In this video, HvA researchers Ben Kröse and Margriet Pol share how their practice-based research project led to the rehabilitation support product Hipper and the establishment of the first HvA spin-off Hipper Therapeutics BV
Development and Impact practice-based research | product development | exploitation plan | impact | knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship | From researcher to entrepreneurial researcher
Hipper is an innovative treatment protocol in which coaching and sensor technology are used in rehabilitation programs after hip replacement surgery. It offers rehabilitators and care providers an objective insight into the progress of the rehabilitation in the living environment. This means that care providers can better guide and monitor the rehabilitation. With Hipper, recovery is faster and there are fewer relapses (and readmissions) of patients.
Hipper and the establishment of spin-off Hipper Therapeutics BV are the result of a research project by the HvA Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industry (FDMCI) and the Faculty of Health (FG), in collaboration with the Amsterdam University Medical Center (Amsterdam UMC>AMC). Both in the research phase and during the test phase of the Hipper product, they collaborated with healthcare professionals and rehabilitation patients from various healthcare organizations for geriatric rehabilitation in North Holland. At an early stage (in 2013), they provided the practice-based question that formed the starting point for the research question: ‘how can we care providers (physiotherapists and occupational therapists) gain insight into the progress of and stimulate further rehabilitation at home after a hip fracture? ‘
Students and researchers from the HvA joined forces to come up with a solution to that question. In projects at the DMCI Faculty, a system was developed to remotely monitor the exercise activities of the rehabilitants. At the same time, a treatment protocol was developed at the Faculty of Health in which this data and activity registration could be used in coaching the target group.
In a practice-based study conducted by the Amsterdam UMC location AMC and the HvA, the effectiveness of this way of working was studied at the partner healthcare organizations. The results were positive: using Hipper, daily functioning was significantly better after six months than without Hipper. Based on these results, various healthcare organizations started investigating in pilots how they could integrate Hipper into their rehabilitation programs and within their regular care provision.
Getting the Hipper product onto the market was not without obstacles. It turned out to be more difficult than expected to find a commercial party that could market the Hipper technology. Despite the fact that companies active in the field of healthcare products were interested, this did not materialize in a collaboration. The partner healthcare institutions, on the other hand, lacked the knowledge and capacity to become product owners themselves. The collaboration with a student team from the HvA Minor in Entrepreneurship enabled the product to be further developed, but did not lead to a start-up. Convinced of the added value of the Hipper technology, researchers Ben Kröse and Margriet Pol finally decided to start their own business. Together with their original social partners, they saw that Hipper could make a difference during rehabilitation. After the decision to start their own business, the researchers drew up a business plan with the help of IXA, based on needs of the healthcare sector, and an external business developer was recruited with a financial contribution from the HvA Impact Fund. A feasibility study showed that there is a place in the market for HipperTX. With the award of a KIEM subsidy, the application for NEN7150 certification, an ‘information security in healthcare’ protocol, followed. To enable healthcare professionals to provide optimally from Hipper, an accredited post-HBO course has been developed. During which care providers learn how they can coach and motivate rehabilitative patients with Hipper to continue their rehabilitation process at home. In 2021, the first HvA spin-off, Hipper Therapeutics BV, was established with all partners involved and HvA Ventures Holding.
The team behind Hipper will further refine the method and technology by developing new features and different applications for other healthcare areas. The ambition is to use Hipper technology in rehabilitation processes of, for example, long-covid patients, after a stroke, COPD patients. The collaboration with the Amsterdam UMC>AMC team in this, continues.
You can only achieve results by working together; with the knowledge institution and external (social) partners from the professional field. But to help research results towards an application, you as a researcher also need a more entrepreneurial attitude. For entrepreneurs with a knowledge-intensive company, it helps to realize that a product is never ready and that research remains necessary. Finally, an important key to success lies in the composition of the team that will bring the knowledge or research results to an application. A professional and diverse team of researchers, entrepreneurs and product developers who together have a good eye for the needs of the customer, that is what leads to results.
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