Nokia Technologies, wasting no time with deploying its latest acquisition Withings, announced a new partnership with Finland’s largest neurology and leading stroke center at HUS/Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki. Withings devices will be used to develop home-based remote monitoring platforms for HUS. This marks Nokia/Withings move into clinical-level monitoring from its present base in wellness devices. HUS is a five-hospital system centered on Helsinki University Hospital. Its Department of Neurology treats 14,000 patients each year at the Meilahti Hospital Neurological Outpatient Clinic, and specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of diseases of the nervous system or the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system and muscles. Nokia release mHealth Intelligence
Nokia is on a roll, closing on the Withings acquisition 31 May and opening up a headquarters in San Francisco for their Digital Health business unit led by Cédric Hutchings, the former Withings CEO. A week later, they announced the Withings Body Cardio which measures in seconds weight, BMI, body composition (fat, muscle, water and bone mass), standing heart rate and PWV — a measurement that is a key indicator of cardiac health and associated with hypertension and risks of cardiovascular incidents. It will be sold only on Withings.com and Apple Stores worldwide, priced at $179.95. In early June, Nokia announced the 4th annual Open Innovation Challenge focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) for public safety, connected automotive, industry 4.0, digital health, utilities, security and smart cities. Submissions close 15 August. The Nokia Growth Fund has a $350 million piggybank for IoT investment (and we hope secure IoT).
Nokia is also proceeding with the full acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, establishing a 5G network and licensing its brand name to HMD for mobile phones.
Forbes also has a fairly long disquisition on why Nokia is moving into healthcare, citing PWC’s 2014 forecast of a $ 2.8 trillion US “new health economy” in the next ten years. But our Readers saw it here first in October and April!
“We’re paying for the company, but in reality it’s Withings that’s going to be running the entire digital health business at Nokia.” –Nokia President Ramzi Haidamus
One of the more unusual corporate pivots has taken place over the past few years with Finnish former mobile phone leader Nokia. and has completed a circle with the seemingly friendly acquisition of digital health device and wearables developer Withings.
With the sale of its phone brand to Microsoft in 2013 and the majority acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent last year (finalized in January), Nokia seemed to reposition itself firmly in telecom networking. It retained an impressive brace of IP and international patents in the field managed by Nokia Technologies, plus licensing of its name. Nokia also introduced a successful iPad Mini clone in China, the N1 Android tablet, a virtual reality camera rig built for film studios and sold the HERE map app for $3 bn. But the company retained an interest in health tech over those years. In 2012, it started the annual Nokia Sensing XChallenge, a $2.25 million competition that is part of XPRIZE. Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) invests in the digital health sector.
We noted their below-the-radar health moves last October, and this confirms that true to the reports, Nokia had been been developing a digital health strategy called WellCare, centered on data and insights collected from wearables. WellCare will now apparently be integrated into Withings. The combination will also be competitive with Apple HealthKit and ResearchKit, which has had extensive takeup by both developers and clinical researchers–but there is plenty of room in the field. Withings retains a strong and uniquely quality design-driven identity, though perhaps not the most well known brand especially in the US, and has a small share in covetable, pricey fitness wearables. But it’s the integration and developments which will be of great interest after the expected closing in 3rd quarter this year. Two articles in Engadget (here, here) and The Verge
Updated: Mobihealthnews publishes an interview with Nokia’s president Mr Haidamus on why Withings, calling it a ‘reverse takeover’ where Withings will be in charge of expanding their health tech presence with no layoffs on either side. However, he’s a little disingenuous in implying that Nokia had no interest in digital health prior to selling their handset business to Microsoft in 2014–see the XChallenge above.
Building its way towards a comeback is Nokia, once a global power in mobile phones and now, after selling its handset business to Microsoft two years ago, strictly (and profitably) in telecom networking equipment–for the time being. In April there was the €15.6 bn Alcatel-Lucent acquisition which includes famous research powerhouse Bell Labs; in January it launched the N1 Android tablet in China and days ago a “virtual-reality camera”. It also will license its name to other mobile phone makers when their non-compete expires in 2016. The real value of Nokia rests in its IP and worldwide patents which can be used in multiple areas. Since 2012 it also staked a claim in healthcare with the Nokia Sensing XChallenge for innovation in remote health monitoring. Mentioned but briefly in the Reuters article is that their technologies division is working on health-related projects. Deliberately staying below the radar? Hat tip to David Doherty (@mHealthInsight) via Twitter to remind this Editor of Nokia’s health ‘chops’.