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RAPID-Health is an accelerator program co-developed by Tiger Accelerator, TGN (Taiwan Globalization Network), and ROM Utrecht Region. RAPID stands for Regional Accelerator Program for Innovation & Development, and its aim is to introduce international entrepreneurship and international cutting-edge technologies in the health & life sciences sectors into Dutch and European markets, by way of Utrecht’s extensive and resourceful innovation ecosystem.  

Since the project’s initiation in 2019, RAPID-Health has introduced more than 30 Taiwanese medtech startups to European investors, European business partners, research partners, and other key stakeholders. This is indeed a mutually beneficial arrangement: Utrecht is able to identify fitting medtech talents and innovators that fulfill the Region’s needs in the health & life sciences sector, and Taiwanese entrepreneurs also find in RAPID-Health their first step for accessing the European healthcare market.


Health for Utrecht: 3 gaps to be fulfilled by international innovation


Through a thorough Gap Analysis of different value chains and markets in the health space, Utrecht Region has identified 3 key areas in which international entrepreneurs can bring significant value. 


The first area can be labeled Unmet Needs: scenarios where Utrecht does not have a specific technology or a specialized body of knowledge that might be in demand in the Region. Artificial Intelligence and Medtech research & development, for example, belong to this category. In the present year, another specifically relevant unmet need is pandemic prevention — a field in which Taiwanese innovators demonstrated notable success.


The second area can be labeled Strategic Alignment: innovation that matches Utrecht’s direction of progress for the future roadmap of healthcare in the region. Specifically, Utrecht is moving towards personalized healthcare informed by the data on individuals: one’s DNA, lifestyle, exposure to different health risk factors and so on. Utrecht is seeking innovative companies with solutions that can fit into this vision.


The third area can be labeled Ongoing Research: where there is existing research interest in the Region about certain topics of health, with opportunities for international innovation to contribute to the current research efforts. An example of this category in the Region is One Health research: an interdisciplinary project in studying the connection between human health and veterinarian health, how humans and animals interface with each other in the environment, including the ecological context, the spread of diseases among them and so on. 


In all three areas identified by the Gap Analysis, there are possibilities for Taiwanese companies at various Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) to bring value to the Utrecht Region and access the European Market.


Reasons to join RAPID for Taiwanese companies at different stages of business maturity

There are many advantages for Taiwanese health-tech startups to participate in the RAPID program. Firstly, Europe’s health sector is a sizable and attractive market, and an opportunity to enter this geography is certainly desirable for ambitious entrepreneurs. Secondly, since the European healthcare infrastructure and healthcare culture are very different from the healthcare systems in Asia, RAPID provides quality insights on how the health sector is organized in Europe — this is a body of knowledge that might be difficult for smaller Taiwanese businesses to gather outside of RAPID. Thirdly, specifically in the Utrecht Region, there are plenty of resources and partners to support international companies that do find a market fit in the Netherlands and in Europe.


A unique feature of the RAPID program is that the health sector in Utrecht Region has 3 categories of gaps to be filled by international innovation, and each category  might have different requirements for the technology readiness level and business maturity of the companies it demands. To contribute to the Unmet Needs in the Region in AI and Medtech, for example, a Taiwanese company might need a technology readiness level (TRL) of 6 or above, and should already have an established customer base in other regions before entering Europe. For the Strategic Alignment and Ongoing Research categories, on the other hand, a company with a TDL level of 4 to 6 might fit the profile, as there are local partners in Utrecht that can cooperate with them on medical validation and on other technology requirements to become ready for the Dutch and European markets. 


What happens for the participants after the RAPID program? 

Depending on the specific business needs a startup has, they can follow a number of distinct routes after attending the RAPID program. A company can, for example, join Utrecht INC, a world-class health incubator with a high rate of success amongst its alumni. For another company, it might be possible to set up a subsidiary or joint venture, and start selling their product in the Dutch/European market. Alternatively, a company might be seeking further medical validation in the Netherlands, while another one might be able to identify funding opportunities in the country. 


Since the RAPID program is connected with resourceful organizations and networks that support innovation and entrepreneurship in the Netherlands, there are many possible routes for RAPID-Health participants to proceed after completing the RAPID program. Would you like to find out what possibilities RAPID holds for your company? You can read more about this year's program here, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. We’ll be glad to provide you with more information.

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