Verhaert Masters in Innovation and SpaceTec Partners are pleased to announce that they will jointly implement a €1.2 million contract to support space research and innovation by organising hackathons and offering mentoring to start-ups.
European space hackathons & mentoring
The contract has a potential value of up to €3.6 million and will implement the European Space Hackathons & Mentoring programme on behalf of the European Commission. It includes a series of 2 hackathons in 2021 and another 4 hackathons in the following 2 years upon renewal of the contract. It is a first step within the Competitive Space Start-ups for Innovation (CASSINI) initiative of the European Commission to grow the number of start-ups that successfully commercialise innovative European space technologies.
Each hackathon runs simultaneously at up to 10 locations. For the organisation of the hackathons and mentoring, Verhaert and SpaceTec Partners count on the support of local organisers, for whom this is a great opportunity to enter the fascinating market of space-based innovation and entrepreneurship.
Boost chances to succeed & accelerate growth
The CASSINI initiative will boost the opportunities for space start-ups to succeed thanks to technical and business support. On the other hand, it will accelerate their growth and scale-up by attracting more private investors. CASSINI streamlines existing initiatives and contemplates new ones to support innovation and start-ups. As part of the European Strategy for SMEs it will create a coherent, long term, structured, focused and scalable public support mechanism.
Foster the commercialisation of European space technologies
Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the European space community, is a topic close to the hearts of Verhaert Masters in Innovation and SpaceTec Partners. Thomas Tanghe, Partner at SpaceTec Partners: “The new CASSINI hackathons will build on the legacy of innovation programmes our companies jointly implemented for space such as the Copernicus Accelerator and Point.IoT. Together, we are looking forward to continuing our efforts toward fostering awareness and user uptake for the components of the European Space Programme: Copernicus, Galileo, EGNOS, GOVSATCOM and Space Situational Awareness (SSA).”
Sam Waes, Program Manager for the OpenLab at Verhaert Masters in Innovation, adds: “We want to integrate the CASSINI hackathons in a relevant space ecosystem. Thanks to our well-developed methodology and innovative approach, we are experienced in reaching audiences in- and outside the space community, covering multiple professional fields with a very broad geographic coverage in Europe. During the hackathons, we want to encourage human interactions and give start-ups access to a wide pool of mentors.”
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About SpaceTec Partners SpaceTec Partners is a unique boutique consultancy as its team combines years of consulting craftsmanship with in-depth expertise of the space industry. SpaceTec Partners assists its clients with management consulting, market development and innovation advisory, as specialists in the space industry. www.spacetec.partners
About Verhaert Masters in Innovation Since 1969 Verhaert Masters in Innovation is a pioneer in the field of product innovation. As a leading innovation group in integral product development, Verhaert helps companies and entrepreneurs to develop and execute successful innovation projects. The group now has more than 200 employees with offices in Kruibeke, Gentbrugge, Kortrijk, Nivelles, Noordwijk, Utrecht and Aveiro. www.verhaert.com
At the start of December 2020, Flemish newspaper De Standaard included a special look at innovation in the region.
As part of the campaign, DSP Valley spoke with Media Planet about the importance of networking to digital innovation. CEO Dieter Therssen explained DSP Valley’s philosophy and the benefits networking brings.
“Innovation is never the work of a single company, but often arises from a combination of existing data or products. That implies that you need several companies to realize innovative developments. A good network is one of the key factors for successful innovation.”
At DSP Valley, we work toward business development in a collaborative spirit, leveraging networks to benefit entire markets and ecosystems. As Dieter put it, “Our biggest challenge is the translation of the technology to the industry. DSP Valley tries to play a role in this. Several things are needed: you need technology, you need people with the talent to convert that technology, you need money, but you also need a network to bring companies together around good ideas.”
DSP member Verhaert Masters in Innovation has received a research grant from VLAIO to develop state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI-)driven robot technology.
In the research project, Verhaert will develop a robotic platform for spinal surgery which uses algorithms developed by Deep Learning (AI). The developed algorithms will transform high resolution preoperative 3D images, like CT scans and MRIs, to high resolution images of the patient in his or her new physical laying position during surgery. The novel part of the proposed procedure is the significant reduction of the use of cancerogenous ionizing x-ray beams during surgery, like CT-scans, while still being able to perform sub-millimeter surgery and catheter tracking.
3-step surgical procedure Defining the concept The physical laying position of the patient changes before, at the start and during surgery, which has an impact on the physical position and form of the spinal cord. All these changes in position need to be taken into account in order to perform sub-mm surgery.
Before: the patient is laying on her back for high resolution CT/MRI scans.
At the start: the patient is laying on her stomach.
