Swiss Medtech Day: Start-ups collect the prizes

600 delegates attended the Swiss Medtech Day, which was for the first time jointly organised by the CTI and the industry associations Medical Cluster and Fasmed. The EPFL spin-off Intento from Ecublens was presented with the CTI Swiss Medtech Award.

President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and Gábor Székely, CTI Commission member and head of CTI Medtech, presented Dr Andrea Maesani and Dr Andrea Biasucci of Intento SA with the award in the form of a stone trophy and cheque for CHF 15,000. “All three of the projects nominated deserved to win the award. They demonstrate the enormous spirit of innovation in this country and how it benefits the medtech industry and Switzerland’s standing as a location for business”, said President Schneider-Ammann in his address in praise of the nominees.

The winning project was selected by the 600 delegates from medtech research and industry during a live voting session at Swiss Medtech Day 2016. Andrea Maesani convinced the audience with his amazing test results and the best pitch of the three finalists.

Innovation for patients with brain injuries caused by strokes
Every year, 17 million people worldwide suffer strokes – a third are left severely paralysed. Rehabilitation therapies available today can offer only little help. A CTI-funded project carried out by the EPFL and its spin-off Intento is giving new hope to people with brain injuries. The user-friendly system they have developed consists of tablet software and a motion control device which is connected to an electrical stimulator. The therapist selects one of several programmed movements on the tablet and loads them wirelessly onto the motion-control device. The patient is connected to the stimulator via electrodes. Turning a dial on the device controls the electrical stimulation of the muscles and nerves – and thereby the degree of movement of the paralysed arm according to the programmed movement selected. Initial studies show how effective the system is: 80 per cent of patients showed a clinically relevant improvement after two weeks compared to only 30% undergoing conventional intensive therapy. Intento plans to launch two versions of the product – one for use in hospitals, followed by a second for simple use at home. The company has started a financing round. The award will help to find investors.

The second startup which was awarded at the Medtech Day was Coremedic. The company won the award for the best pitch at the “Science Slam” together with its project partner the Institute for Human Centered Engineering at the Berner University of Applied Sciences.

Optimism and critical voices
The mood in the industry is still very good. “I see great opportunities for the Swiss medtech industry”, said keynote speaker Andreas Wieland, CEO Hamilton Bonaduz AG. Hamilton will invest in a new factory in Domat/Ems. But during the breakout sessions also critical voices could be heard. For example Gery Colombo, founder and CEO of Hocoma, said that the situation for an SME like Hocoma is getting tougher and tougher. He mentioned the tax situation in the Canton of Zurich and the problems with the European research program Horizon2020. Colombo worries that there is no reaction to this trend. He called for a joint effort that will be necessary to keep Switzerland on top with regards to innovation.  

Successful Swiss Medtech Day with new organisers
The CTI has organised the annual CTI Medtech Event for the last ten years. In 2015 the industry associations Medical Cluster and FASMED held the Swiss Medtech Day for the first time. To underline the importance of medical technology, the three organisers decided to merge the two events in 2016, thereby creating the largest national platform for industry, commerce, research and start-ups from the medtech sector. The centrepiece of this year’s Swiss Medtech Day was a series of four ‘Breakout Sessions’. A large number of medtech experts talked with delegates on the subjects of market access, Workplace 2020, sustainable innovation culture and the current state of research. Promising ongoing research projects were also presented in a science slam and delegates were also able to find out the latest about medtech research and industry at an exhibition.