A team of students at Imperial College London has developed a top mattress that warns if a patient has been lying in one position for too long and is as such at risk of developing pressure ulcers and skin contusions.

Anna McGovern and Luthfun Nessa founded the start-up CaldiScope to cash in on their idea. Imperial College has named the young entrepreneurs as winners of the Venture Catalyst Challenge 2021.


Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers are a common problem in hospitals, but can also occur in home situations in people who have to lie in bed a lot and whose health is impaired.

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    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is calidiscope-weinnovate2020_1616754718676_x2-1004x685.jpg
    Young entrepreneurs Luthfun Nessa (left) and Anna McGovern (right)

    The danger is that skin first becomes red and in the next phase bursts open and becomes ulcerated. Those with diabetes, poor circulation and high old age are most at risk.

    Pressure sores can occur basically anywhere on the body, although the highest risks are around protruding bones. For example, the hips, heels, ankles, coccyx, shoulder or even the the head.


    Students McGovern and Nessa sought the solution in topper mattresses, which you place over ordinary mattresses. They filled a topper with sensors that then generate millions of bits of data about patients who suffer from pressure sores. Using machine learning (artificial intelligence), the mattress was then taught to give the nursing staff a signal that someone needs to be turned around before they start developing bedsores.

    CaldiScope is receiving £30,000 in prize money for its invention. Four other start-ups in the race that are receiving (smaller) amounts of prize money.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.