- The coronavirus calls for new developments and innovations in medical technology
- Twente Fights Corona: entrepreneurs, talents and knowledge institutions from Twente have developed techniques and innovations to stop the global corona pandemic.
Hygiene is important to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. In addition to frequent handwashing and staying 1,5 metres apart, Twente companies are also developing innovative products to prevent people from coming into contact with bacteria and viruses. These solutions are diverse; from digital devices with a signalling function to a biological hand gel.
Hygeniq is developing a sustainable hand gel without alcohol. They developed the innovative Biosafe-hygienic hand gel; a gel without alcohol that is completely cradle-to-cradle since only renewable raw materials are used. The hand gel is based on the germicidal properties of plant extracts to produce effective antimicrobial compounds that prevent infections and have an antiseptic effect. The ingredients are safe and suitable for human use, as well as being safe for the environment and biodegradable.
Twente’s strong point has always been in textiles. There is much knowledge about the development, processing and recycling of textiles. The crisis has accelerated the development of innovative and sustainable solutions such as mouth masks and insulating aprons. Companies are working together to find ways to use textiles longer and to create usable products from discarded textiles.
TenCate Protective Fabrics develops sustainable solutions for the shortage of medical isolation gowns: many hospitals choose to use disposable medical aprons. Although these aprons provide the necessary protection for first responders, other departments do not need them as much. The aprons do not only offer them an unnecessarily high degree of protection in that case; they are also quite uncomfortable with prolonged use and cause a lot of medical waste. TenCate Protective Fabrics has developed a reusable isolation gown for medical staff that do not come into direct contact with COVID-19 patients. The apron is made from a fabric that is breathable and much more comfortable, while still performing a high degree of protection. Using these will prevent a shortage of disposable medical gowns.
Companies and institutions in Twente are flexible and agile. They can, therefore, quickly respond to the market’s acute needs caused by COVID-19, such as respiratory equipment for ICU departments. Technological changes are rapidly applied and implemented due to the knowledge and entrepreneurship available within companies, visible in the development of medical equipment.
TechMed Centre is doing everything in its power to help hospitals. The University of Twente’s Tech Med Centre has developed a technique that allows two patients to use the same ventilator. A splitter distributes the air between the patients, while smart valves and filters ensure that the air from one patient does not end up with the other. Twente company Minivalve produces these smart valves. The TechMed Centre’s solution uses as many existing tools as possible and can prevent shortages of respiratory equipment, thus saving lives.
Early detection is crucial for containing the spread of COVID-19. Twente is committed to developing innovative rapid tests. Antibodies must also be detected more quickly, and it is desirable to develop a medicine that can combat the coronavirus. Twente is strong in nanotechnology and photonics and is now using this knowledge to combat the virus.
Viralert, an initiative from Twente, focuses on cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. Companies and organisations in Twente each have their speciality, and work can be done faster and more efficiently by combining these. Not everyone for themselves but solving a social problem together: that is how we work in Twente. The “Viralert” platform is a great example: companies from Twente such as Micronit, Demcon, LioniX International and VyCAP are working together with various knowledge institutions from all over the Netherlands to develop rapid tests as quickly as possible, for pandemics both now and in the future.
Technical innovations are part of the Twente DNA. Twente uses technology to contribute to a more sustainable, healthier and safer society. Temporarily using a corona tracking app to combat COVID-19 may be a solution, but only if a large number of preconditions are met. Think of privacy, security, Dutch legislation, voluntary participation and using data only temporarily. It is also important to highlight the ethical side of progress and the use of new technologies.
A student from the ROC van Twente is working with Innovadis to create a data platform called COVIDpredict for hospitals: the software developer course from the ROC van Twente has contributed to the fight against COVID-19. Teachers and students have brought care and technology together, with support from (internship) company Innovadis from Enschede. Covidpredict.nl was developed on behalf of the Amsterdam UMC and Maastricht UMC+.
Medical specialists share data from various hospitals in the Netherlands on this platform so that they can predict the clinical course of patients with COVID-19. Ultimately, they want to find the most optimal treatment for patients with this.