Surgify, commercializing a technology to improve the safety, speed, and precision of a bone surgery to minimize risks has made a breakthrough in the medical field and become one of the most promising startups. Their disruptive idea and determinedness took them to victory; Surgify won the Pitch Captain Competition at *ship Startup Festival 2017!
Turning common to a rare
An estimated 770 000 skull opening procedures are performed worldwide every year. In approximately 30 percent of these surgeries, some degree of damage is caused to the soft tissues under the skull. These include nerves, blood vessels, and central nervous system structures. Their damage is common, especially among the elderly and the worst injuries lead to the death of the patient.
Visa Sippola, CEO and Co-Founder of Surgify, approached this problem by developing a successfully tested technology and brought surgical procedures to the next level.
The innovation is an add-on that helps effectively yet gently to separate the bone and the soft tissue beneath the bone while avoiding associated complications.
“We have developed the device with the mechanical tip that you can plug into the drill. This tip is simple to use and works actually with any kind of mechanical drill, but we are focusing on surgical drills. The tip that is plugged into the drill is a single use and makes the drill cut the bone while protecting all the nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissues. Hence, with the device, we are able to undergo safer bone surgery as it is unable to cut anything softer than bone”, Sippola describes.
When two intelligent heads meet
The journey to success got all started from back in 2014 when Sippola met Shahab Haeri who was an engineering student at Aalto University in Helsinki.
“I was working at neurosurgery research group at Helsinki University Hospital and saw a lot of procedures there. Upon realizing how often soft tissues get damaged during surgery, an idea of safer drill started to evolve in my mind”, Sippola says and continues:
“I met Shahab Haeri, a wonderful engineering student at Aalto University who was trying to find a topic for his master thesis. We started to cooperate to make the safer surgical drill and worked together for a quite long time. Our project was not easy as we struggled with various solutions to make it work. We tried different ways such as ultrasounds and sensors. Eventually, one turned out to be a very simple and effective.”
The innovative idea of Surgify attracted many and their determinedness and passion towards technology were recognized. Surgify not only won the Pitch Captain title at *ship 2017 but also gained attention internationally. Sippola was awarded Innovators Under 35 Europe 2017 -prize by MIT Technology Review and chosen as one of the top 100 influencers in the Finnish healthcare 2017 by Mediuutiset. The experts have described Surgify as “the incredible invention” that possess both simplicity and elegance.
Surgify is currently in the stage of product finalization and aims to get the device in the market in 2019. The company plans to launch the product first in Finland and in the other Nordic countries, after which the business is expected to expand rapidly to international markets.
Pushing through challenges
Big results require big ambitions and perseverance to push through the hardships. With this in mind, Surgify has faced various challenges along the journey and there is always one thing that they will have to deal with: making the technology meet the customer needs.
“Technology is always hiding challenges. Even if one is designing a simple and elegant device that is solving a huge problem, the simpler device you are attempting to make, the more difficult and complex it gets since you have to put more thought into it. Everyone can do something that is complex and expensive, but it is difficult to do something which is cost-efficient and effective”, Sippola describes and adds:
“Another big one is commercial aspects such as marketing and sales as well as competition. If you really want to succeed as a startup company, the further and faster you can go with the business, are what matter the most in the end.”
Fortunately, these challenges are only adding excitement to their journey and inspiring the team to move forward. After all, a predictable story is unsatisfying.
“Solving big challenges are the added value that startups generate. If you would not have any challenges it means that either value of the thing you are doing is somehow low or someone has already done it ”
Sippola says and continues:
“Possibilities are endless and that is what keeps me going as an entrepreneur.”
Once again, we are truly delighted to be part of their successful journey and can’t wait to see what great achievements the future will bring to Surgify!
*ship 2017 was remarkable as we had exceptionally two winners both striving to stir typicality and defy the boundaries. Read also the article of our another winner: Temu Materials.
Author: Mimi Hla is a third-year Business Management student living in Mikkeli. For this summer, she will be working as a communication coordinator in our *ship team. With her curious mind, she is passionate about traveling and exploring the world.