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Philips Health Innovation Port (HIP) – ein motivierender Ort für Startups © HIP@Philips

Philips fosters start-ups

Hamburg News visits apoqlar und Don'tBePatient GmbH in Health Innovation Port

The first Health Innovation Port in Hamburg has been opened Wednesday (October 11, 2017) by Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg. Located in building P, HIP is at the centre of events on the Philips’ campus. Since early 2017, nine innovative start-ups have been developing products, services and applications focusing on health, medical technology with experts at Philips GmbH. The company’s Personal Health, Health Systems, Philips Medical Research divisions and parts of production are all based in Hamburg. In June, the health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) became co-founder of HIP where it offers its own accelerator programme. Other companies in Hamburg’s health sector are expected to follow suit.

apoQlar – mixed reality in operating theatres

A team of nine led by Sirko Pelz, founder of apoQlar, is banking on mixed reality to help doctors perform complex surgeries. A virtual surgery instructor (VSI) allows 3D CT or MRI images to be displayed on mixed reality headsets. Prior to the operation and during its course, the surgeon gets a full image of all the anatomical structures. The device is controlled by voice and gestures and from any given perspective. “The mixed reality application identifies anatomic landmarks. And the 3D imaging allows the surgeon far more precision and to bypass health nerve tracts when removing a tumour,” Pelz explained. The VSI recently underwent a first test and is being developed in co-operation with Dr. Hans-Jürgen von Lücken, Head of the Department for Head and Neck Surgery at the Marienkrankenhaus.

Mixed reality to revolutionise surgery

The virtual reality instructor knows hardly any limits, said Pelz, adding: “The integrated microscope can enlarge images of tissue and all the data about a patient can be faded-in. The surgeon can discuss how the operation is proceeding with other doctors following it on external monitors. Mixed reality will revolutionise surgery. It is not a question whether it occurs in this manner, but rather if we can lead this revolution.” At present, apoQlar is looking for venture capital investors to be able to compete with leading national and international companies in the sector. Mixed reality applications in smart office, project visualisation and smart car fleet allow the company to finance itself for the moment.


Another start-up called Don’tBePatient GmbH is on a quest to ensure that patients take the motto of “No decisions about me without me!” to heart and based on lots of information. Led by Dr. med. Reiner Lehmann, the company wants to give cancer patients and especially breast cancer victims enough information to make conscious decisions about their own therapy. “Many patients have to cope with an influx of information on the internet, paradoxical recommendations and all kinds of influencing factors. When they are diagnosed with cancer, they find themselves in an extreme situation and have to decide on relevant, up-to-date and impartial information,” said Lehmann. The company’s online platform with an active patient community aims to link up patients, researchers, industry, hospitals and doctors in a digital forum to swop information and form opinions.

Large-scale study of 40,000 patients in eleven countries

Don’tBePatient places special emphasis on independent, second opinions and scientific studies. In Q1 2018, the company will launch a large-scale cancer study in co-operation with the German Foundation for Senology (Deutschen Gesellschaft für Senologie). Then “40,000 patients in eleven countries will be asked online about helpful information or what they found lacking,” said Lehmann. Based on the survey, doctors will compile tailor-made, understandable information and make it available on the platform. Lehmann stressed: “Well-informed patients in turn become valuable addressees for surveys when for instance, a pharmaceuticals company needs to know whether patients prefer a daily injection of medication at home or a weekly infusion in a hospital. Basically, many aspects of medical research can be rated by patients and made more efficient.” Ideally patients become better informed and critical, but without undermining their trust in doctors.

Tearing down walls

Both Don’tBePatient and apoqlar are among HIP’s tenants. But are they satisfied? “Yes, definitely. HIP is motivating, bright and with the right spirit of innovation – thanks also to the interaction possibilities with other start-ups.“ And capacities are still available. “If demand surpasses supply, we will just tear down a few walls,” said Peter Vullinghs, Chairman of the Board at Philips GmbH and CEO Philips Germany, Austria and Switzerland and Market Leader Health Systems, is the man behind HIP. The campus has a maximum capacity of 1,000 square metres.

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