1/2013

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To your health: Mobility and health technology by Lewel Group

If there’s one thing we take seriously, it’s our health. Billions are spent annually on cancer and virus research. But Mr. and Mrs. Average still think of health technology as big, lumbering machines like brain scanners, or as the Monty Python sketch states, machines that go “ping”. The Averages couldn’t be further from the truth.

Health tech has continuously moved towards smaller, more portable devices. We’ve already entered the world of eHealth, the online version of a doctor’s office, and are digging deep into mHealth, where not only is the eHealth service in your phone or tablet, but where life-saving devices fit into your pocket for emergency situations and where patients can upload crucial diagnostics from the gadget they put to their chest with a press of a button. Companies building devices for such needs have usually subcontracted development of software to a software company, hardware to a hardware company and so forth – and while this is all good and fine, Lewel Group sees this model becoming outdated, at least for their part.

Subcontracting with a twist

“We want to dig deeper in the client’s business needs regarding the larger scheme of the end product. It doesn’t mean that we would look down on the traditional subcontracting model, but we think we can provide much better results for the person using the device when we can dig into the hardware tech, the software tech and especially in the machine-to-machine integration”, says product manager Aleksi Ukkola.

With health technology spreading far and wide, Lewel plans on providing the client with a full concept of a wireless health network: a base platform on top of which the client’s products can be set, which then gets fine-tuned and branded by the client company and its needs. “This method is excellent for wellness and health products where there is wireless connectivity and remote monitoring. Automatic measuring is great, but when you think about it more deeply, it needs a large ecosystem, from close range connectivity and storage all the way to services in the cloud.”

Experience means quality

Lewel Group is only three years old as a company, but like so many newer companies in the region, it combines decades of product development in the mobile radio technology field. “Some of us have been doing the tech since the 90s, learning constantly along the way. Designing and developing not only durable mobile phones but also the base station cabinets needed for the network to run on for extreme conditions – at first, all that seems out of place in the mobile health device field. But when you think about the experience about making sure your product functions perfectly in severe conditions and has proven integration in a hardware package, the core is the same.” Apparently so – the company now employs around 100 people, has an expected revenue of over 8 million euro for 2013 and expectations for almost 50% growth within five years, thus doubling those figures.

“At first, it was sell, sell, sell. Now we’re seeing companies coming to us, asking us to help with a problem. They appreciate the Finnish work ethic and how we consider the best solutions from their perspective, not that of the result. Also, believe it or not, Finnish labor is becoming globally cost-effective, while maintaining the incredibly good quality”, says Kari Auranaho, Vice President at Lewel. “While some clients do say that Oulu is quite far away from wherever they are located, it apparently isn’t that big a problem”, he adds and smiles.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

It’s no surprise that quality means the world to a vibrant industry such as health technology, especially the mobile kind. Wireless charging, energy harvesting and the wider use of recently introduced energy-efficient wireless technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy are just the tip of the iceberg. “We’re not just expanding existing joint research with VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) but also initiating new collaboration with them, and currently have 15 projects under development. It’s a busy time.” Recent successes include Spektikor’s disposable heart rate monitor, and Lewel’s experience and ISO13485 played a big part in choosing them as a design partner. “The end result is superb – it’s something we can really be proud of”, claims Auranaho. No wonder the device’s first large contractors are NATO and the Finnish Defense Forces.

“We’re going right where we want to be: an experienced company based on quality development, with our eyes on the global market.”