Yesterday e52 presented the Top 10 Startups to Watch 2015. Ten very promising Eindhoven start-ups that are on the verge of exciting breakthroughs. But who’s behind these innovative companies? And what exactly do they do? Over the next couple of weeks we will give a profile of each of these ten start-ups. Today: Medimetrics
The smartest pill for the smartest km² in the smartest region. That makes sense! (According to the jury)
Medimetrics is a small international company founded four years ago by five men from different countries. All employed by Philips. Eight people now work for the Philips spin-out.
We’re talking to Suzanne Tibosch, Clinical Research Expert, and Jeff Shimizu, one of the founders and CTO, who is calling in from the United States office. Medimetrics carries out research with the ‘IntelliCap’ from two locations and is working on the development of new products.
The jury called it ‘the smartest pill’. What exactly is IntelliCap?
“The IntelliCap is an electronic capsule, made up of two parts, that you swallow. One part is the medication container into which medicine can be placed. The other part features a microcontroller, various sensors and a component that ensures that the medicine is released into the body. The capsule can measure where it is in the body and this information is transmitted to an external computer via integrated communication tools.”
For what can you use the pill?
“It is actually a remote-controlled capsule which interests two groups of people. On the one hand, we often work with pharmaceutical companies. The capsule is a valuable tool for them to research exactly what happens to their medicine after it is ingested. We can use the capsule with a computer to see where the capsule is and to decide the best moment to release the medication into the body. Smart pharmaceuticals and new devices can also be made using this unique technology. One example is the vaginal ring that Medimetrics is developing with Ligalli, which can take measurements to determine the amount of medication that should be administered. This could apply to fertility treatments and contraception methods.
On the other hand, the capsule is of value to the patients themselves. The capsule can be programmed so that it only releases medicine when it is in the right place in the gastrointestinal tract. This ensures a more effective medicine with much fewer side effects. The time of release can also be set. With Parkinson’s patients, for example, the ideal time to take medicine is about one hour before waking up, which is of course difficult, if not impossible. The IntelliCap can be taken in advance the night before and set so that the capsule releases the medicine at 6 am, for instance.”
And what happens to the pill? “The capsule leaves the body through the digestive system as normal and can be flushed away with the rest of the waste. We’re working on an IntelliCap that is completely biodegradable.”
“Every step of the certification of our products is a highlight. We work closely with international pharmaceutical companies. They take care of the medication, we take care of the technology and the device. Of course the capsule must meet very high standards before it can be used in the human body.
Another highlight was winning the Accenture Innovation Award for the High Tech Category at the end of last year. Getting recognition from the wider public is also really great.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
“The real innovation only takes place by talking with partners. We put a lot of time into listening to pharmaceutical companies, patients, doctors and nurses. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will work with the remote-controlled pill.”
“We are really looking forward to the further development of the IntelliCap to give additional measurements in the large and small intestines. We are now working on getting the capsule to absorb small amounts of fluid from the intestinal contents. In this way you can see how the intestinal flora looks. And this isn’t just for the use of medication. You can also use it to study the effect of diet on the intestines.”
How are you finding Eindhoven?
“The High Tech Campus is a very inspiring environment for us,” says Shimizu. The American works mainly from the Briarcliff Manor office in New York, but regularly flies to Amsterdam and takes the train down to Eindhoven. Not only is most of the team located in Eindhoven, but a large part of the production takes place here. The smart pills are now made in one of the former Philips premises on Strijp-S. “We keep the Philips legacy alive”, laughs Shimizu on the other end of the line.
Team: Jeff Shimizu, Thomas Frischmuth, Olaf Weiner, Klaas Kerkhof, Christoph Wanke, Ventzeslav Iordanov, Suzanne Tibosch, Désirée van den Bosch
In the photo: Klaas Kerkhof, Désirée van den Bosch, Ventzeslav Iordanov and Suzanne Tibosch