Belgium – lifetech.brussels Ecosystem is ECHAlliance Ecosystem of the Month – July

18th July 2022

We are glad to have our lifetech.brussels Ecosystem as our Ecosystem of the Month in July. Andy Bleaden, our Communities Director, says: “As one of our more mature Ecosystems – lifetech.brussels Ecosystem has a strong tradition both of supporting start-ups like many of our ecosystems but with a Brussels focus that enables them to target prevention and hospital innovation as well within the beating heart of Brussels that enables them to bring a wide mix of stakeholders and a unique ecosystem to partner with.”

What is the approximate stakeholder breakdown of your ecosystem?

hub.brussels is the Brussels Business Support Agency. It provides free support for businesses and shops in Brussels, helping them to grow on the international stage and attract foreign investment to Brussels. hub.brussels supports and hosts 6 specialised innovation clusters. 

Among them, lifetech.brussels is the Brussels HealthTech cluster. It aims at facilitating and stimulating the attractiveness and success of high potential HealthTech solutions with a specific focus on medical technologies and digital health (especially if they have social and environmental impact). 

Our goal is to accelerate the availability of innovative healthcare solutions at the service of patients’ wellbeing and professionals’ needs. We promote collaborations and synergies between entrepreneurs, researchers, makers, practitioners and industries. 

The cluster gathers more than 250 company members and partners.

Who are the top 3 champions from your Ecosystem?

  • MoveUP: Through the moveUP Coach App, patients are offered an optimal treatment and rehabilitation for hip and knee arthroplasty, both before and after surgery. Health care professionals get insights and control over the treatment of their patients to achieve higher patient satisfaction and better outcomes in an efficient way. MoveUP is the first app in level M3 of our national validation pyramid (https://mhealthbelgium.be/), it means that RIZIV (our national security system) will officially reimburse the use of a medical app in healthcare for the first time. https://www.moveup.care/ 
  • Neuroventis: The Neuroventis platform is a medical device software where patients or their caregivers can access different tools to track, understand and self-manage their neurological disorder. As Helpilepsy and MigraineMananger interact with the Neuroventis Dashboard, the healthcare professional can monitor, understand and manage their patients’ disorders (epilepsy and headache). Overall, it empowers patients to take ownership over their treatments by actively involving them. https://neuroventis.care/ 
  • Axiles Bionics: Axiles Bionics is a spin-off from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel that was created in January 2019 with the ambition to build an innovation center of excellence in new bionic technologies. With more than 15 years of research blending advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and human biomechanics, Axiles Bionics wants to improve the quality of life of people with assistive robotics. Their first focus today is with amputees and bringing them the next generation bionic feet. https://www.axilesbionics.com/ 

What EU funding/collaboration are you involved with, or you would like to be part of?

Thanks to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), lifetech.brussels launched in 2016 a yearly acceleration program dedicated to medical technologies innovators.  The Medtech Accelerator is a 5-months program offering workshops, coaching, visits, and networking to the selected participants. In 2022, 8 innovative healthtech startups join the 7th edition of the medtech accelerator.

https://lifetechbrussels.com/medtech-accelerator-lifetech/

At hub.brussels we have also the chance to collaborate with an EU team representing Enterprise Europe Network and National Contact Point. Each cluster has its own thematic advisor to help the company members to find techno/commercial partners all over Europe but also to identify the right EU call for projects. 

What are the key priorities and themes for your ecosystem?

The priorities of the Brussels region relate to the continuity of care, patient empowerment, prevention and personalized medicine. 

In 2022, the cluster has launched 2 specific projects to support these priorities: 

Prevention: In 2022, lifetech.brussels has launched a new project dedicated to prevention in healthcare. The main objectives are to facilitate testing, validation and adoption of innovative solutions for primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare prevention. Therefore, the cluster is working on a benchmark with other regions in Europe. We plan also to organize a “prevention week” in order to federate a new community dedicated to preventive care. We also want to foster the links between hospitals and innovators by organizing innovation breaks inside the Brussels hospitals by matching prevention solutions and users.

Medical Innovation Centers in Hospitals: Willing to match hospital’s needs with innovative solutions, the cluster launched a call for projects dedicated to the Brussels hospitals to select the first hospital where an innovation center will be implemented. In 2022, the pilot project will start at Hôpital Universitaire de Bruxelles (H.U.B.) (network of hospitals gathering Hôpital Erasme, Institut Jules Bordet and Hôpital universitaire des enfants Reine Fabiola (HUDERF)).

What is your primary strength as an ecosystem?

The central position in Europe, the cosmopolitan atmosphere, the multilingual and skilled populations and the high quality of life of Brussels create a welcoming environment for any innovative healthcare technology company. With a high concentration of universities, higher education schools and hospitals on a small territory, Brussels is a vibrant ecosystem, buzzing with new ideas, projects and achievements. The ecosystem supports and accelerates start-ups and scale-ups companies, promoting collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas.

Lifetech.brussels acts as a facilitator to break the silos and facilitate the connection between the different actors of the Brussels healthtech ecosystem (companies, public institutions, public authorities, private insurances, hospitals, research centers, universities, trade associations, …). Moreover, being part of hub.brussels, the Brussels Business Support Agency, is a nice opportunity for companies as they can find any kind of support and coaching (legal, business, subsidies, internationalization, EU funding…). We work also in close collaboration with the regional funding authorities finance.brussels and innoviris.brussels to ensure the quality of the projects on the one hand and to facilitate the access to public funding on the other hand.

Who are your clinical champions, either hospitals, clinicians, specialities?

Clinical Trials / Cancer Research

19% of worldwide clinical trials related to cancer are conducted in Brussels. Many research institutions are based in Brussels to run their researches and clinical trials: 

Digital Health

4 million euros were invested by the Brussels-Capital Region over 4 years to foster the use of Emergency Medical Response (EMR). 100% usage of EMR in all 18 hospitals and by all 9,000 healthcare professionals in Brussels

Medical Technologies

  • Fondation Michel Cremer: The Foundation supports endoscopy medical research in order to improve the general well-being of the patient and reduce complications. It is chaired by Professor Jacques Devière, Head of the Gastroenterology Department of the Erasmus Hospital.

The Foundation ensures a close collaboration, bringing together many scientific disciplines, particularly between physicians and engineers, creating and manufacturing innovative and valuable devices for endoscopy. https://michelcremerfoundation.eu/

  • BMDC: The Brussels Medical Device Center is a collaborative platform involving physicians and engineers http://www.bmdc.eu/ 
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