Meet Sleepiz – one of our Regional European Health Catapult and Headstart winners
Swiss MedTech start-up develops revolutionary sleep disorder screening device
Interview with Max Sieghold, Co-Founder of Sleepiz
Sleepiz AG is the only startup to win both prizes, one of the European Health Catapult Awards in the category of Digital Health as well as the Headstart Grant at the SHIP event organized by EIT Health Germany with more than 100 participants.
As a follow-up and to get a better view of what Sleepiz AG is and how they started, we interviewed the Co-founder Max Sieghold:
Q: Let us start with a general question so all the readers can get to know you better, what is Sleepiz?
A: SleepIiz is a medtech and digital health start-up that was founded by three PhD students from the ETH Zürich and one master student from the University of Saint Gallen (HSG). We have developed a device that performs home screening of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea (a disorder suffered by 1 billion people globally!), without being in physical contact with the patient. Our device is placed on the bed side and is able to automatically diagnose and share this data in real time with your doctor. One of the major advantages of the device is that monitoring and screening can now be done without any cables or wires within the patient’s home – thereby increasing comfort for the patient and reducing the workload of the clinician.
Q: Is Sleepiz still in touch with ETH Zürich? And how?
A: Definitely, we have a very active relationship with them. Two of our co-founders are involved in projects at the university and we try to work together with different institutes whenever we can – our office is only a five-minute walk from ETH Zürich.
Q: How did you hear about EIT Health?
A: This is a very interesting question. We participated in the MassChallenge Switzerland Accelerator program, where we were nominated as one of the Top 12 startups out of more than 450 applicants. One of the events at MassChallenge was co-sponsored by EIT Food and that is how we learned about the possibilities for young companies within the EIT network.
Q: Well, that is one way to hear about us. What happened next?
A: I got in touch with the Communication Manager of EIT Health Germany, Christine Neumann. She informed us about the options and possibilities we can have in EIT Health. Shortly after that, we attended two events, the ideation camp organized by EIT Health in Grenoble and an EIT Health workshop in Erlangen about real world data in healthcare. Both events were very helpful to connect with people in the healthcare domain and gave us new ideas on how to improve our products.
Q: How did you progress since then?
A: We officially founded our company in the beginning of the year, completed two pilot studies with our minimum viable product, and were able to have our first clinical validation. As part of the progress, we hired our first full-time employees, set up our office in the center of Zürich, and established our own sleep laboratory. Last but not least, we took part in the SHIP event as you already know. At the moment we are in the industrialization phase of our product and are negotiating with first customers.
Q: The progress is impressive. So what other sources of support do you have?
A: We received funding from Horizon 2020, EIT, Innosuisse – the Swiss Innovation agency, and the Swiss Federal Foundation for Promotion of the National Economy. Moreover, we have partnerships with large hospitals, world renowned research institutions in Switzerland, and full support from our very experienced advisory board.
Q: What are your short-term and long-term goals?
A: By the end of this year we aim to realize the device completely and start the manufacturing of the first certifiable devices. In the next three years, we plan to enter the sleep apnea diagnosis market starting with Switzerland and Germany and then move on to other selected European and Asian markets.
Q: Do you have any tips for start-ups who look up to you?
A: There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. First of all, you need a really good team – not only one with excellent and diverse skills, but also one that you can trust. Second, you need a good network – the foundation of any start-up is based on a network of stakeholders that will eventually help and provide for various challenges. The network is usually composed of investors, technical experts, suppliers, and potential customers such as hospitals in our case. Third, the location plays a very crucial role, it is what facilitates everything else – in the end the entire ecosystem counts as a whole.
Q: If someone would like to learn more about Sleepiz, what is the best way to get in touch with you?
A: Just write me an email or come by our office in Zürich.