Those who count Las Vegas, Austin, and Orlando as premiere health tech conference destinations will want to add London to the list – pronto! That’s where Europe holds its own festival of health tech innovation. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we said FESTIVAL – not conference or expo – and we said it with an English accent. So get your passport, catch a plane, and direct your gaze to clouds – after all, that’s where a GIANT and his mythical beanstalks are to be found.
Oh, and did we mention that attendees of this GIANT of a festival will have the opportunity to register new .health domains for free? More on that later…
We recently sat down with the founder of GIANT.Health, Barry Shier, and learned more about why he created the festival and what you can expect this year. Check out the interview below (edited for length and clarity).
dotHealth: What do you want the dotHealth community to know about GIANT Health?
BARRY: Not only is GIANT (Global Innovation And New Technology) Europe’s largest international festival of healthcare tech innovation, it’s also a global community of over 175,000 health tech innovators from the largest healthcare corporations — big pharma, medtech hardware, and medtech software businesses — thousands of health tech startups, the investment community, and everyone in-between. Throughout the year, we profile these thought leaders in our weekly newsletter and produce additional content about the health tech ecosystem in Europe.
dotHealth: How is this event different from other healthcare conferences?
BARRY: Everywhere in the world, there are millions of healthcare events. Some are academic events, some are scientific events, and some are business events. However, in 2014, I found that there weren’t any events in Europe that were entirely about innovation in healthcare technology. For example, there is a large, well-established trade show that goes on in Dusseldorf, Germany every year called Medica. Thousands of businesses set up booths and showcase their technologies — but it’s just a trade show. There’s no discussion about the future of healthcare.
dotHealth: So, is GIANT similar to a health innovation conference like HIMSS here in the U.S.?
BARRY: Yep, it’s a little bit like that and the newer HLTH event that’s held in Las Vegas. But it’s also nothing like those events, it’s a festival in the Chelsea Football Stadium. The energy and experience is unlike any other health tech event I know of.
dotHealth: What are the must-dos and must-sees at this year’s GIANT Health event? What is your team most excited about?
BARRY: GIANT is going to be structured in a festival concept so we have multiple conference tracks going on simultaneously. We’ll have industry-focused conference tracks, and this year we’ll also have entire one-day conferences dedicated to leading healthcare technologies:
- The impact and opportunities of artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare
- The relationship and overlap between the telecoms industry and healthcare
- Immersive technologies – virtual reality and augmented reality, and their profound impact on healthcare
However, one of the most exciting things about GIANT is our BEANSTALKSTM competition. BEANSTALKS — which is a play on the word “giant” (Fee-fi-fo-fum!) — is our global health tech startup competition for prizes. Last year, 134 startups from around the world applied for this competition. This year we’re expecting more than double that.
BEANSTALKS brings together some incredibly exciting innovators from around the world competing for prizes, recognition, and access to potential investors and partners like IBM.
Competition finalists are invited to pitch their solutions live at the GIANT Health Event, and the winner is selected by a panel of judges.
Interested in applying? Visit Giant.health/Beanstalks.
dotHealth: What led to the creation of GIANT health, and what does the event/organization mean to you?
BARRY: As an international tech entrepreneur, I have designed, launched, and successfully scaled tech companies in the telecoms industry and the cleantech sector. After I sold my businesses, I took some time off and went to the States to help my mother look after my 91-year-old father. When you’re looking after a 91-year-old, you’re heavily engaged with the healthcare sector. And healthcare – it’s amazing, it’s noble, it’s about saving lives, and alleviating suffering. I absolutely loved it. It’s how my father was able to live a long, happy life, and to do so at home and without pain. After he passed away a year later, I came back to the UK and launched GIANT.
Our mission at GIANT is to improve the health and well-being of people around the world by promoting innovation in healthcare and supporting health tech entrepreneurs. That’s what we do, and that’s why we’re here.
dotHealth: We have a saying that “the future of health will be built on .health domain names.” How is GIANT.health shaping the future of healthcare?
BARRY: In every country around the world, there are healthcare challenges: aging populations, obesity, the rise of certain diseases (like type 2 diabetes), and the demand for healthcare services continues to grow. But, of course, we don’t have unlimited resources to meet these challenges. That’s why we’re in the business of accelerating health tech innovation, so the healthcare sector can deliver better health outcomes for less money. To do this, we’re bringing together healthcare innovators from around the world, and helping startups connect with global corporates and healthcare systems. Our vision is to be central in that ecosystem. That’s our role.
dotHealth: Do you have any success stories you’d like to share?
BARRY: At our 2016 GIANT Health Expo, global publishing company Pearsons, announced a new partnership with The Royal College of Surgeons of England to create immersive medical education content for the next generation of surgeons. Pearsons’ presence at GIANT led to another partnership with Leeds University in 2017: Peasons used its digital learning expertise to help create the school’s online MBA program.
(Winners of GIANT’s BEANSTALKS competition also go on to do some pretty amazing things. Read about last year’s winners here.)
dotHealth: Can you speak to the decision to rebrand to Giant Health and partner with us to offer .health domains to attendees?
BARRY: The exciting thing about the .health domain is that it’s helping health tech businesses communicate what they’re about in an elegant and efficient manner. That’s a good thing for the industry, and it’s aligned with our own goals as a business.
Not only are we simplifying our own web address, but we are excited to give that opportunity to all of our attendees. Anyone who buys a ticket to GIANT will have the opportunity to register their .health domain name – free of charge for one year – at the event, which will be held at Chelsea Football Club Stadium in London, October 15-16, 2019.