During: the patient is laying on her stomach and slightly moves because of breathing, heartbeat and the impact of the surgery itself.
A high resolution sub millimeter 3D image is taken from the patient several days before surgery. This is done either by a CT-scan or MRI. Typically, the scan is taken while the patient is laying on his/her back. Based on the image the surgery is planned and a trajectory is calculated in order to reach the desired location in the spinal cord.
At the start of surgery At this stage the patient will be laying on his/her stomach. Markers are placed on the patient which are detected by a set of Infra-Red cameras in order to create a 3D model of the patients’ physical position on the operating table. In this new position, a low dose low resolution (supra-millimeter) 2D image is take of the patients’ spine. The 2D image is taken with a C-arm 2D fluoroscopic scanner.
The 2D image and the external marker localizations are used to transform the high resolution pre-surgery 3D image into a newly reconstructed high resolution 3D image of the spine in its new position and form. At this point, the surgeon and its team has a 3D image of the patients’ anatomy in combination with an external reference frame.
In the Netherlands, 300 to 400 people are infected per year with the legionella bacteria (Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever), a number that is rising each year. Victims of the bacteria suffer for a long period, from several months up to more than a year. Between 5 and 10% of cases are lethal.
Legionella infections mostly occur through people breathing in legionella-contaminated aerosols. Aerosols are small droplets of water that are generated, for example, when showering. For this reason, public showers like the ones in sports centres, swimming halls, and saunas, as well as truck stops and camp sites, need to be flushed regularly to prevent legionella growing in the water pipes. The required flushing is often done manually or semi-automated, which is very time consuming, prone to human errors, and labor intensive. Especially when one takes into account the legal obligations to report data like date, time, water temperature, and flush duration per shower.
The risk of legionella contamination has increased in the current Covid-19 crisis with the (temporary) closure of facilities. Showers are not used by clients and facility engineers who have to stay home and are not allowed to come to their facilities for the requisite flushing.
Sfella is the Smart Flush solution by Mioto* that addresses all of the above issues. Sfella is a user-friendly, reliable and easy-to-install solution for legionella prevention. The system is modular, for use within environments with multiple showers. It assures flushing the shower(s) happens after an operator-defined time period. The system reports the important flush data like date, time, duration, and water temperature. This reporting and control of the showers happens locally or remote via a dedicated gateway.
Sfella is powered by the mesh network MyriaNed. It is an infrastructure of nodes that connect directly, dynamically, and non-hierarchically. This allows easy configuration and scalability. Data transfer to and from the shower units (represented by a node) is wireless and bi-directional. Therefore, settings can be changed remotely, while the report with flush-related data can be received remotely in your email inbox. MyriaNed can be configured to use either 868MHz or 2.4GHz. This allows for the optimal fit in each local environment in terms of coverage and energy usage.
In February 2020, just before the first Covid-19 wave struck the Netherlands, van Mierlo Ingenieursbureau B.V. started a pilot program with Sfella on 15 showers in a care institute. The unforeseen Covid-19 crisis forced the care institute to close its sports facilities for several months, a perfect period to test the installed Sfella system. It appears the automatic flushing happened every 72 hours as programmed. Once the facilities opened again in early summer, final confirmation arrived: examinations of the water samples taken showed no legionella contamination in the related water pipes. This offered the most convincing evidence that Sfella delivered.
van Mierlo Ingenieursbureau is now to actively approaching the Dutch market and discussing with sales and distribution partners, as well as technology partners, to broaden the Sfella roadmap. If you are interested in partnering for sales and distribution, including outside the Netherlands, please contact us.
CellSine is a revolutionary new technology for early stage drug testing. It could easily mean medications brought to patients faster and with less testing on animals. A win-win!
The technology behind CellSine, based on electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), was developed as part of a doctoral research project at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and the University of Brussels (VUB), resulting in a proof of concept. As anyone who’s brought a concept to market knows, though, this is but a step in a much longer process.
That’s where Comate came in. As they put it themselves, “CellSine relied on the expertise of Comate’s engineers and designers for the technical development, to translate the PoC into a market-ready product.”
Thanks to Comate’s expertise in taking a proof of concept to market, CellSine has launched a truly innovative device. Their ambitions run high, including integrating AI to their data analysis and boosting personalized medicine.
ASCENT+ mobilises an unprecedented network of knowledge and investment to open access to key European infrastructures and enable academic and industry researchers to address emerging challenges in Nanoelectronics and to accelerate innovation path-finding.
