The National Growth Fund (het Nationale Groeifonds), an investment of €20 billion over a five-year period, is intended to give the Dutch economy a boost in order to realise long-term growth. The TechMed Centre is working on a Growth Fund application for the development of medical technology. This is done under the banner of MedTechNL, a national consortium of more than two hundred partners with the TechMed Centre playing a key role.
Text: Jelle Posthuma
MedTechNL aims to give the Dutch economy a boost and make the healthcare sector future-proof. “With a leading ecosystem for medical technology, we can keep people out of the hospital and reduce healthcare costs,” says Nico Verdonschot, scientific director of the TechMed Centre. “The consortium strives to contribute to an essential healthcare transition. We are approaching the limits of our current healthcare system and it will become unsustainable and unstaffable in the future.”
With the utilisation of medical technology MedTechNL wants to turn the tide, Verdonschot says. “The goal is to reduce healthcare efforts over the whole range that a patient experiences from being healthy, becoming ill, and living at home with a chronic disease. We do this by implementing three concepts that we can realise with medical technology: prevention and early diagnosis, treatment within a hospital with minimal side effects and monitoring and treatment of patients within their own living environment.”
According to Verdonschot, MedTechNL aids companies in the medical technology sector. “Many of these companies are often unable to develop and test their products in practice. As a result, authorities do not always approve their innovative products resulting in high financial risks for these companies and blocking innovations from being introduced on the market. MedTechNL sets up an infrastructure for these companies, including shared development and test facilities and funding instruments, so they can realise their medical innovations in a more efficient and successful manner.”
Verdonschot says sensors are an important example of technological innovation. “We all know the step counter, but what we want to work towards are many more accurate and reliable sensors that measure all kinds of physiological processes in the body. Think of posture and movement sensors for people suffering from Parkinson's or osteoarthritis or sensors that measure the status of the cardiovascular system. Another example is an ultrasound examination to inspect the cardiovascular system executed by the general practitioner instead of having to go to the hospital. By conducting better measurements closer to people's own living environment, we will be able to monitor and treat people at lower costs.
According to Verdonschot, there are two sides to this coin. “The programme offers both economic and societal benefits. The advanced infrastructure for medical technology will make it easier for Dutch companies to market their products abroad. At the same time, foreign companies will come to the Netherlands to make use of our innovative infrastructure. “The societal benefits are that the population remains healthy for a longer period of time and we can improve the quality and sustainability of our healthcare system”
Within MedTechNL, UMCs, other hospitals, technical universities, universities of applied sciences, businesses, healthcare funds and TNO work together on the Growth Fund application. The UT serves as an important instigator in this consortium. “It is a collective undertaking involving more than two hundred partners,” Verdonschot emphasises. “By early 2022, more will be known about the Growth Fund application. Regardless, we will continue our efforts to reach our goals and to have a positive impact on the MedTech ecosystem and the sustainability of our healthcare system.’’