Everything is nearby for Medtech companies in Twente

Twente as a European leader in the field of medical innovation. That is the ambition. Twente aims to be a leading region in the field of medtech innovations by 2030, resulting in a 25 percent growth in medtech research, development, and production as well as double the medtech export. Twente is already known for its medtech frontrunners like Demcon, Micronit, and Benchmark. Two more promising players have recently joined: The Surgical Company and Innovation Sprint.

Photo INN'twente

Photo @Lars Smook

#nearby: that is how Twente positions itself in the global medical sector. “In Twente, everything you need for developing innovative medical technology products is nearby. Being close to the brains at the University of Twente also means being close to most of the interesting medtech start-ups and a talent pool full of physicians and biomedical technologists. Facilities such as the High Tech Factory, TechMed Center, and the soon-to-be-built MedTech Factory are also nearby. And we are also close to a complete value chain of cooperation partners with whom we can develop, certify and produce products”, says Rik Luimes, advisor new business health international at East Netherlands Development Agency Oost NL.

Oost NL, Kennispark, TechMed Center, WTC Twente, and Novel-T work together to strengthen the MedTech cluster. Oost NL helps medtech companies setting up their business in the east of the Netherlands and pays special attention to the opportunities for companies in Twente. Two of these companies are The Surgical Company (TSC) and Innovation Sprint. “TSC has opened a new production site for manufacturing heat blankets in Almelo. These blankets ensure that patients do not get hypothermia during surgery. We produced our first commercial batch at the end of 2021”, says Herbert van der Strate, COO at TSC.

Innovation Sprint combines the expertise from clinical practice with technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to improve care processes and develop personalized care solutions. Sofoklis Kyriazakos, CEO at Innovation Sprint: “We opened a lab at Kennispark Twente last summer. It focuses on the virtual coaching of patients, which gives both patients and practitioners real-time information about medication, health, and lifestyle.”

“I always hear people say that there is a great medtech ecosystem in Twente”

Sofoklis Kyriazakos, CEO of Innovation Sprint

Choosing Twente

Both companies had good reasons for choosing Twente. “I always hear people say that there is a great medtech ecosystem in Twente”, says Kyriazakos. Opening an office here in Enschede was a strategic choice because we often work together with knowledge institutions such as the University of Twente. They know a lot about behavioral change, for example, which is something we can use. We can use our solutions to advocate that people stop smoking, but how do you get them to do so? However, we do not want to just benefit from the knowledge and talent available; we also invest in the people here. With good coaching, for example. We want to create a multiplier in this medtech region by doing this.”

Van der Strate chose Twente for another reason. “We investigated various scenarios and options for setting up a production facility, and eventually decided to do this in the Netherlands. Almelo turned out to be ‘the place to be’ for us. Mainly because of the available knowledge and talented new employees. We also export globally, and we can use the local port to transport to the port of Rotterdam. That may seem like a long way in Dutch terms, but it is nothing on an international scale. In addition, this option is the most advantageous when it comes to sustainability and costs.”

Social challenges

Oost NL supports domestic and foreign companies that settle in the east of the country. Oost NL’s support consists of advice and assistance in the development of (new) businesses; business locations in the Eastern Netherlands; international trade promotion and financing. The companies that Oost NL supports all contribute to solutions for social challenges.

Kyriazakos: “Our products have a positive impact on health, thanks to technology. We believe in the power of a healthy lifestyle. That works better and is more sustainable than the ‘old’ way of doing things: simply taking medicine.”

And TSC helps prevent complications, by keeping the patient’s temperature at 37 degrees. “We have around 40 different blankets; different variants for all types of surgeries”, says Rinse Valk, branch director at TSC Almelo.

Working together

Innovation Sprint is fully committed to the digital transformation of healthcare processes and the development of personalized predictive eHealth solutions, but they cannot do this on their own. “We are a small company and we need the ecosystem to grow, develop and test our ideas. Oost NL was right beside us and connected us to other parties, even before we settled here. We now work together with researchers and hospitals. Hospitals in the area are open to innovation, which creates a very pleasant way of working. We help each other out.”

Van der Strate also emphasizes the added value of Oost NL. “I would like to meet with Oost NL again in 2022. Talking to each other creates surprising opportunities for working together and exchanging knowledge.”

MedTech Twente cluster

In the MedTech cluster, Oost NL works together with Kennispark, TechMed Center, WTC Twente, Novel-T, World Trade Centre Twente, Twente Board, the municipality of Enschede, Saxion, Vitaal Twente, Health Valley, Roessingh Research & Development, Twente Care Academy, and the province of Overijssel.


INN'twente #12