Building on previous success, and with an additional EU investment of €10m, ASCENT+ brings together 15 partners to make world-class facilities available and to foster the Nanoelectronics community. ASCENT+ offers an extensive portfolio to access state-of-the-art processing, modelling and data sets, metrology and characterisation, and devices and test structures for Nanoelectronics. As such, it significantly advances the first phase of the open access programme (ASCENT https://www.ascent.network/) which delivered 100 access projects to researchers from 30 countries across the global research community over the last four years and built a community of over 400 researchers.
ASCENT+ integrates a unique research infrastructure with outstanding credentials. The partners’ facilities at CEA-Leti (FR), Fraunhofer Mikroelekronik (DE), imec (BE), INL (PT/ES) and Tyndall (IE) combine research infrastructure and expertise representing over €2.5 billion of investment and several millennia of accumulated knowledge.
ASCENT+ also includes CNRS (FR), Universiteit Gent (BE), TU Bergakademie Freiberg (DE), JKU (AT) and the University of Padova (IT) as academic partners to advance the project’s offering and further stimulate the user community to bridge the gap between scientific exploration and development of proof-of-concept technologies. This will fast-track the development of next generation information processing devices.
ASCENT+ will grow a first-class research and innovation network through the participation of Silicon Europe Alliance members: DSP Valley (BE), MIDAS (IE), Minalogic (FR) and Silicon Saxony (DE) as well as the SiNANO Institute (FR), reaching out to over 3,700 members.
Giorgos Fagas, ASCENT+ lead and Head of EU Programmes at Tyndall National Institute said “The next era in Nanoelectronics is driven by demonstrations of: (i) quantum advantage using solid-state platforms; (ii) low-power, energy-efficient, high-performance computing based on disruptive devices; and (iii) increased functionality through advanced integration of a diverse range of materials and innovative technologies. ASCENT+ offers an unparalleled access opportunity to users, empowering them to respond to these new problems and to advance knowledge and technology through generating novel results and nurturing talent in their own labs.”
ASCENT+ presents a unique opportunity for Europe to regain global leadership in Nanoelectronics at a pivotal time as the horizon broadens beyond Moore’s law. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 871130.
About the ASCENT+ Partners
Tyndall National Institute is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT hardware and systems. Central to Tyndall’s mission is delivering economic impact through research excellence. We work with industry and academia to transform research into products in our core market areas of communications, agri-tech, energy, environment and health.
Tyndall is home to a high-tech national research infrastructure unique in Ireland and is key to the national economy. Tyndall uses its facilities and expertise to support industry and academia globally and provides large numbers of highly qualified graduate students. Our researchers have won numerous awards for their ground-breaking research on new materials, devices and systems across micro/nanoelectronics and photonics, including in the areas of ICT for Health, smart farming, wearables and the industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
We are also a lead partner in European research programmes. In H2020, we deliver value to European research in 99 projects so far (16 as coordinator).
Imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.
As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from almost 100 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, and offices in China, India and Japan. In 2019, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 640 million euro.
Leti, a technology research institute at CEA, is a global leader in miniaturization technologies enabling smart, energy-efficient and secure solutions for industry. Founded in 1967, CEA-Leti pioneers micro-& nanotechnologies, tailoring differentiating applicative solutions for global companies, SMEs and startups. CEA-Leti tackles critical challenges in healthcare, energy and digital migration. From sensors to data processing and computing solutions, CEA-Leti’s multidisciplinary teams deliver solid expertise, leveraging world-class pre-industrialization facilities. With a staff of more than 1,900, a portfolio of 3,100 patents, 10,000 sq. meters of cleanroom space and a clear IP policy, the institute is based in Grenoble, France, and has offices in Silicon Valley and Tokyo. CEA-Leti has launched 65 startups and is a member of the Carnot Institutes network.
Follow us on www.leti-cea.com
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, headquartered in Germany, is the world’s leading applied research organization. Fraunhofer develops key technologies that are vital for the future and enables the commercial exploitation of this work by business and industry, thus playing a central role in the innovation process. Today, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft operates over 74 institutes and research institutions with 28,000 employees. Current annual research budget amounts to €2.8 billion. Thereof, €2.3 billion are generated through contract research, including roughly €95 million funded by the European Commission. The Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics consists of 11 institutes with a combined staff of over 3600 and an annual operational budget of over €500 million. The technology spectrum ranges from 300mm CMOS technologies to hetero-integrated smart devices and novel end user applications. Together with 2 additional institutes of the Leibniz association these institutes are the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany, FMD, the backbone of research and development in microelectronics in Germany.
More information on: www.mikroelektronik.fraunhofer.de
The International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), is the first and, so far, the only, international research organization in Europe in the field of nanotechnology. INL had been established in 2005 by a joint decision of the Governments of Portugal and Spain, with the mission to perform cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and development in nanoscience and nanotechnology and to function as an innovation integrator in multiple application domains.
