Digital Salutem
19 February 2016

How to set up your own digital health startup

By João Bocas

Salutem’s own digital health influencer and thought leader Joao Bocas shared his views on what it takes to set up your own digital health business and what inspired him to take the plunge with Digital Catapult Centre online readers this February.

Salutem would like to thank the team at Digital Catapult Centre for their time, and we look forward to discussing the many opportunities in this emerging industry with like-minded businesses and individuals. Here is the interview in full, enjoy!


What is the background behind Salutem? 

We have a deep understanding and expertise around wearable technologies, digital health, IoT and big data. Most of our time in the last few years was spent around healthcare innovation. We attended conferences, networked with other innovators and entrepreneurs, supported other startups and collaborated in projects with larger companies. This demonstrates the depth of our expertise and a strong capability to deliver.

What does Salutem do that is different from other digital health startups? 

While lots of startups are building technology solutions, we help our clients succeed with their innovations in the business world. Technology is the way forward, however we realise the high value in offering an expertise service, enabling tech companies to access market intelligence, product fit and business strategy from a practical and innovative point of view. We treat clients like true partners as if they were part of our own business, as it is crucial for us that they progress and achieve their goals.

“Salutem treat clients like true partners”

What or who inspired you to set up Salutem?

Salutem was born by accident, from another digital health startup. I was working in another startup, and things didn’t progress the way I expected. While I was wondering how to create another digital health company involving technology to leverage my skills and contacts, I was approached by several health tech companies outside of the UK, who wanted me to conduct some consultancy work. There it was – the light bulb moment!

Why focus on digital health?

Digital health is such an exciting area; the thought of making a difference at scale is very rewarding. Since I have been working in health, sport and wellness for over 10 years, it was a natural progression. Incorporating health technology solutions in people’s lives is in line with my personal passion and mission in life.

What have been the high points since starting Salutem? 

We’ve had an exciting start to 2016, with two or three new partners to be announced soon.  We have participated in a few health technology events so far, sharing our expertise and market insights. We are in the process of announcing a very exciting partnership with a very innovative company from Switzerland. Stay tuned for further announcements!

Have there been any low points or challenges?

Growing a team is very challenging in the early days, especially when you need high skilled professionals and don’t have the same level of resources to pay them yet. We deliver top end services to our partners, so our people must have the right skills to deliver at speed.

“Healthcare is a huge area to innovate in but challenging to get right.”

What’s your advice for those wanting to set up their own digital health startup?

Think about a specific problem that you are going to solve, stay as narrow and as focused as possible. I see a lot of startups trying to solve and cover a lot of things in the healthcare space. It is a huge area to innovate in but very challenging to get it right. Finally, make sure that you validate your product and concept before any major developments. In these days you don’t need to commit the same mistake that thousands of startups committed before you.

What does the future hold for Salutem?

I believe our future is very bright and exciting, as we have something many people need and want. We leverage our services and expertise, offering partners connections in over 10 European countries. More than 130 CEOs are in our network and we have over 5,000 contacts ranging from large pharmaceutical companies to very young startups. We will continue to work hard, pursuing our vision to make a strong impact on people’s lives through digital health and help our partners to succeed along the way.


Click here to read the interview on Digital Catapult Centre and to catch up on the latest news in the UK digital markets. 

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