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The changing face of healthcare is altering traditional business models. People are put at the center when focus is shifted from acute to preventive care. This brings about new ways of thinking: people are empowered to take care of themselves based on information relevant to them as individuals.

It also means industry-driven demand for new services requiring novel approaches. The tendency is to favor ecosystems made up of relevant players working together. Combining strengths is a must for meeting growing competition and evolving customer demands.

In an ideal ecosystem, each player is like a piece of a large jigsaw puzzle, designed in the first place to fit together with the other pieces. The Life Science Growth Project is in search of innovative, nontraditional ecosystems with real market potential (read more here). One of the great examples we’ve discovered is a mobile platform ecosystem serving the insurance industry. We had the opportunity to meet with Jari Närhi, CFO of Wellmo, to hear more.

Wellmo is a facilitator that provides an interface platform where best of class service providers (over 100 of them) come together to form something bigger and better. As the matchmaker, it provides service packages to insurance companies, who in turn provide the service to the end user. The platform includes physical aspects of health, but also mental health, sleep, stress, nutrition, exercise and much more. Data produced from the platform is collected and analyzed, and the service is always being improved with the customer’s experience at the center.

The evolution of ecosystems has taken some time. 10 years ago, it was already clear that there was a need for bigger entities working together. Local players working on their own are too small to beat global competition.

The rise of ecosystems was slowed down in practice by the lack of incentive – real client cases to be solved. Now, for instance, insurance customers’ needs are evolving outside the traditionally offered services, and instead of building in-house solutions, insurance companies are seeking ecosystems to fill the void and build the needed service packages. Of course, big entities also need to be aggressive in their own innovation.

The key to success is an open ecosystem with non-exclusive cooperation. This means agreeing on a shared goal, even if it doesn’t line up with your own aim 100 percent, but close enough. The big players, especially the public sector, have to lean in to create space for testing and real life testbed development. Build a roadmap and follow it, identifying and removing roadblocks as you go.

Jari Nähri, Wellmo’s CFO


Finland is the size of a testbed and the web of trust, which is essential for testing new solutions, can be created quickly here. Building happens on a small scale and is expanded using best practices. Local customers are needed to test innovative solutions. Courage is required to try out the new. Permission and incentives must be built with the individual in mind.

The mobile platform ecosystem is still in its early stages, but the vision behind it is clear and there’s good reason to be optimistic. Through trial and error and by simply doing it, Wellmo has established an ecosystem model that is replicable and can be exported across industries and geographies. “The Life Science Growth Project and Eera’s facilitation have been a helpful boost for identifying the next steps,” says Jari Närhi.

Even the biggest Finnish companies are small in the global context; but together, an ecosystem becomes a formidable power. “You’re in a much better position to predict the future if you make the future,” says Närhi.

And the future is made together. In the end, to succeed we must innovate together to create something grand enough, large enough, to compete on the world stage. The time of ecosystems is here.