Operating since late 2010, following an investment of 100 M€, INL is on the Portuguese Road Map of Research Infrastructures. INL is currently financed by member-state contributions, competitive funds from national and international calls, and fees from users and industry. The research and development environment at INL includes a state-of-the-art cleanroom for nanofabrication and comprehensive facilities for testing and nanocharacterization of devices and materials. At the beginning of 2020, there were 368 people of over 40 nationalities working at INL, 312 of them researchers.
More information on: https://inl.int
The SiNANO Institute is the European Academic and Scientific Association for Nanoelectronics, gathering 22 reknown Universities and Research Centers from 13 European countries. Sinano carries out a role of representation and coordination of the associated Organizations in order to strengthen the impact of the research activities at EU level in this very important field for many future applications and markets.
Members of the Institute are particularly exploring disruptive science and technology aspects for long term to identify the most promising topics for future ICT and speed up technological innovation. Activities from More Moore, More than Moore, Beyond CMOS to Smart Systems and System Design are sound competences of Sinano.
We are also organizing international Workshops and Conferences to develop high competence levels in Europe, and participating in roadmap definition. In this respect, the Sinano Institute is the European representative of IRDS. Sinano plays an important role in European structuring and programs, in collaboration with Research Institutes and Industry, and strengthens the overall efficiency of the European research in Nanoelectronics.
More information on: www.sinano.eu
MIDAS Ireland is an industry led cluster consisting of over 60 member organisation from industry, educational, research and government agencies, working together to assist in the development of the electronics based systems sector in Ireland. MIDAS began in 1999 as the Microelectronics Industry Design Association with a focus mainly on the design of advanced integrated circuits. Today MIDAS Ireland represents the entire value chain, as the industry evolves to deliver more complete electronic and software system solutions with €13.5bn export revenue and €325m in annual R&D spend. MIDAS Ireland is the key enabler of networking and collaborative opportunities within our industry and represents the needs of the sector to government. It supports the upskilling of graduate and professional engineers to meet the ever changing needs of this ‘deep tech’ sector.
More information on: www.MidasIreland.ie
DSP Valley is the organization for companies creating, applying, and adapting to electronic solutions and digital technologies in the Low Countries. As a cluster organization, our mission is to Breed Digital Business through Collaborative Business Development. We do this for our members through local, regional, and international networks focused on 5 major areas: Smart City, Smart Health, Smart Mobility, Industry 4.0, Digital Technologies. DSP Valley takes part in European projects such as ASCENT+ as a further broadening of these activities, bringing expertise and a strong network to consortia.
Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, DSP Valley also has offices in Eindhoven (NL), Antwerp (BE), and Hasselt (BE).
More information at: https://breedingdigitalbusiness.com
Minalogic is a global innovation cluster for digital technologies serving France’s Auvergne-RhôneAlpes region. The cluster supports leading innovators by facilitating networking, fostering collaborative R&D, and providing companies with personalized assistance throughout all phases of business growth. The products and services developed by our members address most industries including ICT, healthcare, energy, advanced manufacturing and mobility.
Minalogic has 400 members, including academic laboratories, RTOs and 320 companies, among which 75% are SMEs. Our members develop and/or integrate components, materials, services and solutions based on innovative microelectronics, photonics and software.
The cluster has certified more than 450 projects that have secured total government funding of €838 million of the more than €2 billion in total R&D spending these projects represent. This resulted in 56 products and generated €3,6 billion in revenue. Minalogic is a proud member of Silicon Europe and was awarded with Gold Label for Cluster Excellence for the 2nd time in 2016.
More information on: www.minalogic.com/en
With more than 350 members, Silicon Saxony e. V. is the largest high-tech network in Saxony and one of the largest microelectronics and IT clusters in Germany and Europe. Since its foundation in 2000, Silicon Saxony has been a self-financed association linking manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, universities, research institutes, public institutions as well as industry-relevant start-ups in Saxony and beyond.
The cluster’s focus is on technological trends of the present and future – e.g. artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, internet of things, sensors, energy efficiency as well as neuromorphic and edge computing. As a high-profile information, communication and cooperation platform, the association promotes the regional, national and international networking of its members by participating in and organizing industry events and projects.
Moreover, Silicon Saxony is one of the founding partners of Silicon Europe – an alliance of twelve European clusters for advanced electronics and software technologies. Since 2012, the network bears the GOLD label for excellent cluster management by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI).
