This Icelandic startup offers gamified digital therapeutics to combat lifestyle-related illnesses; raises €17M


The healthcare industry is still reeling under the massive blow dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic. One subset of the healthcare sector that has witnessed increased adoption in many countries during the lockdown. The reason behind its increased adoption seems to be that it helps people in ways that are cost-effective and compliant with social-distancing guidelines. 

Besides, shareholders, providers, payers, regulators, and investors, almost everyone have signaled their support for these products. According to a report, the global digital therapeutics market is projected to reach $ 6.9B (approx €5.87B) by 2025 from $ 2.1B (approx €1.78B) in 2020, at a CAGR of 26.7% during the forecast period (2020–2025).

Digital therapeutics startup raises €17M

In a recent development, an Iceland-based health-tech startup Sidekick Health has raised $ 20M (approx €17.02M) in its Series A round of funding led by Wellington Partners and Asabys Partners, through its fund SAHII. Existing investors Novator and Frumtak Ventures also participated in this round.

The raised capital will be used for development and validation into new therapeutic areas, to accelerate product development to increase its lead in patient engagement and retention, and to further position itself as the preferred provider to expand pharmacotherapies, thus improving health outcomes.

Dr. Regina Hodits, managing partner at Wellington, and Josep LI. Sanfeliu, managing partner and co-founder of Asabys, will join the board of directors of Sidekick Health, on behalf of the new investors.

About Sidekick Health

Sidekick specialises in the creation of gamified digital therapeutic solutions and programs for chronic and lifestyle disease management across multiple therapeutic areas, ranging from diabetes to ulcerative colitis and smoking cessation

It was founded in 2014 by two medical doctors, Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson and Dr. Saemundur Oddsson. According to the company, the duo had worked for years treating patients with lifestyle-related illnesses.

Sidekick claims that a staggering 68% of all deaths are due to lifestyle-related illnesses and the two co-founders, frustrated with dealing with the consequences, realised that a new approach was needed to prevent and manage chronic illnesses.

Its platform combines an evidence-based clinical approach with behavioral economics and gamification to help global customers expand therapy reach. It claims that people’s lifestyle decisions are driven more by emotion than by logic, as per behavioural research. That’s why the company employs concepts from behavioral economics to engage the emotional part of the brain and trigger positive health behaviors.

Together with pharmaceutical companies and other organisations, Sidekick Health designs personalised lifestyle change programs that improve health outcomes and treatment adherence; connect clinical experts and patient communities; as well as deliver data insights into some of the world’s most pressing health challenges.

Its platform is CE-marked as a Class I Medical Device and is scalable to over 40 distinct chronic diseases, 13 of which are live in 2020.  

Post COVID-19 affect

“The healthcare landscape has shifted significantly this year as a direct result of COVID-19,

accelerating the adoption and demand for digital health solutions. We have grown our customer base sharply in recent months, adding new partnerships with global pharmaceutical firms and leading US-based healthcare organisations,” says Sidekick CEO and co-founder Dr. Tryggvi Thorgeirsson.

According to the company, Sidekick’s platform has adopted to remotely triage and support people in home isolation, diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition to supporting COVID-19 patients, the remote patient monitoring solution of the wider Sidekick platform is now being used in Europe and the US, to support patients with other conditions.

Sidekick Health’s solution is available to patients in Sweden, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria.

Image credit: Sidekick Health

Startups – Silicon Canals

Coderise acquires Amsterdam-based Bomberbot to together impart digital skills to children worldwide


Providing quality and intensive education for children from the poor and backward community can increase their chances of ending the poverty cycle. In this age of digitalisation, computational thinking and digital literacy are highly sought-after skills. Cristian Bello understood the importance of imparting digital skills to underprivileged kids, to prepare them for the future. He, therefore, started a social enterprise called Bomberbot in 2014 with a mission to bring digital skills to girls and boys around the globe

Aims to help digital skills

Based out of Amsterdam, Bomberbot brings digital skills to children in the Netherlands through a range of both school programs and after school activities. It enables teachers to teach programming at primary/middle schools as children practice the concepts by playing games and solving puzzles. Notably, the Dutch startup provides teachers – with nor prior programming experience – with all the tools to be able to teach programming in middle/elementary schools.

