Aktiia: When Medicine and Technology Join for a Greater Cause
Over 45% of the American population struggles with high blood pressure. In an age where technology is at its peak and medicine is a witness to countless innovations a day, the numbers are still alarming. Hypertension has been a silent and steady killer hovering over people’s heads for quite some time now, and something needed to be done.
Two Swiss tech-geniuses, Mattia Bertschi and Josep Sola embarked on a journey of merging technology and medicine and revolutionized the way hypertension is treated. They introduced the first-ever blood-pressure monitoring technology.
Their revolutionary Aktiia is a company concerned with producing medical devices that measure and maintains a patient’s blood pressure. The goal is to save lives, reduce worldwide healthcare costs and prevent any further accidents with their invention of a monitoring bracelet.
The story of Aktiia is one of action and consequences. The duo launched their project only to contribute to blood pressure monitoring technology. Read the fascinating story down below.
Mattia Bertschi was born in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland in the early 1980s. Mattia was a very kind and understanding child. He was very much beloved by his family. Mattia’s favorite pastimes included spending quality time with relatives. He was a very clever child and caught a handle on things from a very early age. Young Mattia excelled in school and made his parents continuously proud, bringing home good grades.
Mattia’s inevitable talent shined through in his adolescence as well, when he shifted his interests into science. Mattia was impressed by the overthrow of technology and the countless inventions and wanted to dwell more on the field. He was curious about the mechanics that went on behind the screen. He wanted to know how things functioned. Mattia pursued this desire of his and in 1994, he graduated from high school with a degree in sciences. The same year, Mattia enrolled in the EPFL college in Lausanne to earn himself a degree in engineering. Joseph Sola was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in the late 1980s. Growing up, Joseph was constantly surrounded by his family that encouraged his talents. He loved to come up with solutions to everyday issues and brainstorm different ideas consisting of various medical aspects.
For most of his childhood, Joseph wanted to be a doctor, as healing other people and offering medical advice was what fueled his day. For most of his early days, Joseph was a witness to his relatives’ battle with high and uncontrollable blood pressure. The devastating effects that such a common problem might cause weighed heavily on Joseph, who vowed to use his smarts for a greater cause.
Like Mattia, Joseph pursued a career in engineering, but in the University of Catalunya.
What connects these two like-minded people was their inspiration and motivation towards intertwining technology with medicine. Both had misfortunes with relatives who struggled with common problems such as high blood pressure. Just like Mattia, Joseph also thought that the era of technology is far too advanced for a problem like this to still thrive. Both were on a mission to change that.
Engineers Playing Scientists
In 2001, Mattia left EPFL with a Master’s degree in electrical engineering. He believed that the field of medicine lacked that high-tech touch so he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical engineering. It was during this period that Mattia and Joseph first crossed paths at Lausanne Tech University.
Once their professional paths met, Mattia and Joseph continued co-working together at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology which brought about many fruitful insights into treating illnesses using engineering and medicine. They bonded over similar issues growing up and decided to take a deeper look into treating hypertension. The outdated measuring process with inflatable cups seemed to stagnate. The young scientists focused on new ways to diagnose and heal patients with blood pressure issues.
Between 2005 and 2017, Mattia and Joseph were busy testing over 30 techniques and conducted over 10 studies that contribute to producing the ‘cuffless blood pressure R&D process’. In the meantime, Joseph earned his Ph.D. in Continuous non-invasive blood pressure estimation. This was his way of building his resume and gathering as much information as to put a stop to the illness.
The duo wanted to reinvent the way high blood pressure is measured and treated, once and for all. According to their studies, they can finally move past that 100-year old inflated cup measuring process.
Over 15 years of research of heart signals and estimating blood pressure variances, the duo decoded key markers that detect higher levels of blood pressure. With this insight, Mattia and Joseph did not just want to license their technology to some gigantic medical firm. Instead, the young scientists wanted to produce their own stylish, wearable product that will reach as many people as quickly as possible.
In July of 2018, Mattia and Joseph launched Aktiia – a company whose goal is to market the wearable, blood-pressure monitoring device or wristbands. The cuffless optical Blood Pressure Monitoring Technology or oBPM became the invention of the century! It finally eliminated the inflatable cup measuring process, which everybody was fed up with. With it, patients can monitor their blood pressure ahead of time, and act on any issues before it’s too late.
Aktiia’s headquarters remained in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where the duo conducted most of their studies. At first not many gave the wearable monitor a second thought, but its practicality and accuracy are what draw in many patients and doctors that gave the medical device the recognition it needed.
The Only Way Is Up
In September of 2018, Aktiia raised $4M in a seed round led by TransLink Capital and Redalpine. This is where Aktiia recruited angel investors from all over the world, including Christian Wenger from Switzerland and Sparks Street Capital from the USA. In 2019, Aktiia was named one of the top 5 Medtech Startups for the future. This meant that the good word of the monitoring bracelet was getting across the globe.
In March of 2020, Aktiia raised another $6M from Radalpine and with this investment, the company was ready to expand to the world. In January 2021, Aktiia took the market by storm and opened its offices in Zurich and the USA. By the spring of 2121, Aktiia’s innovative 24/7 cuffless blood-measuring monitor was introduced to the world.
Aktiia really boomed in the world of medicine when the duo’s wearable monitoring wristband proved to be accurate for a few months in a row. This meant that the product produces proper results and does aid in reducing risk and life-threatening situations. People were growing more interested in the idea of replacing traditional blood pressure measurements with a new, cuffless one.
Today, Aktiia has up to 50 employees who work tirelessly on producing new ways of tackling blood pressure and related illnesses. Its headquarters are still in Neuchâtel, Zurich, and the USA.
Over the years, the company has raised a total of $10M in funding for over 2 rounds. It gathered more than 7 investors who strongly believe in the company’s potential.
Up until January 2021, one million blood pressure readings have been conducted thanks to Aktiia’s oBPM.
Some of Mattia and Joseph’s plans for the future involve expanding to other areas of the world, where innovation can save countless lives and help thousands of people. The young entrepreneurs also plan on expanding treatments to cover illnesses other than hypertension. The duo wants to create more medical devices that give proper insight, much like the OBPm does.
From two talented coworkers to brilliant scientists, Mattia and Joseph reshaped medicine’s approach to treating high blood pressure. By constantly maintaining the causes and preventions, more lives are saved and medical bills spared.
By believing that medicine needs to move at the same rate as technology, every household can have its own wearable monitoring device. Prevention is key for most illnesses, and thanks to the little life-saving gadget, more high-pressure-related deaths can be averted. Thanks to Aktiia’s wristband, keeping blood pressure in check has never been easier. Most probably, this revolutionary gadget isn’t the only thing we’ll see of Mattia and Joseph.