MedTech for good:
Making preventive screening accessible and affordable for all
A chat with Justin Chan, CEO and Co-founder of MedTech startup Gense Technologies, at the company’s bustling office demonstrated the genuine passion belonging to his international team of researchers and scholars. Despite the company’s slow start during their first few years, the team’s motivation to build a trustworthy and impactful product for health monitoring and preventive screening paid off.
Incorporated in 2017, Gense Technologies has raised over USD 4 million from more than 50 grants and investment partnerships in the past years. The team also holds numerous accolades, including the 2021 ICT Startup Grand Award, Winner of the Jumpstarter 2022 Global Pitch Competition, and most recently named as one of the Forbes Asia 100 to Watch 2022.
Changing healthcare needs in a post-COVID 19 era
With people becoming more conscious about their health and wellbeing, demand for accessible and affordable healthcare has increased significantly. Chan emphasised the importance of preventive screening, to detect and treat chronic diseases as early as possible. He noted the struggles of both hospitals and patients alike, where the general healthcare system is strained, while patients lack the time and money for frequent yet essential testing.
As a solution, Gense Technologies came up with a decentralised and portable medical imaging device, targeting clinics, elderly homes, individual households and offices, which can be self-administered by carers and family members in less than 30 minutes of training. For the past two years, the device has successfully aid patients in monitoring various organ functions, such as their lungs, liver and kidneys. In fact, many patients have been using it to scan for long-COVID effects in relation to the lungs.
The startup has been trialling their device in public hospitals with the aim to facilitate early detection of chronic diseases and closer follow-ups, as well as partnering with a number of medical distributors, insurance companies and pharmaceuticals to help monitor disease progression, whilst looking into developing community based screening in the future.
Hong Kong – a rich talent pool of international researchers and scholars
Chan met his co-founders at the University of Cambridge, where they put their heads together on ways to revamp imaging technology and bring good impact to the world. With partners coming from medical engineering and electronics backgrounds, they decided to pursue MedTech, and underwent countless trial and error before perfecting their craft.
The team is now made up of 25 people, among them holders of PhDs, with a mix of origins including Hong Kong, Africa, Americas and Europe. Although many were also educated abroad, the team felt it quite natural to set up an office in Hong Kong, which is renowned globally in terms of its medical capacities, hospitals and research quality – a base to garner more international trust in their projects and maintain a big presence.
Chan said, “Although we source globally in terms of talent, there are not many places in the world that could offer a better ecosystem for rapid prototyping then Hong Kong – it made sense to stay here for the official R&D resources.”
Tapping into the GBA and international market
With a base in Hong Kong, the startup not only benefits from the city’s many highly recognised attributes such as its financial and legal system, pool of professional talent and status as Asia’s HealthTech hub for innovation, but also enjoys exposure to different markets around the world. What’s more, its proximity to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) offers another stepping stone to transition their products and offerings into the vast Mainland market.
Gense Technologies has been approached by healthcare distributors from over 20 markets globally and counting, including Australia, Europe, the US and Mainland China.
Advice for HealthTech entrepreneurs and startups
“It’s good to start earlier, trial earlier, and make mistakes earlier – once you find a certain traction, you can then really dive in. Utilise the system more in terms of grants – there’s quite a lot of those (in Hong Kong) – and do work with academic partnerships. There are a lot of resources here, and they are helpful in gaining reputation and pushing your products to the next level.”
– Justin Chan, CEO and Co-founder of Gense Technologies