing in health tech.
Strong communication skills
In a sector that’s in the business of saving lives, being able to communicate clearly and sensitively about your product is crucial. You need to be able to understand the problems faced by clinicians and patients, and speak to users in a way that will resonate, even if you don’t have a background in health.
Building trust with new and potential customers is a key part of any role in health tech. Most European healthcare systems have been operating in a certain way for years, so sometimes the people you’re keen to work with will be resistant to digital transformation and change. This is understandable: some new solutions, if adopted too early, can do more harm than good. But building a case as to why yours is different – and being able to communicate this to clients, colleagues and sector leaders – is an important skill that will stand you in good stead in the industry.
A passion for helping others
Improving healthcare systems in one way or another is the raison d’etre for any health tech. Unlike other commercially-motivated sectors, health techs typically have people at their heart. So whether you’re enhancing an element of the patient experience, or streamlining a key process to support clinicians, a desire to help others and improve health outcomes has to be one of the reasons why you’re here.
Health tech can be a tough sector. As I’ve mentioned, competition is rife and there’s lots of red tape and regulation involved. So whether you’re a tech developer improving the functionality of an app, or a marketeer hoping to introduce a product to new audiences, a genuine passion for helping others is a key trait that will help you to focus on that macro goal.