Bambi Medical is a MedTech company from Waalre that designs, develops and manufactures medical devices for pre-term infants. The objectives of the company are to reduce pain and stress in babies and improve the parent-child bonding. Bambi Medical was founded in November 2015 by Sidarto and Fabio Bambang Oetomo. The startup takes part in this year’s High tech XL accelerator at the High Tech Campus.
Pre-term babies have to be nursed and constantly monitored from their couveuses. In order to measure the respiration and heart action, electrodes have to be stuck to the body. Through wires, the information reaches the monitor. Every two to five days the nurses have to replace the ‘patches’ that connect the wires to the baby’s body, “and that’s a stressful, but also painful event”, says Fabio Bambang Oetoma, Bambi’s CEO. Wondering if that couldn’t be done differently was the real start of the company that he and his father founded last year.
In fact, Fabio’s father, pediatrician Sidarto Bambang Utomo, who is also a professor of Industrial Design at the TU/e, had that very same question already nine years ago. It was then when Sidarto and his master student Sibrecht Bouwstra built the first prototype of the ‘Smart Jacket’.
The Smart Jacket is a jacket with electrodes in it. The “patches” therefore became superfluous, but the concept was still not right, according to Fabio. “The signals were still sent via wires to the monitor. Because of all these wires, it is not easy to remove the baby from the couveuse to the mother’s breast. This so-called ‘kangarooing’ is of great importance for the development of the baby”, says Fabio Bambang Utomo.
In order to solve this problem, a wireless version of the Smart Jacket had to come. Fabio became fascinated by the concept and set a goal to make sure his company would ensure that premature babies would have to suffer less from all these adhesive electrodes. This wireless successor to the Smart Jacket was called “Bambi-Belt”.
In order to fully concentrate on the work of his startup, Fabio quit his job at the Mars factory in Veghel last March. His father – co-founder of Bambi Medical – has an advisory role and is always present in the background. “Because of his specialised knowledge of medical care for sick babies my father can contribute a lot.”
Fabio traded the attic of his home in Waalre for a spot on the High Tech Campus, where he was chosen as one of the eight startups participating in the acceleration program High Tech XL. “The program provides opportunities for collaboration with tech companies, because I don’t have that knowledge myself. And by working full time at the Bambi-Belt, development is faster.”
Thanks to the recently added engineer, the partner companies and the input of his father, a working prototype that is almost wireless has been developed. In the heart of the Bambi-Belt multiple electrodes are placed to measure heart rate, temperature and respiration. Attaching electrodes to the skin has become superfluous.
Bambi Medical is now working on a new version in which there will be no more wires at all. The induced signals will be transmitted wirelessly to a receiving box. The box processes the signals in patterns of breathing, heart rate and temperature. Then this box sends the information to the monitor.
In addition to the prototype there is a model that shows the appearance of the future Bambi-Belt. Where the three bands come together, a cheerful animal is attached. “The Bambi-Belt has to be good for the child and make the parents smile. Therefore we have chosen animals like a monkey, a fox, a rabbit and the like.”
To make the step from an expensive prototype to a cheaper Bambi-Belt, the startup cooperates with other partners such as engineering bureau DEMCON and Holst Centre. “We do this to speed up the development. In October, we want to make the next step.”
Bambi Medical will be carrying out the first field tests at the end of this year. “With this we gain new insights and see whether the Bambi-Belt prototype product is actually as reliable as the current technology. With this feedback, we adjust the Bambi-Belt after which we want to do the clinical trials in 2017.”
These are the last tests to prove that the product is safe for babies. “Maxima Medical Centre, the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Isala Klinieken in Zwolle and MUMC + in Maastricht will participate in these trials. In addition, two hospitals in Madrid and Brest (France) are connected as well. After the clinical trials, we can start to produce the Bambi-Belt on a larger scale, and hopefully it will be marketed in 2018.”