At the GTEC Grand Opening on 1st July we announced the four startups who have already gained exclusive membership to the GTEC | Lab. The criteria “technology-driven with the potential for global relevance” and selection process (passing under the scrutiny of GTEC’s directors and founder partners) were tough. Each has huge potential. You can read about our other Lab startups here.
For today … meet INTACT Healthcare:
The nuts and bolts:
INTACT Healthcare, an Italian startup, designs, patents, develops, and distributes innovative healthcare hardware and software, which promotes accident prevention and patient safety. Founded in 2013 by Nicholas Caporusso and Gianluca Lattanzi, INTACT has three products on the market in Italy: the dbGlove (a connected wearable device which helps blind and deaf people communicate); ICE (an interactive wristband containing the most important information about your health); Smartcare software (a platform for managing healthcare records); and a fourth in development: Fall Arm (a wristband for people prone to falling telling them when their risk is highest).
We talked to Nicholas about the idea behind INTACT and why the move to Berlin will take their startup to the next level.
Where did the idea come from?
During my Computer Science Masters in Bari, the town on Italy’s south-east coast where I grew up, the Human Computer Interaction Professor gave us a simple task: solve a problem, any problem. At the time, I was volunteering at a local centre for disabled people and knew two deaf-blind people; if their helper wasn’t there, they were completely isolated. They were my inspiration: how could I use technology to change that, to improve their quality of life? The idea for what would later become our dbGlove – a wearable device which transmits and translates messages to and from deaf-blind people – was born. That was 2004.
What was the journey from student with an idea to CEO of a medtech startup?
The dean of the university liked the device idea so much that he asked me to create a university spin off. But with no business or entrepreneurship exposure (my parents worked for state-owned businesses) I didn’t feel ready. I wanted to finish my studies first, so I completed a Computer Engineering PhD in Lucca and a Certificate in Technology Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University in California. The US experience exposed me to an entirely new business culture – focused on innovation, scaling, reaching out to an international market, risky business models. But when I got back to Italy in 2011, no-one was talking about startups – just family and lifestyle businesses, handed down from generation to generation, as they always had.
My university friend Gianluca (INTACT’s co-founder) and I started thinking about how to create an environment for startups. Our answer was to found non-profit QIRIS.org – a hub for fostering innovation and promoting a local startup ecosystem, delivering startup programs in collaboration with local government. We founded the profit version of QIRIS in 2012 to develop software, which we then sold to a company in Milan and used the capital to found INTACT.
In 2013 INTACT won a small business competition from the Bari Chambers of Commerce. The prize was a grant of 110 thousand euros; the requirement to develop four prototypes, including the dbGlove.
It’s about Germany, but mostly it’s about Berlin. The German medtech industry is already well-developed and used to working with startups. You’ve got Bayer, you’ve got the Fraunhofer Institut, just so many experts in the field who are open to collaboration. Berlin gives us best access to this and the international market.
And why GTEC?
We heard about GTEC through Smau, Italy’s leading tradeshow for innovation which had its first ever Berlin exhibition in March this year, and knew the GTEC | Lab was for us. We’ve spent the last two years developing our products: dbGlove, ICE wristband, Smartcare software, and the Fall Arm. At the beginning of the development process we had no idea as to how to feed these products into a simple business model. Experimenting with going to market in Italy showed us we needed to sell B2B not B2C – our customers are cut off from advertising but the associations and people working with them are not. And, we established a consulting arm for other companies in the medtech space to bring in additional revenue. We have a clear, sustainable business model and four great products. But now it’s time to move from being a startup focused on product development to being a startup focused on selling. GTEC gives us the support, the location, the expertise from people who have done something similar, to make this big.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do?
In August we’re locking ourselves in the GTEC | Lab and in FabLab Berlin (GTEC’s innovation lab partner) to fix final problems. In September we’re going out to sell – in Italy, Germany, and the UK!
Thanks Nicholas – we’re delighted to have you and Gianluca in the GTEC | Lab!
Check out INTACT’s video on the dbGlove: