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Health Event ‘How to make a success of your medical innovation’

On 1 October the CMINEN and Holland Innovative organised the Health Event on the theme of ‘How to make a success of your medical innovation’. During the day participants learned what is needed to transform a good idea for health care into a successful innovation that society and the market are really looking for.

In practice, medical innovations are often still the result of technology push from the research or business community. Consequently, funding and expensive research time is wasted. The chance of success increases greatly if the precise needs of the prospective users are investigated at an early stage and if those needs are actually addressed in the development process.

During the Health Event, which was held in the DesignLab on the campus of the University of Twente, scientists, medical professionals, entrepreneurs and students were shown various methods that might be needed to make a success of a medical innovation. During the day, a lot of attention was devoted to the ‘Design for Six Sigma’ strategy, which the participants used to explore precisely what clients want, how those wishes can be measured and how to respond to the findings. MIRA researcher Janine van Til (HTSR research group) also gave a lecture on measuring patients’ preferences in the development of medical applications and Jasper Brands of Panton presented a number of stories about the successful role of design in medical innovation.

Between lectures, the participants worked on their own cases under the guidance of business coaches with a lot of experience in the health care sector. At the end of the day, the participants presented their ideas to a jury.

Jasper van Weerd won a prize for a special coating that he plans to apply to hard lenses, among other things. The coating, just 5 nanometres thick, keeps the lens cleaner and more comfortable and reduces the risk of eye infections. The jury found his idea to be the innovation with the greatest market potential. Like the second and third prize winners, Van Weerd received a voucher worth 1000 euro to be used for professional support from specialists from Holland Innovative.

Ruud Steenwelle was one of the participants from the UT at the event. He presented a nanosensor that can measure acetone in the breath of professional athletes, for example. Acetone is released as the body burns fat. The idea behind the sensor, which is connected to the user’s smartphone, is that users can use the measurements to optimise their training regime.

Steenwelle regards it as a successful day. “For example, I learned that the connection with the user needs to be better. I was very focused on improving the sensor’s sensitivity, while the user interface, making the sensor more user friendly, is perhaps more important than its sensitivity.”