“Hair transplants can change patients’ lives. For many, balding can affect self-confidence and cause anxiety and depression. It can be a vicious circle – and even worse for women. But hair also has an anatomic function, protecting from UV rays and skin carcinoma,” says Paulo Ramos, CEO of Saude Viavel.
Saude Viavel (‘viable health’ in Portuguese) is a clinical group dedicated to the treatment of alopecia (hereditary baldness). The main business is transplants, but the group also deals with other therapies, develops and sells dermo-cosmetic products, while the research department looks at everything from stem cell research to robotics and medical devices.
The project started with a personal problem of Paulo’s, who was dealing with hair loss from a relatively young age. In the course of his investigations as a patient, he learned more about the topic and eventually decided to launch this new project in 2009. Surrounding himself with experts, Paulo brought in his economics and business background to set up shop in Lisbon. Today, the group has facilities also in Porto, Vilamoura and Madrid, while clients include both men and women (30%), from all over Europe but also the Middle East and Asia.
“The technique we use is used all over the world now,” says Carlos Portinha, Clinical Director, “But there are still differences in the way you do it, and of course the devices used. We develop our own devices – for example, recently we developed a new device to perform incisions because others weren’t so precise. These things can make the difference,” he explains. “We’re already developing robots, and we’re hopeful that soon, we will have robots performing the entire procedure from A to Z, opening up the potential for distance control and higher consistency and speed: Robotic arms can transplant at double the best speed man can achieve… We’re constantly innovating. It’s key in medicine but also in a company like ours, to be different and excel.”
As the company looks to expand and internationalise, it has a new partner in Vallis Capital Partners, a private equity firm backed by the EIF, who made an equity investment in the company in 2019. “We had already opened a clinic in Madrid, in collaboration with Cristiano Ronaldo, who invested in our organisation, and we’re now looking to open new clinics in Milan, Paris and Brussels soon. Our aim is to open two new clinics every year,” Paulo explains. “We will also soon be adopting a new name, Insparya, which is inspired by what we do and by Cristiano, who grew from a poor family into who he is now, taking small steps to improve, and giving patients better service every day.”
Company: Saude Viavel (Portugal)
Type of business: healthcare
Financial intermediary: Vallis Capital Partners
EIF financing: Portugal Growth