It’s not just Elon Musk biohacking the brain — European entrepreneurs are using technology from virtual reality headsets to pillow-cooling engines to reinvent how people take care of their health.

Startups in the health sector, including biotech, raised about €7bn in 2019, according to Dealroom data.

Here are seven stories from Sifted: some of our best of the past year about health (and sleep, and sex, and pet…) tech.

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1. European entrepreneurs are (also) biohacking the brain

Investors are pouring money into “punk” biohacking startups. A new wave of European founders are raising millions of dollars to hack the brain.

2. Startups push into VR healthcare despite industry gloom

A couple of years ago, virtual reality promised to revolutionise not only the world of videogames, but the world of healthcare as well. The VR healthcare industry hasn’t quite lived up to the hype – yet.

3. Europe’s doctor apps, compared

Babylon Health has the most money and users, but it’s Sweden’s Kry that now has the most app downloads. Sifted dives into Europe’s doctor app startups.

4. Sperm-tech startups tackling the male infertility crisis

Awareness of male fertility as an issue is growing. Europeans such as Legacy and ExSeed have raised millions in venture capital money offering sperm-freezing and testing services, while others look at ways to improve fertility.

5. Britain’s $1bn robot surgeon startup is taking on “unloved” medtech

CMR Surgical’s Martin Frost is rolling out robot surgeons into hundreds of hospitals. Versius, the startup’s four-armed robotic surgeon, is designed to allow complex operations to be completed with just a few tiny incisions rather than one big one.

6. Keeping your pillow cold and other sleep tech

Europe’s startups are tackling the $40bn sleep industry. So far, they’re competing on often contradictory claims, and hoping to hit gold.

7. Digital health startup turns to pets to boost profits

Digital health providers all across Europe are creating a lot of buzz, but they have one problem — they are not making money. That is why some are stepping into what they hope is the more lucrative world of pets.

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