Following the first Joint Call for HealthTech projects launched on 1 April 2021 to companies and research and healthcare organisations, four projects have been selected among the eight submitted. The selection process, which took place in two phases, covered 17 expressions of interest.
The joint call for projects launched by the Ministry of the Economy, the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and Luxinnovation focused on the use of digital tools and the power of data analysis to improve the prevention, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases.
It was aimed at stimulating collaborative R&D projects in the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and to provide financial support to companies and research and healthcare organisations that collaborate to assess the relevance of a technology/product/healthcare solution, its technological advantages and benefits for human health.
This is the first time in Luxembourg that such an initiative has been launched jointly by the Ministry of the Economy, the Luxembourg National Research Fund and Luxinnovation.
The four PPP projects selected are:
- ViewMind, in partnership with the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)
- IEE, in partnership with LIH and the Centre hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL)
- LuxAI, in partnership with LIH
- Meracle Health in partnership with LIH and CHL
The total budget for these four projects is estimated at 6.10 million euros. An overall co-financing of some 4.5 million euros comes from the Ministry of the Economy and the FNR, covering almost 75% of the total amount of the projects.
The overall contribution of the Luxembourg National Research Fund is 2.8 million euros and that of the Ministry of the Economy 1.75 million euros. The remaining costs are covered by the companies' or research organisations' own funds.
Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, commented: "This joint call for projects is part of the economic diversification strategy to further develop the health technology sector which is driven by innovation, resilience and competitiveness."
Such calls for projects in the field of health technologies facilitate companies' access to hospital or public research partnerships. This provides them with the opportunity to technically and clinically validate their medical products at the prototype stage, before envisaging a market launch.
This approach has the double advantage of speeding up companies' development of products that are better adapted to patients' needs, and also of making it possible for patients and health professionals to benefit earlier from the latest medical innovations, even before they are available on the market, which is in their interest.
For the Joint Call HealthTech, a structured selection process was followed, starting with the launch of the platform managed by Luxinnovation (https://www.research-collaboration.lu/) through which interested companies could be put in touch with potential partners.
The Joint Call HealthTech also allowed the team of the Pharmacy and Medicines Division of the Health Directorate to prepare the implementation of a regulatory framework conducive to business-led innovation in Luxembourg. This will speed up access for Luxembourg patients to innovative, safe and effective digital health medical devices, which is one of the strategic objectives of the future Luxembourg Agency for Medicines and Health Products.
The projects submitted were then subject to an in-depth examination by the funding authorities. Firstly, by an independent panel of experts, under the aegis of the FNR, which assessed the innovative quality of the projects in relation to international standards. Secondly, by the Advisory Commission on State Aid, under the aegis of the Ministry of the Economy, which validated the consistency of the projects with the criteria for state aid for development and innovation. Experts from the Health Directorate gave their opinion during the two deliberations.
"FNR's strategy is to promote collaboration between public research institutions, companies and health sector stakeholders around research and innovation projects aimed at accelerating the digital transformation in the health sector", explains Marc Schiltz, CEO of the FNR.
"Within the context of these public-private partnerships, the Luxinnovation team focuses especially on following up the project ideas submitted. In particular, we work on bringing together the various public and private partners interested in participating. In this way, we are activating a key lever for innovation in our country", adds Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation.
In view of the success of this first call for projects, it is planned to launch other similar joint calls, notably in the fields of defence and high-performance computing, as well as a new call for health technologies.
Summary of co-funded projects
ViewMind (in partnership with LIH)
ViewMind is an Argentine company that graduated from the Fit 4 Start acceleration programme (managed by Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy). Its "DigiCog" project aims to clinically validate a non-invasive technology based on artificial intelligence for neurocognitive assessments based on eye tracking of movements in response to visual stimuli. The objective is to identify which patients among those suffering from long-covid syndrome have neurocognitive deficiencies.
Budget: 1.360 million euros
IEE (in partnership with LIH and CHL)
IEE is originally a world leader in the field of detection and safety systems in the automotive sector. The company is diversifying into the medical sector. Its "GAIT & Activity Monitoring Solution for Patients with Orthopaedic Conditions" project, which will be carried out in collaboration with LIH and CHL, seeks to validate a wearable device for the day-to-day monitoring of patients suffering from orthopaedic conditions (musculoskeletal injuries, osteoarthritis, ligament operations, etc.) in real-life conditions before, during and after their rehabilitation period.
Budget: 1.529 million euros
LuxAI (in partnership with the LIH)
LuxAI is a spin-off of the University of Luxembourg, which graduated from the Fit 4 Start acceleration programme. The company has developed a social robot, "QTrobot", to support home therapy for autistic children. The research project focuses on the validation of an early intervention delivered by this robot as a new digital therapeutic approach based on specific teaching, training and evaluation modules. To validate the clinical effectiveness of the solution, LuxAI and LIH will conduct a large-scale, long-term, multinational clinical study. In addition, a new software module will be developed to evaluate the interaction data collected by the robot during therapy sessions.
Budget: 1.868 million euros
Meracle Health (in partnership with LIH and CHL)
Meracle Health is a spin-off from the National University of Singapore and a graduate of the Fit 4 Start accelerator programme. It has developed "Whizz", an intuitive solution to improve the daily management of chronic respiratory conditions. The clinical validation project, carried out with LIH and CHL, will pave the way for the European certification of the device and will also advance the scientific understanding of asthma.
Budget: 1.346 million euros
Press release by the Ministry of the Economy, the National Research Fund (FNR) and Luxinnovation