More information on: www.silicon-saxony.de/en/home
With about 18,000 students and over 2,500 faculty and staff members, the Johannes Kepler University of Linz (JKU) is one of the main universities in Austria. The Semiconductor Physics Division of the JKU, headed by Prof. Armando Rastelli (the JKU PI within ASCENT+), counts 5 permanent staff members, 5 engineers/technicians and about 30 Post Docs/PhD students. The group has a longlasting tradition in the field of epitaxial growth, structural and optical characterization of semiconductor quantum dots and operates a modern cleanroom equipped with instruments for epitaxial growth, lithography, metal and dielectric deposition, etching and bonding. Particularly relevant to this project is the experience on the development of strain-tunable sources of quantum light for applications in emerging quantum technologies.
More information on: www.jku.at/en
Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major universities in Belgium, founded in 1817. Ghent University wants to be a creative community of staff, students and alumni, connected by the values the university upholds: engagement, openness and pluralism. Our motto is ‘Dare to Think’: we encourage students and staff members to adopt a critical approach.
Our 11 faculties offer more than 200 courses and conduct in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains. Ghent University has about 9 000 staff members and over 45 000 students, of which about 12% are international. Ghent University also has a Global Campus in Songdo, SouthKorea, as an important Asian hub for bio industry and life sciences.
Ghent University has very strong research activities including 66 ERC projects (June 2019), over 3 000 publications annually, 618 patents and 69 spin-offs in the last decade, and 22 business development centers which enable intensive collaboration with industry.
More information on: www.ugent.be/en
CNRS/IMEP, Institute of Microelectronics, Electromagnetism and Photonics, with staff of 110 persons (60 permanents, 50 PhDs) belongs to the top French micro and nanotechnology research academic laboratories, particularly for micro- and nanoelectronics, microphotonics, microsystems and microwaves. CNRS/IMEP is focusing on CMOS and post-CMOS nanoelectronics, as well as new materials and smart devices such as i) advanced CMOS components on bulk silicon, SOI, SiGe and strained Si, ii) NW and nanometric quantum devices, iii) advanced device electrical characterization and simulation techniques. CNRS/IMEP has been very much involved in many FP6, FP7, and H2020 European projects during the last 15 years as coordinator and participant. CNRS/IMEP is collaborating with major technological centers in Europe as well as with main semiconductor industries (ST, SOITEC, GF…). CNRS/IMEP has a 30-year track record in the field of advanced characterization and modelling of semiconductor devices, especially on CMOS and emerging technologies.
More information on: https://imep-lahc.grenoble-inp.fr
The TU Bergakademie Freiberg, as a resource university, focuses its research and teaching on how to deal responsibly with the finite resources of this earth. To this end, the six faculties develop efficient and alternative technologies for raw material extraction, energy technologies, materials and recycling processes and contribute significantly to solving economic and ecological challenges. With the engineering, natural, geo, material and economic sciences, the university combines all areas of modern raw materials research in the basic area and application-oriented research. About 4,000 students receive a scientifically sound and practice-oriented education in 72 courses of study. The TU Bergakademie Freiberg has a long history in semiconductor material research. In collaboration with local and international industrial partners and research institutes, the Institute of Applied Physics at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg accompanies the development process from the synthesis and characterization of the semiconductor material towards nanoelectronic devices.
More information on: https://tu-freiberg.de/en
Dating back to 1222, the University of Padova is one of the leading Universities in Italy, with its 32 departments, 40 doctoral degree courses and 44 interdisciplinary research and service centres, covering an exceptionally broad research scope. Unipd currently participates in 134 Horizon 2020 actions (45 as a coordinator) for a total budget of 54 Million Euro.
Within the University, the centuries-old tradition initiated with Copernicus and Galileo continues today at the Department of Physics and Astronomy “G. Galilei”, one of the most important research centres for physics and astronomy in Italy, with involvement in research projects at the highest international competitiveness in many fields of fundamental and applied Physics, including Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Matter Physics, with state of the art infrastructures and important role or access to large scale international laboratories, and an excellent track record in Semiconductor Physics for micro/nanoelectronics and photonics.
DSP Valley active in Flexible Electronics and Healthcare
Healthcare is a major market for both established and emerging technologies. Flexible Electronics is a growing field gaining more and more momentum. Flexible electronics in healthcare is a combination with a bright future.
As our Newsletter readers and members will know, DSP Valley is currently active in three Flexible (and Wearable) Electronics projects: Flexlines (focused on creating a one-stop-shop for flexible electronics), SmartX (specifically geared towards flexible electronics in textiles), and SmartEEs (aimed at helping innovative companies digitize). This is by design: flexible (and wearable) electronics have high potential. This is in part because of their many possible applications.
One of DSP Valley’s core programs in Smart Health. We’re co-founders of the IBN flanders.health. This year, we’ve worked hard alongside our partners Flanders.bio and MedTech Flanders in getting a Spearhead Cluster for Health Tech off the ground in Flanders.
