SBIR: Active Elderly People in the Netherlands

A hospital is not designed to promote the activity of elderly patients, since illness is obviously associated with rest. “Take it easy, then you'll get better”. However, research shows just the opposite. Rest is unnecessary and counterproductive to recovery. Patients – especially elderly patients – need to keep moving. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Maastricht UMC+, and Top Sector LSH joined forces for the SBIR competition 'Active Elderly People in the Netherlands' (Acti-On). Through this SBIR programme Dutch entrepreneurs were encouraged to find a solution. 

SBIR programme for solving societal problems
SBIR is a competitive programme in which entrepreneurs' creativity is harnessed to solve societal problems. It challenges entrepreneurs to design new products or services and brings these to the market. Companies with the best proposals receive a contract for a feasibility study. The companies with the most promising feasibility study then receive a contract to further research and develop their product.

Various parties participate in Acti-on
Last spring, the call for proposals was published for phase 1 of the Acti-On competition: the feasibility studies. A total of 24 applications came in from a variety of parties. Based on the SBIR criteria – impact, technological feasibility, economic perspective and the cost of the tender – the evaluation committee selected the top six proposals. These applicants received phase 1 contracts from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. The companies range from an architectural firm to a high-tech starter and a gaming business.

Unique collaboration with regional partners
What makes this Top Sector SBIR unique is the collaboration with regional partners: in this case with Maastricht UMC+ (MUMC+). The companies that conduct the feasibility studies have a test environment at MUMC+ at their disposal. Furthermore, MUMC+ provides knowledge and expertise. The companies have already taken full advantage of this in phase 1.

Starting phase 2

This autumn, the feasibility studies have been completed and the assessment for phase 2 (R&D project) finished. The three projects that have been selected for phase 2 are: Holland Health House (De Jong Gortemaker Algra Architecten en Ingenieurs B.V.), For what do you come out of bed? (Buiten Komt Voorbij foundation), and Safely moving with smart sensory (Maastricht Instruments B.V.).