Swiss Medtech Award 2018: An armband sensor to help women conceive

Ava AG wins the Swiss Medtech Award at Swiss Medtech Day 2018

F.l.: Jury chairman Prof. Mirko Meboldt of ETH Zürich, Rubino Mordasini, Past President Swiss Medtech, moderator Jessica Herschkowitz, Philipp Tholen, CO-FOUNDER, VP Product & Operations, Ava, and Peter Stein, CO-FOUNDER, VP F&E, Ava. Photo: Peter Mosimann

One of the highlights of Swiss Medtech Day – which was organised by the Swiss medical technology association and Innosuisse (formerly CTI) – is the presentation of the award for outstanding achievements in medical technology. A jury of four selected three nominees from a total of 25 applicants and, in the end, chose the Zurich start-up Ava for the first prize which was endowed with CHF 50,000.

Ava’s Fertility Tracker helps women who want to become pregnant. The wristband sensor measures body temperature and eight other physiological parameters (such as respiratory or heart rate) at night, and uses algorithms to determine the five fertile days in real time. Every morning the data is sent via smartphone app to the Ava server for evaluation. Clinical studies at the University Hospital Zurich and various other clinics have proven an 89% accuracy in the detection of fertile days. The user-friendly product is already successful in the US and Europe and over 15 new pregnancies are registered every day thanks to the new technology. The tracker enables women not only to get to know their cycle, but also to interpret specific symptoms and monitor their general health. "Our vision is to offer products that accompany women through their entire reproductive lifetime." explains Peter Stein, Ava co-founder and Head of R&D. For this purpose, the start-up is developing further solutions geared towards birth control, early detection of causes of infertility or complications during pregnancy. The products provide non-hormonal contraception, early infertility detection (ex. from polycystic ovarian syndrome) and the identification of complications during pregnancy and symptoms experienced during menopause.

Convincing business model

In addition to the benefits of the applications and their market potential, the jury also assessed entrepreneurial performance. Jury chairman Prof. Mirko Meboldt of ETH Zurich explained the choice of the award winner as follows «We were impressed by how Ava’s medical device facilitates specific evaluations based on many parameters and a large range of data, as well as how the company is expanding its technology platform with additional products. In addition, the start-up has managed to generate considerable growth in a short time thanks to its ingenious business model.» The facts speak for themselves: Founded in 2014, Ava has already created more than 45 jobs at its Zurich headquarters and plans to add an additional 20 positions by the end of the year. In addition, the high flyer has branch offices in San Francisco and Belgrade and plans to open an office in Asia later in 2018. More information

Laboratory tests in the patient’s home

As with Ava, another award nominee BÜHLMANN Laboratories AG’s solution is based on e-Health and the evaluation of data. Founded in 1976, the company has developed a smartphone-supported rapid test. Using «IBDoc®», patients with chronic bowel disease can measure the Calprotectin biomarker for the first time at home, monitor the course of inflammation efficiently and, if necessary, arrange therapy with the doctor to prevent a relapse. Compared to laboratory analyses the home test delivers results within 15 minutes – providing a much faster option. The application combines various innovative components such as a sealed extraction tube for the stool sample and an app for the correct photographic capture of the test cassette. The easy-to-use product is currently utilised by 2,000 people worldwide. More information

Artificial heart valve could help millions of children

«Vital» is the innovation of Xeltis AG. Born in year 2000 from a spin-off of the University of Zurich, the company has developed an artificial heart valve that stimulates the body to rebuild a replacement of its own. The implant is gradually absorbed while the tissue is being restored. On the one hand, the material consists of supramolecular polymers, researched by a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry who continues to advise Xeltis today. On the other hand, the company uses a patented electrospin procedure to process the heart valve components. Millions of affected children could be helped thanks to this new method. Clinical trials have already successfully implanted pulmonary valves in 12 young patients in Europe and Asia. The results are winning the confidence of heart surgeons worldwide. The company – with a second seat in the Netherlands – is planning to launch the product on the Swiss market in 2021. More information

Reducing costs with efficient medical products

As the three examples impressively demonstrate, new technologies and modern medtech methods improve both quality and efficiency in healthcare. Over the course of a patient’s lifetime, Xeltis’ therapeutic approach saves millions of dollars in intervention, post-treatment and examinations costs. The Bühlmann rapid test eliminates unnecessary doctor visits and endoscopy treatments which – according to one study – amounts to potential savings of around € 1,000 per patient per year. Continuous monitoring of pregnancies with the Ava fertility tracker also helps make additional examinations superfluous. Finally, by creating jobs, all three companies also contribute valuably to the Swiss workplace in general.

Science Slam, Presentations and Breakout Sessions

Further highlights at Swiss Medtech Day were the 39 poster exhibitions – under the patronage of Innosuisse – which introduced innovative medtech research projects. Eight teams also presented their new products in a Science Slam lightning round, and the winner, «Credentis», was selected by conference attendees. Last but not least, Marco Gadola CEO Straumann Group, described his company’s spectacular journey from crisis to world market leader.  As keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Andréa Belliger of the Institute for Communication and Leadership IKF, addressed the urgency of digital transformation for companies and further industry-specific questions were discussed at six breakout sessions. This year’s topics ranged from innovation support for start-ups and SMEs to collaboration models for the implementation of the two new EU regulations on medical devices (MDR) and in vitro diagnostics (IVDR). With over 500 participants, the third annual Swiss Medtech Day constitutes the largest national platform for industry, trade, research and start-ups in the medtech industry.

Swiss Medtech represents more than 750 members in its role as industry association for Swiss medical technology. With 67,500 employees and a contribution of 11.5% to the positive trade balance, medical technology is an economically significant sector in Switzerland. Swiss Medtech advocates for conditions that enable the medtech industry to perform at peak capacity and provide first-class medical care.