As part of an initiative called ‘Digital Health Valley’, the Belgian Government allocated €3.25 million for piloting various digital health apps.
The Belgian Government allocated €3.25 million for piloting various digital health apps. Proposals were invited from anyone working the Belgian health sector who wants to use a mobile application (whether on a smartphone, tablet or smartwatch) in their role. Apps must meet certain minimum privacy and security requirements, but otherwise do not need regulatory approval.
The allocated funds will be spent not only on funding the chosen projects, but also in reimbursing healthcare providers who are willing to share their data with app developers. In the first phase, 97 applications were submitted; approved projects are due to commence in 2017 for a duration of six months each.
In February 2018, The Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, Maggie De Block, unveiled a plan to establish a regulatory framework and specific funding for medical apps. Together with the Minister responsible for the Digital Agenda and Telecommunications, Ms. De Block also announced a plan to create an ecosystem for companies active in digital health care under the moniker “Digital Health Valley”. This initiative already served as a platform for the creation of HealthTech.Belgium, a collaborative effort of various players belonging to the healthcare sector.
Alexander De Croo, Minister responsible for the Digital Agenda and Telecommunications.
About Regulatory Sandboxes and Testbeds:
Highly-regulated industries can be an especially challenging environment for startups. Complex regulations often favor incumbent firms who have more experience and legal resources. Testing prototypes in a ‘live’ environment can be particularly difficult. To help with this, some regulators have established ‘sandboxes’ where companies in the initial stages of development can experiment without the normal regulatory requirements in place. Typically, these do not absolve companies from all responsibility: as a matter of policy, they should not transfer risk to consumers nor remove individuals’ private right to redress if companies are grossly negligent or fraudulent.
Read more about this type of policy instrument in Nesta's "Digital Entrepreneurship: An ‘Idea Bank’ for Local Policymakers."