EIT Spotlight

Vigo : From education to innovation

Equipping the innovators of tomorrow to address the biggest health challenges of our time.

Every day we spark, shape and mould cutting-edge innovation; turning ideas into reality. Our ambition is to enable European citizens to live longer, healthier lives, and we are committed to addressing some of the greatest health challenges of our time. As part of this purpose, we educate future innovators and entrepreneurs via the EIT Health Campus programmes, so that they leave education primed and ready to create their own innovative solutions to improve lives.

From student to entrepreneur: Kristaps' Story

Spending time with stroke survivors during his EIT Health master’s degree led Kristaps Krafte to spot a significant gap in their care: long-term rehabilitation that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Fast forward to today and Kristaps – a graduate from the EIT Health Innovation in Health Care (IHC) Master’s programme at Copenhagen Business School – has launched his own health tech start-up, Vigo. Vigo is developing a stroke rehabilitation mobile application that uses artificial intelligence to help stroke survivors and their families - based on years of research in stroke treatment, psychotherapy and neuroscience.

The EIT Health IHC Master’s programme is a two-year, full-time programme that builds managerial, economic, organisational and business skills specifically in healthcare innovation.

Through this programme, Kristaps is just one of many students who are exposed to the challenges facing modern day healthcare, such as ageing population and chronic disease; it was during his studies that he was given the opportunity to research stroke care in two large research hospitals. The experience inspired him to create Vigo.

Team:
Kristaps Krafte, Janis Slezins, Marija Alehina

The impact of stroke: physical, psychological and economic

In Europe, stroke is the second most common cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability.1 As the population rapidly ages, the burden of stroke is expected to increase significantly, posing huge challenges to limited healthcare resources.2

There are physical, psychological and economic burdens associated with stroke which all require significant care, consideration and rehabilitation. Receiving rehabilitation has been shown to improve functional outcomes, decrease mortality and reduce the length of hospital stays.2

But stroke survivors often require long-term rehabilitation, which isn’t always easily accessible.

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Stroke is the second most common cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability.1

Cutting-edge technologies to help rehabilitate people in need

Soon after graduating from the EIT Health IHC Master’s programme, Kristaps founded Vigo, a digital therapeutic software using artificial intelligence to aid the recovery process of stroke survivors.

This new software is now undergoing a pilot trial in a large hospital stroke unit, with plans for it to be readily available on mobile devices. It supplies the user with information, knowledge and the skills needed to tackle the many challenges they face after experiencing a stroke. Making Vigo accessible at home helps address the challenges of long-term rehabilitation without adding additional pressures to healthcare systems.

Through the IHC programme, Kristaps developed valuable skills in healthcare, business and innovation, enabling him to create a solution with the potential to provide much needed support to stroke survivors and their families.

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"I suffered a stroke at 17 – it took me two years to be able to go back to school and have my life back again" – Lonija, stroke survivor

Acceleration of ideas, working towards a healthier future

Kristaps’ ambition chimed perfectly with EIT Health’s vision, and he went on to benefit from our Accelerator programme, which included mentorship programmes, innovation bootcamps, conferences and a place in our international Alumni network. The EIT Health Alumni Network cultivates connections with talented people just like Kristaps.

EIT Health Campus programmes advance healthcare and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills – allowing innovators to meet the real-world demands of a continent whose healthcare needs are in constant change.

Kristaps’ story and the development of Vigo is a perfect example of where this has become a reality.

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Stroke is the second most common cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability.1

"I suffered a stroke at 17 – it took me two years to be able to go back to school and have my life back again" – Lonija, stroke survivor

"The support that EIT Health has given me and my company has been invaluable" – Kristaps

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[1] Wolfe, P.C., McKevitt, P.C., Emmett, D.E., Wang, D.Y. and Stevens, E. (n.d.). The Burden of Stroke in Europe. [online] Stroke Alliance for Europe. Available at: https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/the_burden_of_stroke_in_europe_-_challenges_for_policy_makers.pdf [Accessed 26 Jul. 2019].
[2] ] Lui, S.K. and Nguyen, M.H. (2018). Elderly Stroke Rehabilitation: Overcoming the Complications and Its Associated Challenges. Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, 2018, pp.1–9.