Collaborative Digital Business Breeding
Our work in the health technology and flexible electronics sectors is essential to our central mission: breeding digital business through collaborative business development. The European Flexible and Wearable Electronics projects and the flanders.health IBN and coming Spearhead Cluster are concrete examples of creating collaborative business opportunities. These go beyond single company, or even single application, vision and seek to build and support strong ecosystems that will be economically sustainable.
This is why we were delighted to read IDTechEx’s analysis. The abstract of their report “Flexible Electronics in Healthcare 2020-2030” confirms DSP Valley’s perceptions. It reinforces our resolve to continue to work hard to bring Flexible Electronics and Health Tech together, in our region and beyond.
Click here to read the summary sent to us by IDTechEx. Please note that we have nothing to do with their research. This is neither an endorsement nor a promotion.
Join us to find out more
Want to find out more about our Flexible (and Wearable) Electronics projects? Check out the upcoming FREE events – click the titles for more information and to register:
Flexible Electronics WebinarFlexlines unites different players providing access to new Flexible Electronics technologies through one-stop-shop concepts in order to accelerate the design, development, and uptake of advanced applications in Flexible & Wearable Electronics.
SmartEEs information Session with TNOThe SmartEEs Project is funded by Horizon 2020 and is aimed at supporting SMEs and Mid-caps in integrating flexible and wearable electronics into novel (series of) products.
In this webinar, Corne Rentrop (TNO) and Dieter Therssen (DSP Valley) will explain all about the project and what the benefits are for companies and service providers thinking about applying.
SmartEEs Information Session with imecThe SmartEEs Project is funded by Horizon 2020 and is aimed at supporting SMEs and Mid-caps in integrating flexible and wearable electronics into novel (series of) products.
In this webinar, Dieter Therssen (DSP Valley), Maarten Cauwe (imec), and Frederick Bossuyt (imec) will explain all about the project and what the benefits are for companies and service providers thinking about applying.
IDTechEx sent this report summary to DSP Valley. You can read more about DSP Valley’s activities regarding Flexible Electronics and Smart Healthcare here.
NB: We are sharing this summary as a service to our readers and members. We are in no way affiliated with IDTechEx.
IDTechEx Report Summary
“The market size for flexible electronics in healthcare will exceed $8.3 billion by 2030”
Dr Nadia Tsao, Principal Analyst at IDTechEx, recently published the below article on the topic of flexible electronics within the healthcare industry.
Flexible Electronics in Wearable Cardiac Monitoring Technologies
In today’s digital age, focus on digital health and the quantified self have led to the rapid rise of heart rate monitoring technologies through wearables such as fitness trackers and smartwatches. Such devices have already proven their ability in detecting hidden heart conditions such as tachycardia and atrial fibrillation in seemingly healthy people. However, the majority of wrist-based devices currently serve only as an advance warning, they are not approved by the FDA for use as medical devices. Thus, cardiologists still need to use alternative technologies for their diagnostic and monitoring needs.
This is where flexible electronics comes in. Cardiac monitoring requires devices to make close contact with the skin, making devices that integrate flexible and even stretchable electronics ideal due to their ability to conform to the skin, the potential for a low profile, and overall patient comfort. IDTechEx forecasts that flexible electronics in cardiac monitoring, deployed in electronic skin patches and electronic textiles, will be a $2 billion market in the year 2030.
IDTechEx have been reporting on flexible electronics for the past decade and have recently published “Flexible Electronics in Healthcare 2020-2030”. In this article, IDTechEx describe how electronic skin patches and electronic textiles are used in cardiac monitoring. To find out more about other technologies for monitoring cardiovascular health, please refer to the IDTechEx report, “Cardiovascular Disease 2020-2030: Trends, Technologies & Outlook“.
Electronic Skin Patches
Electronic skin patches are wearable devices that contain electrical components which are attached to the skin, typically using an adhesive.
In cardiac monitoring, electronic skin patches present an interesting balance between the medical standard, which is a 12-lead ECG test, and consumer electronics such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. While electronic skin patches offer less data than can be obtained through a 12-lead ECG, they present more useful and accurate information than the optical technology used in smartwatches and fitness trackers, and offer continuous monitoring, unlike the 1-lead ECG in the newer smartwatch models.
Within medical applications, electronic skin patches bring increased mobility to the patient over the 12-lead test. The first step from the 12-lead ECG is the Holter monitor, a portable, wired, device designed to be used over 24 – 48 hours. However, this device remains unwieldy and intrusive.
