SportMed was founded in Germany 18 years ago and started out as software developer for different manufacturers. In 2009, the company decided to create its first own product: a digital system for assessing muscular mobility and range of motion.
“A number of health assessment tools were already available at the time, but we realised that they were lacking the crucial dimension of mobility,” remembers SportMed co-founder Jessica Berner Egen. “Physiotherapists had to rely on old-fashioned, analogue tools. We saw a clear need for more modern, digital assessment instruments.”
A platform for assessments
The company launched its first product, mobee fit, on the fitness market in 2012. It was followed a year later by a medical solution named mobee med. Both products consist of a portable measuring device equipped with sensors that gauge the patient’s range of movement and a software module that evaluates the measurements and gives recommendations based on the results. “Our products are mainly used by clients who are working in different fields related to health prevention – health management, corporate health, health counselling and so on – and by physiotherapists and some medical doctors.”
However, clients wished to have a comprehensive solution allowing them to do different types of assessments without having to change software and input person data several times. “This inspired us to develop a global platform, mobee 360. It integrates a number of additional topics, such as body analysis, life style risk factors, spinal assessment, core strength and stress regulation,” says Ms Berner Egen. At the same time, the company decided to relocate its headquarters to Luxembourg.
mobee 360 was well received, but clients were interested in having yet another module that would help them work with senior citizens. “Retirement, and the move to residential care, are two points in life that have a huge impact on mobility. Studies show that during the first year in a senior care institution, most people reduce their mobility by 70%. There is therefore a great need for solutions that can support seniors with keeping active and mobile,” Ms Berner Egen explains.
The support we received from Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy was simply incredible.
As the development of a specialised product would require a considerable amount of R&D, SportMed decided to apply for a national subsidy. With the help of Luxinnovation, the company designed its R&D project and prepared a thorough grant application.
The grant request was approved, and the project started in 2017. “The support we received from Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy was simply incredible. The ministry required some additional information during the application process, but their approach was really constructive and you could feel that their objective was to have an outcome that would be useful both for us and for them.”
SportMed worked with a scientific partner, the German institute for prevention and rehabilitation (Institut für Prävention und Nachsorge), which provided an analysis of all currently available assessments and scientific advice on what recommendations should be given based on different assessment results. With this input as a basis, the company designed its new product mobee care.
It includes four tests that are crucial for the mobility and independence of elderly people: strength, endurance, coordination and range of mobility. These factors are assessed through scientifically validated tests.
The R&D subsidy was absolutely crucial for us,
“The R&D subsidy was absolutely crucial for us,” Ms Berner Egen confirms. “Without this support, we would maybe have developed a simple software solution offering a couple of tests for seniors, but definitely not the holistic solution with a scientific base that we have today.”
mobee care can be used by fitness studios to cater for their senior clients, as well as by residential care facilities. Well aware that many senior homes face staff shortages and tight schedules, SportMed has developed pragmatic recommendations that can easily be integrated into everyday activities, such as standing on your toes while brushing your teeth. “Our goal is to motivate senior citizens to do simple things that will have a positive impact on their health,” says Ms Berner Egen.
Towards a market launch
SportMed intends to launch mobee care on the market in approximately a year’s time. Before the release, the solution will be piloted in a senior care institution run by the Luxembourgish Red Cross. The company has also found another potential partner through a Luxinnovation event.
“When participating in a conference organised by the Luxembourg HealthTech Cluster a few months ago, we got in contact with the Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST),” says Ms Berner Egen. “LIST has developed a nutrition solution for seniors. The topics of nutrition and mobility go well together and could be very interesting for our customers. Their project will finish at the same time as ours, so we are now looking into whether we can market the two solutions together on the German market.”
Photo credit: SportMed