Claudia de Breij, Mies Bouwman, and State Secretary Van Rijn signed the third Health Deal ‘Academy Het Dorp’ (The Village) concerning the development and deployment of new technologies for people with disabilities. ‘Het Dorp’ will become a care environment using the latest technology where people can learn to live with their disabilities as independently as possible. Claudia de Breij will become the new ambassador of the renewed ‘Het Dorp’.

‘Het Dorp’ has been established by healthcare organisation Siza. In ‘Het Dorp’ clients, knowledge institutes and companies are collaborating to realise the goal of encouraging innovation in long-term care. Following the signing of this Health Deal, old icon of  ‘Het Dorp’ Mies Bouwman, introduced the new ambassador Claudia de Breij. Together, Bouwman, De Breij and the Secretary of State visited ‘Het Dorp’ to see how people with disabilities make use of the new technologies in healthcare. As ambassador, De Breij will continuously draw attention to the need of people with disabilities to use such innovations to gain more control over their lives.

State Secretary Van Rijn: “Mies Bouwman remains forever the icon of ‘Het Dorp’, but it is fantastic that Claudia de Breij has become an ambassador of ‘Het Dorp’ and will commit to the enormous possibilities of the latest healthcare technologies.”

Read more the previous two Health Deals in our Health~Holland Year in Review. Or read more on this Health Deal via the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Paul Janssen Futurelab Leiden launches innovative training programme

A new blended learning programme for biomedical professionals

Futurelab is an international training programme providing blended learning (online and on-campus) to biomedical professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit. The first module, Clinical Development, started on April 3rd. Due to the large number of applicants in the first round (in which scholarships by ZonMw and Vereniging Innovatieve Geneesmiddelen were available), a second group will start on May 15th. Starting today, post-graduate biomedical professionals are invited to register for this course at the website.

Launch of new Life Sciences & Health hub in Rotterdam

Life Sciences & Health in Rotterdam

On 24 February 2017, the Life Sciences & Health 010 (LS&H 010) Hub opened its doors on the ninth floor of the Science Tower in Rotterdam. Over a hundred companies specialised in medical science and healthcare are located in Rotterdam, which qualifies this as the larger life sciences and health network in the Netherlands. With a specific LS&H 010 Hub the city aims to bring together entrepreneurs, scientists and healthcare organisations. The collaboration between these organisations enables new innovations in the LSH sector to be realised, and immediately tested by patients and clients. The Hub is an initiative of Erasmus MC, the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, the LIFE Rotterdam Consortium and the City of Rotterdam. 

Innovative medical sector

The LS&H 010 Hub boosts the innovative medical sector in the region of Rotterdam. With its location in the Rotterdam Science Tower, the Hub realises a physical platform for meetings and (net)working events. Next to the Erasmus MC Incubator and the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, many companies and startups in the field of medical technology and healthcare have already settled in the Tower. In the so-called LabHotel researchers and companies can hire flexible laboratories and other facilities.

Professor Huib Pols, rector magnificus of the Erasmus University and Top Team member, detects an enormous vitality in the Rotterdam Science Tower: “From being a squat the Tower has developed into seven floors of interaction between thinkers and doers. This boosts science!”

Please visit the website of the LSH hub for more information or watch the video below.

Will you receive the Medical Inspirator prize 2017?

With this prize ZonMw aims at the involvement of end-users at an early stage in the development of medical products. Patients (or a representative) and researchers are invited to submit their project together. The involvement of medical doctors, care providers, health funds and companies are encouraged.

This year’s theme is medical technology. There are three categories with their own conditions:

  • eHealth applications: longer at home with dementia, prevention of overweight or loneliness of the elderly.
  • Innovative instruments: imaging, minimal invasive surgery, rehabilitation and homecare.
  • Apparatus: products that increase self-management and independence of the patient.

The top 3 projects will produce a professionally-made, three minute video. The general public will play an important role in determining the winner of 75,000 Euro. The numbers two and three will receive an amount of respectively 50,000 and 25,000 Euro.

The deadline for submitting a project is May 16th 2017 (14.00h). More details about the prize can be found on the subsidy calander of ZonMw.

Read more information on the prize and the winners of 2015 and 2016 on the ZonMw website.

After movie of the national eHealth week

With 249 partners from throughout the Netherlands, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and EPC organised the first national eHealth week. The purpose of this festive week was to inform more people about the opportunities and effectiveness of eHealth applications. Many people do not even know what eHealth really means or what it can do for them or their surroundings. Therefore from 21-27 January more than 100 events were organised to give the general public more insight into eHealth solutions. Minister Schippers and State Secretary Van Rijn travelled from Groningen to Eindhoven to visit a wide range of activities. Some of these were official moments for new collaborations, for example with the third Health Deal or first Health Impact Bound.

Watch the after movie below to gain an impression of the week or read the highlights (Dutch) of the eHealth week in a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives.

