“Our invention helps cut two main causes of perinatal mortality: lack of oxygen before or during birth and premature birth. In the Netherlands these complications occur in around 12,000 cases each year,” explains Bas Lemmens, CEO and co-founder of Nemo Healthcare.
The TU/e spin-off derived from a scientific partnership with the Máxima Medical Center Veldhoven. From studies undertaken by TU/e and the MMC, it became evident that in a clinical delivery in the hospital, monitoring the contractions via an electroplaster simply stuck on the belly works as well as, if not better than, sensors. Traditional measurement systems currently provide inadequate information concerning contraction activity.
The prompt observation of contraction activity is decisive for the survival chances of the unborn child. If the contractions are not noticed, the baby risks being squeezed in the womb. “The main benefit is that you give a baby much more of a chance,’’ Lemmens proposes. “A more accurate registration of contractions gives the attending physician more scope to intervene in time.’’ The new technology is also very easy to use. “In contrast to other systems, you can connect PUREtrace to the existing surveillance monitors without any problems.”
With help from TU/e Innovation Lab, subsidies were acquired in 2008 and 2009. “That was the starting gun for us to launch Nemo Healthcare.” In 2013 it actually happened: PUREtrace was there, including CE labeling. “The first order indeed came from the MMC. Nice to see that engagement in the project. After years of research, PUREtrace is now actually going to be put to use, and that’s great. The results are good. More than that, reactions to the invention have been wildly enthusiastic. Something to be proud of.”
The next step is to get the product in the market. Lemmens is initially targeting the Benelux, but the US is also on the cards. Nemo Healthcare is concurrently developing a second product to measure the heart activity of the unborn child. “We need investors for this but I’m confident we’ll get them.
“It is also good that we are able to look for collaboration in the region – we’re right in the middle of the Brainport region and we work with local partners. I have unswerving faith in our product. A product that is relevant to society, and that is good for the whole country.”