Start-ups Meet Pharma Cohort 2021 – The Abbott challenge

Tools for monitoring loss of muscle, strength and/or physical function, to manage sarcopenia and frailty in the elderly is the final challenge for this year’s Start-ups Meet Pharma programme set by Abbott.

18 start-ups from Germany, Austria, UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Italy, Finland, Greece, Spain, Estonia and Israel have been selected for the Start-ups Meet Pharma 2021 cohort. This year, five challenges have been released in collaboration with five EIT Health Partners: Abbott, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Merck and Takeda.


Let’s take a closer look at Challenge #5:

Tools for monitoring loss of muscle, strength and/or physical function, to manage sarcopenia and frailty in the elderly by Abbott

Age-related loss of muscle mass and strength leads to loss of physical function and presents major health and economic burden to society. With a current lack of easy screening/diagnostic tools, awareness of age-related muscle and strength loss is low. Therefore, the Abbott challenge focuses on easy screening/diagnostic tools that identify people at risk of muscle mass/strength/physical function loss that can be easily integrated into a digital system tied to recommendations for treatment/management.

Of the 18 applications received for this challenge, four start-ups were selected and will proceed to the next round: Gripwise (Portugal), QoLWare (Germany), Walk with Path (Denmark), Trak Health (Spain).


Let’s find out more about their individual solutions:


Your solution to the challenge: Gripwise System comprises a digital dynamometer, accessories, mobile apps and a GDPR compliant cloud platform. The system is based on the patented smart load cell that enables the assessment of force and force profile in compression, but also in traction, and with the attachment of different accessories, will be able to assess force from multiple muscle groups in a gamified way.

What makes it a good fit? The prototypes were tested in several environments related to frailty and sarcopenia, being the ground for several publications and an international patent. Our solution aims to reduce the cost of use, grounding the business model in a monthly fee for the hardware and software service. We simplify the assessments by using the mobile app that includes a step-by-step assessment workflow, based on the different protocols used for frailty and sarcopenia.

Major expectations from the programme: Our main goal is to clearly understand the needs of the industry, and how can we comply with them. We think our solution can be scaled in the nursing homes and pharmacies segments, helping to sell nutritional supplements. In one sentence: We want to see mutual benefits and transform them into business opportunities.

The long-term vision for your start-up: We aim to have the most effective system to help professionals in the ageing space to change the behaviours of their patients, engaging them in keeping healthy nutrition and physical activity habits. To do it, we intend to simplify the connection between caregivers, sports professionals and primary care professionals, in order to preventively screen and monitor all the potential frail elders. The screening will be their biggest step facing the understanding of the condition and changing daily habits.



Your solution to the challenge: A platform for the assessment of frailty in intervention studies using wearable sensors.

What makes it a good fit? Qolware platform is the only patient management platform that integrates sensor and clinical data for the automatic assessment of physical decline and loss of muscle. By using wearable sensors in the activities of daily living, screening for sarcopenia becomes more accurate and easier, for the patient as well as for the clinician.

Major expectations from the programme: Acquiring pharma companies as users of our platform for their clinical trials.

The long-term vision for your start-up: To become the leading provider of wearable solutions for patient management.


Walk with Path

Your solution to the challenge: Path Feel, gait-analysing smart insoles, will prevent serious injuries and death in elderly people by detecting sarcopenia, encouraging activity, and providing haptic (vibrational) feedback. Data collected is analysed with AI and displayed in a smartphone app and downstream dashboard, Path Insight (PIn), to allow patients and their selected healthcare professionals (HCPs) to track their health status.

What makes it a good fit? Path Feel continuously measures truly reflective parameters, including gait speed and balance that can provide a simple, bias-free risk assessment and screening tool for sarcopenia. Additionally, Path Feel provides patented vibrational feedback to reduce fall risk by enhancing foot sensation. Meanwhile, Path Insight, co-created with physiotherapists, GPs, podiatrists, and the American Association of Retired People, gathers data and urges users to maintain activity levels through patient awareness and education. HCPs can customise and receive emails with a summary of key metrics to personalise care.

Major expectations from the programme: We are at a time where after five years of R&D we are ready to launch a first of its kind smart insole, validated against the gold standard, Vicon system gait lab. This programme could prove to be the opportunity we need for further sustainability of our company and delivering this insole as a life-altering tool that will revolutionise personalised medicine, remote patient monitoring, and clinical trials.

The long-term vision for your start-up: The long term vision for Walk With Path is to be the leading smart insole on the market, whereby we utilise our leading AI gait analysis to improve the health and lives of older people worldwide. We hope to co-launch with Abbott, in bringing this medical device into common use for older people as a screening tool and integrated into healthcare systems. The expectation is for the insoles to be reimbursed through healthcare systems worldwide.


Trak Health

Your solution to the challenge: Trak has developed an artificial vision algorithm, more specifically pose estimation, which detects the patient’s movements, corrects them in real-time and transmits data to the physiotherapist on how the patient has been rehabilitated.

What makes it a good fit? Trak complemented what Abbot offers to the patients with a tool for monitoring patients’ physical function with objective data and without needing any wearables. Trak has developed physical exercise programs for older adults that help prevent and treat: Sarcopenia, cardiovascular disease (hypertension), frailty, sedentary lifestyle, obesity or diabetes. Another point that sets us apart is the protocols generated, which are specific for geriatric patients.

Major expectations from the programme: Trak expects to learn its value proposition for pharma companies, learn and work from experts all over the world and network with other entrepreneurs and important agents from the health environment. However, Trak’s major objective is to build a long-term relationship with Abbott.

The long-term vision for your start-up: Trak aims to impact and improve the quality of life of thousands of patients, bringing the healthcare centre to the patient’s house and the professional closer to them, working hand in hand with insurances, hospitals and pharma.