Political cafe on the innovation power of the Netherlands

The first round addressed the economic power of our country and the opportunities to enlarge our position in the world. Hans de Boer (VNO-NCW) introduced the topic with a short video on global challenges and Dutch solutions. The participants of the discussion included Meiny Prins (Priva), Inand Lagendijk (BlockChain), Thomas Grosveld (VNO-NCW), and Bas van ‘t Wout (VVD). The discussion centered on the possibility of an investment fund to cross the valley of death and the contribution of the government versus the industry itself. Thomas Grosfeld (VNO-NCW) ended the discussion on a positive note: “We need to be proud of our public-private partnerships, they are unique!”

Professor Hans Schenk of the Utrecht University introduced the innovation discussion, followed by participants Bas Bloem (Radboudumc), Eppo Bruins (Christen Unie), Mei Li Vos (PvdA), and Amandus Lundqvist (ambassador of Top Sector High Tech Systems & Materials). The discussion concerned the amount of government funding invested in innovation and the question as to whether the top sector policy needs to be executed on a regional level. Bloem added to the discussion by describing how Top Sector LSH helped him with the international collaboration with Verily

Human Capital
The last discussion on human capital was introduced by Loek Hermans (ambassador of Top Sector Horticulture & Starting materials). According to Hermans: “The industry needs to contribute to educating the future employees.” Mustafa Amhaouch (PvdA), Eddie Vlijm (Hellebrekers technieken), and Tinus Hammink (SEECE) lead the discussion on the potential of Dutch human capital.

Watch the Political Cafe via the stream on Facebook here or get an impression of the day with the video below.

uMotion: a successful road to reimbursement and scale-up

Interview with Bart Villerius, Director of Villerius Medical

uMotion: therapeutic walking aid

The idea of the uMotion arose when Villerius discovered that general walkers did not meet the requirements for people with a balance disorder. During conversations with patients with these specific problems – Villerius visited up to eight people a day – the functioning of a walker had to reversed for these patients. For example, the uMotion does not brake by pressing the levers but instead if the levers are pressed it moves forwards. The uMotion has been optimised thanks to the participation of end users and is therefore a perfect example of development by co-creation. Caregivers (occupational therapists and physiotherapists) soon embraced the uMotion as well. To allow his invention to reach a larger patient group, Villerius started to talk to health insurance companies back in 2009.

A long road to reimbursement

With a lot of positive reactions of patients and medical specialists, the road to reimbursement of uMotion seemed simple. Despite Villerius’ motto ‘the market has to be willing to pay’ reimbursement of your medical product by health insurance companies is vital in the Netherlands in the long run. Unfortunately, the reality soon seemed to be different. Health insurers are large companies, where employees seem to switch between departments. Nobody was able to tell Villerius – despite appreciation of patient and caregiver – if and when the uMotion could claim reimbursement. The ensuing negotiations took more than five years. Ultimately the health insurers agreed that the uMotion as expedient walking aid had to be reimbursed: people have to be able to move as well as possible. Nevertheless, Villerius indicates that although the theory got the green light, in practice he often faced a red light. Villerius gives the tip that such legal agreements should be known by the care recipient and caregiver, to accelerate the process of reimbursement.

Beyond Dutch borders

In view of the global challenges of ageing and self-reliance of elderly, Villerius Medical is currently focusing on the expansion to the international market. By participating in a trade mission to the United States and in the HHINT Starter programme, Villerius gained guidance in introducing uMotion abroad. The uMotion will be soon sold to the private market in Germany. This market is much larger than the Dutch market, which provides Villerius the opportunity to held tight to his former business model and his motto ‘the market has to be willing to pay’. That being the case he will not start the negotiations with health insurance companies.

Of all the MedTech products developed, only a few make it to market. Villerius happily shares his experiences and gives starting entrepreneurs the following message: “Start small, but do start and make sure you get paid by the market you serve as soon as possible”. In his case, the development together with end users and caregivers is crucial.

Some other news highlights in Dutch

Innovation paradox by Jan Raaijmakers
The chairman of Top Sector LSH Jan Raaijmakers wrote a blog on Skipr, a Dutch healthcare platform, on the innovation paradox. Find his vision on the future of innovation and R&D on the Skipr website.

Oration of Ton Logtenberg
Ton Logtenberg, as CEO of Merus, a company that discovers and develops differentiating therapeutics aimed at substantially prolonging the lives of cancer patients, was festively appointed as a Professor of Biomedical Entrepreneurship in March. During this oration he launches a new business plan for Netherlands, read more on the HollandBIO website

Much attention for RegMed XB
On 30 March there was an official kick-off for collaboration on regenerative medicine, called RegMed XB. Read more article by NOS, Telegraaf, or TU/e, or watch the Dutch television show Pauw with professor Clemens van Blitterswijk below.