To increase patient comfort, companies have developed cardiac monitoring patches in the form of 1 integrated device over a flexible substrate. By removing the wires and decreasing device footprint and weight, electronic skin patches are more comfortable to wear, and can be used for longer monitoring periods, up to 30 days. This longevity is critical in detecting events for patients who do not experience them daily. The next step for devices will be to incorporate printed electronics to manufacture integrated electrodes and devices with even close-fitting designs for greater patient comfort.
Overall, electronic skin patches for cardiac monitoring fill the gap between in-patient cardiac monitoring (accurate, safe, non-ambulatory, expensive), implantable cardiac monitors (accurate, less safe, ambulatory, expensive) and other wearable fitness devices (poor accuracy/no medical approval, safe, ambulatory, cheap). But the deployment of cardiac monitoring skin patches is not just limited to event monitoring or mobile cardiac telemetry. Outside of cardiac monitoring, electronic skin patches for monitoring of other diseases (e.g. respiratory), or general patient monitoring (in-patient, post-discharge, etc.) also contain cardiac monitoring capabilities.
Electronic textiles, or e-textiles for short, are products that involve both electronic and textile components in a single device. The idea is to combine the functionality from electronic components with the comfort, esthetics and ubiquity of textile products.
Smart clothing for sports used to be the major focus in the e-textiles industry – companies have made many attempts to develop mass-market products. Though e-textile companies may choose different strategies and technologies, the end products all have very similar functionalities such as tracking of activity, heart rate, respiratory rate, etc. There remains sporadic interest from apparel giants for sports applications, but many of the e-textile players have now shifted towards healthcare applications.
There is a close match between sports and medicine as the same vital signs are being detected and the same form factor (clothing) can be used. Within smart clothing, companies can design in 12- or even 15 leads for ECG readings, much more than the 2 – 3 offered by electronic skin patches. Moreover, smart clothing can be much more comfortable than electronic skin patches. The latter often causes discomfort through issues such as skin irritation. Despite the higher regulatory hurdle in healthcare vs sports, companies see the long-term benefit of e-textiles in healthcare. Smart clothing that is as comfortable as everyday clothing while still delivering medical-grade data will be key to automatic and continuous monitoring of patients going about their daily lives.
E-textiles are not just limited to clothing as a form factor, they may be incorporated into non-apparel textiles such as bed sheets, blankets, and even furniture. Regardless, the key for e-textile players today is validate their product through regulatory bodies such as the FDA, and to look into reimbursement for their products.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced clinicians around the world to test out medical technologies to continue treating and monitoring their patients remotely. Though many physicians will eventually return to in-person practice, a fraction will continue utilizing telemedicine and remote patient monitoring technologies. Technologies such as electronic skin patches and e-textiles have much to offer to the healthcare system – remote patient monitoring has been shown to result in better outcomes, higher quality of care, and increased patient satisfaction. Healthcare systems will achieve cost savings through better management of patients and thus avoiding costly hospitalization and emergency room visits. While reimbursement of remote patient monitoring technologies is moving in the right direction, it will remain a major hurdle for companies entering this space.
Dr Nadia Tsao is a Principal Analyst at IDTechEx where she has been driving the company’s research in the life sciences. Her research spans a range of topics within healthcare, including digital health, bioelectronic medicine, and tissue engineering.
At DSP Valley, we love to see our member organizations succeed. We’re happy for them, of course! We’re also thrilled to see our digitization ecosystem thriving and rewarding innovation. That’s why we’re delighted to share exciting news about one of our startup members, Helpilepsy.
Managing Epilepsy with Digital Technology and Personalized Medicine
Launched in 2017, Helpilepsy is a platform for both patients and their care team to monitor epileptic seizures, side effects, medication and other parameters. Billed as “a complete digital solution for people with epilepsy and neurologists,” the software allows for more personalized approaches to Epilepsy in patients. Currently, patients and doctors in 5 countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, and Hungary) use Helpilepsy, with more expansion on the horizon.
It works like any app: a patient can download it on their app platform of choice (the Apple store, Google Play, etc) and begin using it. Physicians and healthcare workers can track and monitor patient inputs through beautifully visualized web dashboards.
This summer, the team announced an exciting development: official ISO13485:2016 certification, with many thanks to their Quality and Regulatory Lead Amandine Berton. This may not sound like a huge deal, but it’s a big achievement, especially for a small startup team.
ISO certification pertains to a manufacturer’s quality management system, which in turn involves their documentation and processes. All new releases need to be fully documented, the team must be able to show clinical proof of their software’s effectiveness, new employees must go through a welcome checklist, and more. These must comply with ISO13485 in order to meet European regulations. EU regulations govern myriad elements, including customer feedback, logistics, development and more — all before a product can be sold with the CE mark within the EU single market.
