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Around 140 participants joined the event that focused on new medical technologies developed by Luxembourg enterprises. One main ambition was to identify technological and commercial synergies between different players in the sector – a key objective of the Luxembourg HealthTech Cluster, managed by Luxinnovation, which organised the event.

Updated healthtech sector mapping

Deputy Prime Minister Étienne Schneider speaking at "Health Technologies @ Luxembourg 2020"In order to monitor the evolution of the sector, the cluster, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Economy and Luxinnovation’s market intelligence department, has just released an update of its mapping of health technologies in Luxembourg. The mapping shows that 44% of companies in the sector work with diagnostic and medical devices, 29% with bio-pharma and 27% with other technologies.

“With 50% of its 136 companies created less than 10 years ago and 80% of its workforce active in companies of less than 10 employees, the health tech sector in Luxembourg is a young sector still in its infancy,” commented Minister Schneider. “The joint efforts of the HealthTech Cluster manager at Luxinnovation and my team at the Ministry of the Economy have allowed creating more cohesion among the different players of the sector.”

Luxembourg has become home to a dynamic and diversified healthtech community.

“We have come a tremendous way. I think we can confidently claim that over the past decade Luxembourg has become home to a dynamic and diversified healthtech community that not only brings economic value, but provides support to patients in many different ways,” confirmed Luxinnovation’s CEO Sasha Baillie.

Digital healthcare tools

Digitalisation is clearly a driver of many of Luxembourg’s healthtech companies. “Several of the products and services presented today would not exist without digitalisation of our society,” Ms Baillie pointed out. “They illustrate how useful innovation based on digital data can be – both from an economic and a human perspective.”

The first presentation illustrated how digitalisation can make life easier for both patients and doctors. Doctena has developed a digital platform for booking appointments with doctors. The results speak for themselves: the company is currently present in six countries today, and counted over 1.1 million appointments booked in Luxembourg alone in 2019. The application has advantages for both patients and doctors. “Studies show that most doctors lose 5-10% of their appointments every week due to late cancellations. Optimising their calendars, and making it possible to book a last-minute appointment, is a true added value,” said CEO Patrick Kersten.

University of Luxembourg spin-off company NIUM is also developing a digital solution to make things easier, in this case for people who need to change their diet. “Diet-associated diseases are on the rise: 30-70% of EU countries are overweight, for example, and diabetes affects 5% of Luxembourg’s population,” said CEO Alberto Noronha. “But dieting is hard, and 19 out of 20 people stop before the end of the first year.” NIUM therfore aims to provide personalised dietary recommendations based on each individual’s unique metabolism. “We want to make nutrition recommendations practical.”

Protecting sensitive data

Another young start-up, ViewMind, is also addressing a very common disease: Alzheimer’s. A high proportion of Alzheimer’s patients do not get any diagnosis until the disease is quite advanced. While no cure exists, early detection is still extremely useful as actions can be taken to slow down the progression of the disease. ViewMind has developed a 10-minute eye-tracking test that allows predicting if the patient will develop Alzheimer’s within the next 10 years with an accuracy of 90%. The system is based on patented algorithms and is clinically validated.

Any type of medical data collected is, however, extremely sensitive, and applications have to respect very high standards in terms of cybersecurity and data protection. Johannes Roos, director of IT company Tuomi, shared his experience of developing highly secure hardware and software solutions for implantable medical devices. “When it concerns medical devices, you can’t just start your development, you have to think about medical regulations and certifications well in advance,” he pointed out.

Open for collaboration

The last company to provide an update of its activities  was of a different nature. Flen Health has developed over the past 20 years a full range of healing solutions for wounds. The company has been in Luxembourg since 2011. Today it has six branches across the globe and is present in over 25 countries through strategic partnerships. It has a strong focus on R&D and is market leader in many of its segments. Three years ago, in a move to further increase its product portfolio, Flen Health created a dedicated R&D and innovation centre in Luxembourg with support from the Ministry of the Economy and Luxinnovation. “This has enabled us to develop over 12 projects. Each of them is unique and cater for people with unmet needs,” emphasised Gilles Brackman, the company’s vice president of R&D.

We are very interested in collaborating with healthcare professionals and patients.

Mr Brackman pointed out that much of the company’s positive development is thanks to the Luxembourg ecosystem. “We don’t only develop our products in-house,” he said. “We have research partnerships both in Luxembourg and abroad, and are very interested in collaborating with healthcare professionals and patients.”

In fact, all the speakers shared Mr Brackman’s interest in partnerships and invited company representatives and researchers to contact them to discuss cooperation. A clear indicator of the dynamism and cohesion of Luxembourg’s healthtech sector.

Photos: © Luxinnovation / Made Creative Group

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