Meet Startup in Residence jury member
Drs. Emete Erarslan
Board member at Royaal Zorg and Clementia Zorgverleners.
I’m a doctor by profession and my specialisation is geriatric medicine in nursing homes. Until last year, I worked as a doctor in nursing homes, in the past also in psychiatrics.”
What is your personal experience with the developments of startups in the urban sector? How is innovation intertwined with your daily life?
“Over the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of innovation in the care sector.
Technology is developing so fast. That’s something I heartily welcome. And there’s scope for that now too.
Post crisis, many organisations are looking for a smarter way of working. And they are open to innovation. We are also involved in innovative projects. Superzorg is one example. We work with others who have done something innovative. And see what it does to people.”
Can you tell us more about the Superzorg project?
“Superzorg wanted to tackle the problem of loneliness. People often fall between two stools, we noticed. They simply didn’t know about care options or other initiatives. For example, you’d hear of cases where someone had been dead in a house for years without anyone noticing. That set many municipalities thinking: how can that happen in modern times? We then started considering the question: how do you get to meet people who are lonely? We didn’t want to force people into things. But we thought: if you’re shopping in the supermarket, you could keep an eye out. Sometimes you see signals and you want to help, but it doesn’t feel like the right moment. Someone at the supermarket checkout said that she felt that she ought to do something too. So she already had that social wish. We saw that the coffee vending machine already had a social function. ‘Could you put volunteers there to talk about facilities in the district or other things? Did you know this, why don’t you come for lunch one day?’ Then we developed the plan further. Forty parties around branches applied. An app developer, Pluhz, joined us. Volunteers could use their app and people can ask questions on it. That can be an administrative question, or about parenting or care. Within a couple of hours, a professional replies on that app. For example, with the question: ‘Can you send a photo?’ We can use these kinds of resources and innovations.”
How far developed is Superzorg now?
“The project has already started. There have already been over 200 interventions: and all those interventions have led to a conversation or a referral. That’s brilliant. It’s a very informal form of contact. That works better than the municipality sending letters to people’s homes or having people knocking at doors. That didn’t prove to be a good way of reaching those people.Royaal Zorg developed it. There’s been a lot of media attention for it. The project is being implemented at Albert Heijn. If it goes well, anyone will be able to use it, because it has social importance.”
What experience do you have with innovation? What makes innovations more or less successful?
“We have to get the same work done with less money. You can complain about that, but it sets you thinking. And that results in innovation.”
How do you stimulate innovation in an organisation?
As an organisation, we try to stimulate all our employees. The more highly skilled might have a different response. Some want more challenge.
We stimulate them and give give them a basis and create scope. Then you get people to come up with ideas. These might arise during a lunchtime chat, for example.
“Many employees are very committed. They often do voluntary work in the same sector outside work.”
What do you think about the Startup in Residence programme?
Now that the municipality has launched this initiative, I feel honoured to be part of it.
“You create a climate. You are accessible. Anyone can apply. You develop these people further. You make them professional. For social problems, accessibility is good. So general, anyone can contribute good ideas. Being open is very good for tackling problems.”
What do you look out for as a jury member?
For me, creativity is very important. The fact that it’s something you couldn’t come up with yourself. Simplicity appeals to me, and the fact that you don’t need instructions. It should be obvious and easy to implement.
“It must be a sustainable solution, though. Then it doesn’t matter whether it’s technology. But it must be well considered: how do you guarantee continuity? How do you ensure that it doesn’t collapse, that it survives? And I also feel it’s important to look out for signals from the user and that it’s further developed. It’s very important to look for signals and then improve something. It’s not a static process. It’s dynamic.”
Do you have any inspiring examples?
“Community care is a good example of self-managing teams. They give people space. So many new technologies have been developed. Sometimes more of the same. Domotics are becoming smarter. For example, a patient can stay at home because a sensor in the room makes the light go on. Or there’s a device which brings her glass to her mouth. Technology provides us with these devices which allow her to continue living at home. And that means we can offer care from a distance. Which is amazing. The latest development: a device with packets of drugs from the pharmacist. The device gives a signal when it’s time to take medication. If the medication isn’t taken, a signal goes off.”
Startups for care
“A possible follow up from SiR could be the question: how do you organise care more smartly? One condition here though would be that you must come from the care sector so you know how care works.”
What is your motivation to take part in this jury?
“I love being the first to see the ideas. We get to see the start phase. This idea might develop nationally or globally. And moving in this climate keeps me alert. In a new field. To continue thinking in terms of innovation. Also in the way of working. What are others watching out for? How do I look at things?”
What are you most interested in/do you hope to see/read?
“I don’t mind what kind of solutions people come up with as long as they meet a need and can be implemented. It should be realistic and feasible. And the user must be heard.”