The CE symbol, which we probably all recognize but never really think about, indicates “that products sold in the EEA have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements. When you buy a new phone, a teddy bear, or a TV within the EEA, you can find the CE mark on them. CE marking also supports fair competition by holding all companies accountable to the same rules.”1 Crucially, it is up to manufacturers to make sure their products adhere to CE standards and EU regulations.
Recently, the rules regarding medical devices and medical technology changed. From now on, medical software including apps like Helpilepsy and the team’s newest product, Migraine Manager, fall into a higher classification. This means that they are subject to much stricter oversight. Affected class I medical software companies have been given until 2024 to fully conform to the new regulations.
The fact that the Helpilepsy team has been able to secure ISO certification ahead of the deadline is a testament to their talent and dedication.
While ISO certification, and subsequent CE marking, is administratively necessary, it brings with it tangible benefits. For one thing, the team is ahead of the game. The biggest part of their work to fully comply with new regulations is complete. They can once again focus on their core business!
Moreover, the processes necessary for the certification lend further credibility to Helpilepsy’s technology. It’s a strong selling point that they can offer to potential patients, doctors, and business partners.
What’s more, as co-founder Ludovic Ampe explains, ISO certification will hopefully be a catalyst for further expansion. Since the CE mark is a European-widely recognized standard, achieving it should open up more international markets.
Innovating in the field of medical devices can get extremely complicated and overwhelm even the most experienced engineers.
For startups all the necessary areas of expertise can prove be too much, but even for well-established medical companies it is not an easy task to keep up with the ever-changing field, increased complexity and regulations of medical devices.
Areas of expertise
The first thing you need is a multidisciplinary team that covers all the different areas of expertise. For startups, this is often impossible, and they need to look for external services to complement their skills. If you take this external route, look for teams that are flexible and can work well together with your team. Look for a team that has an extensive history in medical products and other fields. They can provide a wealth of expertise and experience in various areas that even some medical device manufacturers may lack internally. This will ensure you look at your project from different angles and transfer solutions from other fields.
Experienced design firms have tried and tested development methodologies that will guide you through the whole process. They know where the pitfalls are, and can work according to the required ISO standards.
Start from the user
Human factors, user-centric design, and usability engineering play an increasingly important role in the medical device industry.
Designing for healthcare must start from the user (patient, doctor, caregiver), not the technology. Particularly crucial is designing for human factors from patient acceptance, to increasing patient and user safety, to minimizing the risks of potential human errors.
Acquiring insights into user needs, fears, and use from patients and workers is essential for designing a successful medical device. Therefore, extensive user research and testing are an absolute must in the development process.
Medical devices are not stand alone anymore. Many products are connected to platforms and exchange data with patients, doctors, and caregivers. This requires new insights and disciplines to design frustration-free user interfaces, secure data protection, and interconnected products.
Additionally, some healthcare is shifting away from hospitals and other medical environments to patients’ homes. Connected smart products collect medical data and make it available for patients, and doctors, in real time, to make the right decisions. This not only makes the development of products more complex, with smart censors and high connectivity, but also demands a complete rethinking of how healthcare services are delivered. These products become product-service systems that require a service design expertise to make them successful on the market.
Finally, when you have your minimal viable product, proof of concept, and final prototype, you must be able to produce it in a consistent error-free way.
Thinking about this is not something you start with after the design is finished. Design for manufacturing should already be part of the design process from the very beginning. Production and product cost need to be taken into account at the very start of development.
Finding the right partner to produce your product is also essential, and if you start early enough, a good partner will help you in the last stage to go to production.
Go to market
Established healthcare companies have the necessary expertise to market their products in-house. For startups this can be a challenge. Even the best designed product can fail if it is not brought to market the right way. At the start of the development, product marketing and branding must already be part of the thinking process. This is the only way to make sure they will reinforce each other and avoid unpleasant surprises at launch.
How does Achilles face medical design?
At Achilles, we advance healthcare through people-centereddesign. We prototype early and often, to ensure we keep the people we design for at the heart of the process. By putting ideas in the hands of users from low-fidelity paper interfaces to 3D-printed prototypes and high-level immersion VR, we systematically identify improvements and preventively exclude risks without compromising our intuition.
We believe better health is achieved by engaging people at every stage of their health journey. Our cross functional team — consisting of biomedical engineers, designers, usability experts, and a doctor — work across disciplines to integrate people’s needs with responsible technology and sustainable business models. We strive to establish innovative healthcare service solutions that drive business value by advancing the standard of healthcare.
Visit Achilles Design at MEDICA Düsseldorf from 16-19/11/2020.