Wander Kenter is Programme Manager of the strategic Sustainable Healthcare Technology (SHT) programme of the Technical Medical Centre. Together with his colleagues Melanie Lindenberg and Keshen Mathura, and Scientific Leaders Ruud Verdaasdonk and Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen, he strives to bring research results and innovations to society. ‘More and more researchers are managing to take advantage of the impulse programme’, says Kenter.
Text: Sandra Pool
“We, as University of Twente, conduct extensive research,” Kenter states. “We attract external funding and forty to fifty per cent of our research funding is spent on health innovative research. On top of that, we develop a lot of spinoffs in the health sector, but the question remains how we can make sure that all those investments and initiatives actually have a real impact. Can we expedite or accelerate that process somehow?”
These are the questions that Kenter and his team work on. They have an important task because the field of health technology is plagued by a number of issues. “First of all, developing a health tech product takes a long time. Secondly, the regulations pertaining to health technology are unclear at times and, thirdly, we have to ask ourselves how we can get people to actually want to pay for our product. These are questions on which we are working hard on to answer. What are the barriers and how do you overcome them?”
The strategic programme determines how best to overcome these obstacles. “Evidence is an important point of attention,” Kenter explains. “You have to prove that your product is faster, better and more affordable. To receive certain certifications, you are required to document your test results in the correct, specified manner.”
One way to solve this issue is by offering researchers generic templates for their documentation. “When researchers conduct their tests, the templates show them the best way to record their results to ensure that these can also be used at later stages, e.g. when the time comes to bring their innovation to market. Test results should be usable for companies that take the innovation further.
Another tool involves conducting quick scans. “These reveal what knowledge is still missing and whether a product is ready for market. We can then offer specific advice or help out by bringing the right people together. A new expert group to be established will hopefully accelerate this as well.”
Kenter and his team want to allow researchers to create an impact in healthcare and in society by speeding up the implementation of innovations in the field of healthcare technology. “The programme is intended to bring patients, healthcare professionals, technicians, regulators and financiers together with the goal to further strengthen the University of Twente's position as a HealthTech Innovation Hub.”