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Spotify founder Daniel Ek, who has been working in stealth in the early days of his industry-changing music company, denying beta access to media, is now involved in another project kept in similar secrecy: a healthtech startup. The project, called HJN Sverige, also involves Hjalmar Nilsonne, the founder of the exited Swedish energy startup Watty.
Technology is impacting healthcare on numerous levels. From a patient’s point of view, technology can enhance their experience. From a healthcare provider’s point of view, it can streamline processes and workflow, improve efficiency, and create new revenue streams.
While the future of technology is difficult to predict, it will certainly continue to transform the healthcare industry.
Renowned tech wiz Daniel Ek spoke openly about his passion for healthcare back in 2013, when he told the Financial Times he spent hours trying to find ways to fix a “screwed-up” healthcare system.
HJN Sverige was founded in 2018 and has Hjalmar Nilsonne as its CEO. The company is very secretive about how it is going to achieve its goals. However, with Daniel Ek as one of its investors, it doesn’t lack resources. And if this start-up did not make the cut for the best healthcare start-ups to watch for in 2022, who knows what the next year might bring?
Although HJN Sverige declined to comment, according to company documents and a quickly taken-down web page, the company looks likely to roll out a programme of non-invasive diagnostics. That would be a response to calls from doctors and policymakers for more preventative medicine to keep people healthy and lower future healthcare costs.
Recent legal documents filed with the Swedish company registry state that the company will sell “products and services in diagnostics as well as conducting examinations and health checks on the private market”, suggesting the company will have both B2B and B2C arms.
The start-up’s first physical location can be visited on a quiet street on Kungsholmen in central Stockholm, opposite the offices of the construction company Skanska. It is a primary care facility, called Atrium, that opened last month. There were no signs of other patients when Sifted reporters visited, but according to the website, one can make bookings, and the place is probably the only primary care in Stockholm where someone can get an appointment for the next day.
The question is, other than operating this recently opened clinic, what exactly do HJN Sverige and the sister company HJN Proaktiv Hälsovård [Proactive Healthcare] do?
According to the startup’s website, the clinic wants to offer patients an advanced health check that can be part of regular preventative care, as well as day-to-day healthcare services with some services available online.
On the B2B side, the startup is looking to sell machine learning and diagnostics tools to other healthcare providers, as well as hardware. But it’s got to test its technology and input data for the machine learning to work — and for that the company needs people.
Some information from the company website, that has been deleted, according to Sifted, after they reached the company for comments, said the start-up will launch a range of non-invasive scientific research collaborations, starting with a programme on whole-body scanning this month — and is looking for people, and not only its own patients, to volunteer. At the beginning of next year, the company will start research programmes for advanced skin imaging, healthy hearts and preventative care.
Sifted found out from two separate sources connected with the company that it’s building an arc-shaped device, similar to an airport security scanner which could provide non-invasive scans for blood pressure, irregularities in blood flow and skin conditions and provide precise medical diagnostics.
Diving deeper into documents for HJN Sverige at the Swedish Companies Registration Office, Sifted finds that some of Ek’s shares have been allocated to his investment firm Prima Materia, through which Ek plans to invest €1bn in “moonshots”. Ek has also invested in the company from his private investment company Antheia Investments. Ek owns approximately 60% of the shares and Nilsonne has been allocated 38%. A small percentage of shares are owned by the UK startup Spectroma, which is based in Oxfordshire.
Spectroma, founded in 2020, describes itself as a deeptech company building an advanced medical imaging device using radiofrequency imaging. Considering that HJN Sverige is supposedly building a medical scanner, Spectroma looks like a good fit for what Ek and Nilsonne are trying to achieve.
This endeavor is rare since startups in the preventative care sector have usually focused their efforts on making small devices or software. For personal use there are bits of tech like the Oura ring, various smart headbands to use while sleeping, smart wristbands, home testing, blood tests and so on. When it comes to software for preventative medicine, most are focused on tools that accompany other medical equipment like Idoven’s heart disease prediction AI.
There are no limits to what the future might bring for bold investors and the companies they choose to support. According to Dealroom, VCs have put nearly $18bn into European biotech startups since the start of 2020, roughly the same amount that they invested in the six years prior. The pandemic opened VC eyes to the possibilities of healthtech, and has shown no signs of slowing down since.
Going back to Ek, HJN is not his only healthtech investment in Sweden — the blood testing company Werlabs and the digital health provider Kry, which he owns 3% of, are two other healthcare tech companies he chose to pour money into. As for HJN, a spokesperson for the company said that what Sifted has found “is just a small piece of the puzzle of what’s to come”.