UTFacultiesEEMCSNewsEnabling innovations to survive the 'Valley of Death'

Enabling innovations to survive the 'Valley of Death' Article in digital magazine FMT Gezondheidszorg

Robotics has a high potential to solve the growing staff shortages and decrease the costs in healthcare by introducing high precision and creating efficient workflows. However, many promising innovations, including medical robots, often fail before reaching the market. UT is working to revolutionalize the field by launching multiple initiatives including the Robotics Centre and promoting collaborations in Europe.

In an article for FMT Gezondheidszorg, Françoise Siepel, technical physician and associate professor in the Robotics and Mechatronics group, states that robotics can improve the quality of healthcare across Europe on several levels, ranging from surgical to companion robots.

“Robotics has a high potential to address the increasing shortage of personnel and the continuing rise of costs in healthcare”. Unfortunately, innovations rarely reach the market, therefore innovators in healthcare should focus on ‘surviving the valley of the death’. Removing adoption barriers and creating trust on the clinical side is key.

The UT is currently creating a change in how innovations are introduced to the market following the value chain. It has bundled all robotics research, including medical care, in a Robotics Center and has already taken the initiative for European organisations to join forces to bring robotics into the clinical setting through DIH-HERO.


Digital Innovation Hubs Healthcare Robotics (DIH-HERO) connects innovation centres across Europe. UT wrote the proposal and got it honoured in Brussels in 2019. The aim was to build a European network building, as a platform for healthcare robotics that could provide support in developing innovative products and services. Five application areas were identified:

  • diagnostics;
  • intervention;
  • rehabilitation;
  • support for healthcare professionals;
  • patient support.

The consortium comprises 17 partners from 11 countries, including renowned parties such as Belgium's imec, Imperial College London, ETH Zurich and, in Germany, Fraunhofer IPA and RWTH Aachen. They each bring their own expertise and facilities, such as laboratories and clinical testing environments, and have appointed innovation coaches.

These help SMEs with grant applications, (inter)national cooperation further development of their innovations and certification. 


You can read the entire article (in Dutch) on the FMT website
Read the online article