Coderise acquired Bomberbot

Recently, Coderise, an online platform that teaches coding to young students in developing countries, announced the acquisition of Bomberbot for an undisclosed amount. In an exclusive conversation with Silicon Canals, Cristian Bello, founder, Bomberbot, says, “It’s a large step for Bomberbot as it will help us expand to the American market. Andres Barreto (Coderise’s founder) is an experienced entrepreneur with a large network in the US and believes his skills and network will be valuable for the next steps of the company.” Barreto is also the managing director of Techstars Boulder Accelerator, as well as one of Bomberbot’s earliest investors.

Expansion plans

With this acquisition, both Bomberbot and Coderise will offer a new program in the USA that aims to teach middle school students digital skills through an extracurricular computer science and media literacy program. Talking about operations, Bello clarifies, “Bomberbot will continue to work independently but with the support and experience of Coderise. Both teams will be working together to successfully achieve the expansion of the American market.” 

Focus on school programs and after school activities

Founded in 2014 in the Netherlands by Bello, Bomberbot will continue to focus on teaching digital skills to children in the Netherlands through an extensive range of both school programs and after school activities. “Bomberbot will definitely continue having a focus on the Netherlands. This is the market where we started, and that has brought great results to Bomberbot. One of our goals is to continue making an impact in the Netherlands as we expand to the US,” he adds. 

Transparency is the key

At the moment of the sale, Bello claims that Bomberbot had 10 FTEs and about 20 freelancers. Acquisitions can be quite a stressful affair for employees, due to the uncertainty involved. Talking about the steps he took to allay the fear and anxiety of his team, Bello states, “As soon as an acquisition process begins it does create quite some stress on people. We took two key steps to help this process be less stressful. Firstly, we were transparent with the team about the whole process. We’d be informing them about the process, the negotiations, and what the sale would mean for them.”

“Secondly, one of our requirements to Coderise was that they would keep the whole team employed. Bomberbot achieved great results due to a high-quality and passionate team and it was very important for us that they would continue with Bomberbot after the sale,” he adds. 

Programs should be both fun and educational

According to the company, in the Netherlands, more than 175.000 kids have already learned digital skills with Bomberbot. 

Talking about his future plans, Bello tells us,” Nothing in mind yet. Bomberbot was an amazing experience and I’m very proud of the impact we made. I’ll remain an advisor to Bomberbot but first, I’m going to take some time to reflect and then, perhaps start a new venture again.”


Coderise was founded in Florida in 2012 by Andres Barreto to solve a problem he observed while being a Colombian immigrant entrepreneur in the USA – the lack of access to digital education. 

Coderise offers programming bootcamps for teenagers in Latin America. It later expanded to offer alternative college education for adults by joining forces with Holberton School from Silicon Valley. It is now expanding its presence to the USA and Europe with the acquisition of Studio Krok BV, the founding company of Bomberbot.

“Bomberbot and Coderise share the belief that digital skills and basic programming knowledge are crucial in today’s digitised society. Together we can expand our reach and impact to teach coming generations the digital skills they require to become successful citizens,” says Barreto.

Main image credits: Bomberbot

Startups – Silicon Canals

Taxation for an App that offers digital content. How to implement taxation?

I’m currently developing an App that offers digital content for purchase. I’m planing to use Stripe as a Payment Service but unfortunate Stripe doesn’t offer any help when it comes to taxes. I currently have a few questions:

  1. As a Startup that operates in the EU but offers purchasable content not only in the eu, do I need to care for taxation besides the VAT?
  2. Where do I find help on how to implement taxation? For example how do I determine where the customer is from to apply the correct VAT rate?

Usually the web is full of information when it comes to building similar products but as I experienced, when it comes to taxation, it’s hard to find good information about it. Everyone that uses Stripe must have the same problems as I do, why is it so hard to learn about the technical side of this stuff?

Have you ever build a ecommerce website/app and had to handle the taxes your self? How did you handle it?

Any help and resources about this is appreciated!

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