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Health improvement by the heartbeat

Employeneurship is more than just a way of working. It stimulates engineers to take the lead in their own career by undertaking initiatives and by going off the beaten track. Exactly what Senior Product Designer Frank Nijsten did when he joined the team of MedTech start up Hugsy. Being passionate and willing to share his expertise, Frank spends several hours per week co-developing an innovative solution for health improvement of premature babies.

Frank started his career as a TMC Employeneur in 2013 and has been working since on several medical-technical projects. Currently he’s working on the development of pain relief products at Philips, next to his activities as a Lead Designer at Hugsy. 

This experience plus my passion to help people are basically the reasons why I wanted to join the team of MedTech start up Hugsy. Unique about this project is the fact that Hugsy was originally developed by four young students at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). During a school project they came up with an innovative solution to improve the health of premature babies by ‘simulating’ the parent’s embrace and make it lasts longer. They based their idea on the knowledge that babies – prematurely and healthy born – develop best when they are safe and sound in the arms of their parents. This is also known as kangaroo care. The students combined the most important features of the parent’s presence, such as warmth, smell and heartbeat in a unique product: a smart and caring baby blanket.”


From school project to real business  

What once started as a school project became a real business when co-founders Sylvie Claes and Jody van den Tillaart decided to develop the Hugsy blanket into a market-ready product. To accomplish this, they searched for a multidisciplinary team of several engineers who were willing to share their knowledge and experience for the development and designing of this medical device. “We work closely with FRANS Prototyping and several young students and engineers to make Hugsy ready for manufacturing,” Sylvie explains. “Also we are very happy with the guidance and expertise Frank Nijsten offers us. Together we make a great team. The combination of the different backgrounds and experiences enables us to develop the Hugsy blanket into a market-ready product. We work on this during meetings and brainstorm sessions in which we also define the technical and aesthetic characteristics.”


The perfect combination between a medical and caring product

Although the final Hugsy module is still in the development and testing phase, the deadline for market introduction beginning 2018 has already been set. “The first clinical test at the neonatal intensive care unit at Máxima Medisch Centrum has shown very promising results”, Jody tells. “Both nurses and parents are enthusiastic about using our blanket. We are currently improving Hugsy to make it more user friendly, based on the feedback we collected during this first trial. Besides that, we still need to make some final decisions about for instance the best options for charging the product and recording the heartbeat in a comfortable way. We are also brainstorming about the aesthetic details. We want the Hugsy blanket to be a perfect combination between a medical and caring product. Both the technical functions as well as the design must answer this.”



The success of co-creation

Frank tells that it’s very fulfilling to see the product getting more and more in a final stage. “This is due to the success of our co-creation, meaning we complete and strengthen our insights. It makes me proud to be part of the innovative development that helps our newborns grow healthy. With this project I hope to inspire my TMC colleagues to do the same and expand their entrepreneurial skills to contribute to the solution of health problems in the world.”

“It makes me proud to be part of the innovative development that helps our newborns grow healthy.”
Co-creation session


Interested to invest in this great initiative? Take a look at Hugsy's Leapfunder page: https://www.leapfunder.com


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