Already in 2017, Bart Verkerke, professor of biomedical product development at UMCG, had the idea for a portable alternative to the infusion stand. One that you can safely put in your bag, making movement much easier. An infusion pump that doesn’t rely on gravity, can withstand shocks, and orientation is not important despite being a pump. This resulted in the portable infusion pump from the startup Ivy Medical.
So Verkerke wrote an assignment for his students to come up with a design and eventually approached the University of Groningen Centre of Entrepreneurship (UGCE). There he met Melcher Frankema. “Together with a medical student, we went for coffee with Verkerke and then we said: hey, this is really interesting,” says Frankema. “A bag instead of an infusion stand is not only more pleasant but also healthier. A lot of movement is good for recovery and reduces the chance of complications. We quickly realized that there was potential here, because it is also high on the agenda of hospitals to get patients moving.”
Thus, a beautiful triangle relationship was formed between the professor, the students, and the UGCE, and startup Ivy Medical was born. The startup submitted a feasibility study to NWO, with a surprising conclusion. They found out that not only could a difference be made for patients, but also for nurses. “They now spend a lot of time on infusion stands, sometimes up to two hours a day, because there are often error messages that trigger alarms,” explains Frankema.
So Ivy Medical wanted to make a pump that gives much fewer error messages, in addition to a portable pump. The technology of Ivy Medical is suitable for both purposes because it is designed with the idea that it should be able to withstand shocks. “Patients should move less and nurses should run less,” summarizes Frankema.
All of this ultimately led to investments in the north of Carduso Capital and the RVO in 2020, which allowed the project to secure funding and partners to be sought to further develop the concept. Ivy Medical is also included in the Groningen biomedical collaboration Life Cooperative and has close contacts with UMCG and Martiniziekenhuis. Thanks to all the developments, the concept has now been translated into a working prototype: the so-called Ivy Duo Plus.
A prototype will be released in April that works almost like the intended final product. In 2023, Ivy Medical hopes to run the first pilots with a producible and approved infusion pump. “We are really well on our way now, everyone is eagerly waiting for it to finally happen,” Frankema enthuses. Ivy Medical hopes to first conquer the Dutch market and then steadily grow towards abroad and eventually the whole world.
If he has to choose a highlight of the process so far? Frankema mentions two. “A test in September last year showed that a nurse spent less time working with a prototype of our pump than another. We managed to win that competition. But I also find all the patients who have indicated to us how nice it is to be able to walk around with such a pump a highlight. That it simply works very well during testing and that you see that the product is becoming reliable, that gives me confidence.”
Article: Economie Groningen