This article is written by Julia Schölermann, PhD – organizer of Startup Weekend Bergen.
These days, a new parliament is being elected to represent over 500 million EU inhabitants. It’s no secret that election turnout has steadily dropped over the years: The EU and its initiatives have an image problem. EU guidelines and regulations are viewed as huge bureaucratic burdens for national governments and corporations.
However, surprisingly for some maybe, the EU has continuously worked towards creating dedicated and stimulating initiatives that help entrepreneurs and SMEs develop and grow their businesses. This is true for traditional enterprises that find business partners through the Enterprise Europe Network but especially for web entrepreneurs: Tech startup initiatives include competitions – Tech All Stars in London and Europioneers in Dublin – the startup manifesto supported by the most successful European tech founders and now also a brand new open source developer platform for Future Internet applications called FI-WARE.
FI-WARE is a huge chance for European startups to leverage the power of big data, cross-sectional collaboration and royalty free web app building blocks to create virtually any next big thing. Thus a broad spectrum of sectors is served.
FI…WHAT? FI-WARE is a developer platform financed and developed by the European Commission. It is innovative and complete insofar as it encompasses the following:
- Infrastructure to create services including generic and reusable building blocks,
- Cloud hosting,
- Possibility to access, process and analyse massive streams of data,
- Internet of Things – enablement,
- Open interfaces to networks and devices as well as
In other words, FI-WARE speeds up the development of web applications in general and in particular of those that rely on analysis of big data and cross-sectional collaboration. This is especially important in spaces like biotech and healthcare: Though we have continuously advanced technologically by developing new medicines and ways to sequence DNA cost- and time-effectively there still is a huge knowledge gap as to how these medicines actually work in the individual patient or how individual genetic information translates into actual health information.
When faced with their brother’s rare disease, two MIT engineers developed Patients Like Me whose business model is data mining the health entries of real patients. Thereby, patients learn which medicines work in other people with similar diagnoses or symptoms and health care providers get valuable anonymised feedback on their products. Actual patients (the platform registers 250,000 patients), researchers and industry are thereby integrated with the help of the analysis of massive streams of outcome-based health data. Patients Like Me has raised over 30 million USD in funding and has recently entered a 5-year agreement with biotech-giant Genentech.
Flatiron, established in 2012 by two founders who had previously been acquired by Google, is another example of a technology company that leverages big data to make healthcare more efficient as well as effective. Flatiron’s self-stated mission is to organise the world’s oncology data and make it useful for patients, physicians, life sciences and researchers. Their existing product OncoAanalytics (trademark) analyses electronic medical records and billing data to create insights for healthcare providers. This means that subscriptions of cancer cures are being mapped against actual therapy outcomes. Meanwhile, Flatiron recently raised 130 million USD in its series B venture capital round led by Google Ventures to create OncologyCloud. The platform is supposed to serve both cancer care providers and life science companies. Thereby, actual therapy outcomes will inform the improvement and new development of cancer medicines.
Globally, health care faces big challenges that technical innovations can help tackling: Increasing antibiotics resistances in many hospitals (what are the patterns here? what is done successfully by some hospitals and goes wrong in others?), an ageing population and chronic diseases (what DNA patterns can we see in people who age healthily? can we intervene in any way to help others to age healthily?) and access to healthcare (can mobile technology help to bring healthcare to rural areas in Africa or China?).
FI-WARE is a big contribution towards taking steps in these directions – what is missing are the visionaries, tech enthusiasts, designers, business developers, researchers and innovation evangelists who convene to take a grip and start building stuff. A good place to start is Startup Weekend – who with its many events in Europe is instrumental in helping the roll-out of FI-WARE. Startup Weekend Bergen (June 6-8) is official FI-WARE partner. This means you will be able to learn what FI-WARE is able to do for you already on June 4 at the official FI-WARE bootcamp (free and open also to people not attending Startup Weekend). The bootcamp is led by FI-WARE evangelist Benjamin Southworth who will be staying on during the subsequent Startup Weekend – helping you to build the next big thing!
SW Bergen is an official partner of our current project with the European Commission called FI-WARE. Their event promotes new cutting-edge technology ideas and prototypes. Just what FI-WARE aims to unleash – FI-WARE is an innovative, open cloud-based infrastructure for cost-effective creation and delivery of Future Internet applications and services, at a scale like no other. Driven by the development of an open source reference implementation and accelerating the availability of commercial products and services based, FI-WARE API specifications are public and free. We’re really excited for our community to use their expertise and experience to help test and validate the EC’s FI-WARE developer platform.