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Oxygen therapy from Flanders strikes international deal

Based in Antwerp (Flanders), medtech scale-up Oxypoint specializes in oxygen therapy solutions. Thanks to a recent deal with German medical gases leader Linde, the company has now gained access to six European countries. Oxypoint was founded in 2011 as a University of Antwerp spin-off. Its founders – bio-engineer Philip Hendrickx and oxygen therapy specialist Dirk Borgonjon – started the business in order to respond to the enormous waste of oxygen in hospitals.

Oxygen therapy from Flanders strikes international deal

Efficient oxygen supply

“Administering oxygen is a basic nursing treatment,” says Hendrickx. “With such a therapy, oxygen is pumped through nasal tube to provide a constant flow to the patient. If patients do not breathe in, or if they exhale or take off their oxygen masks, the oxygen is lost into the environment. Moreover, because of the constant supply of oxygen, patients quickly get dehydrated noses, nosebleeds and scabs. With our technology, however, oxygen is only administered when the patient inhales.”

The technology and accompanying devices, for which the entrepreneurs raised EUR 3.8 million in a first capital round from Flanders’ investment fund PMV in 2018, have been finalized for some time now. Around 3,000 O2Comfort devices are already in use in thirty hospitals, mainly in Flanders. Thanks to the new contract with German company Linde, the market for O2Comfort is bound to grow.

Boosting sales

Linde became the largest medical gases company in the world as a result of its merger with the American company Praxair. Linde will distribute O2Comfort tech to its customers in six European countries: Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. More countries or other continents may later be added to that list. “As soon as the contract is complete, we expect our sales to increase considerably. By comparison, there are 122 hospitals in Flanders and Brussels and about 2,000 in Germany,” Philip Hendrickx points out.

Innovation never sleeps

But the innovative story of the Antwerp-based scale-up doesn’t end there. During the installation of the company’s first product in the nursing departments, Oxypoint executives were often asked whether the device could also measure respiratory rate. Hendrickx: “That’s important, because the conditions of COVID-19 patients can be evaluated more efficiently based on their breathing rhythm. Some patients don’t appear very ill at first glance but then turn out to have very low blood oxygen levels and increased respiratory rates. These indicators are easy to measure.”

That’s why the Oxypoint engineers started expanding on the existing O2Comfort technology. The result is a combination of wearables, sensors and a digital platform connected via Bluetooth to the electronic patient record system while registering six vital parameters: respiratory rate, body temperature, heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and consciousness. A similar critical system already existed for use in intensive care units, but Oxypoint’s newly developed O2Mate provides a more accessible digital platform that can be used in other hospital departments as well.

International commercialization

“This offers two advantages: time savings for nursing staff and a continuous data flow over a longer period of time,” Hendrickx explains. “Traditionally, nurses have to measure, write down and interpret those six vital parameters at regular intervals. With our digital technology, this can be done automatically, day and night. As a result, healthcare providers can monitor a patient’s condition constantly and even remotely. This allows them to adjust the oxygen therapy instantly based on real-time insights, which is safer and more efficient in the care of COVID-19 patients, for example.”

After Oxypoint’s O2Mate was recently CE certified, it’s full steam ahead toward commercialization of the platform. “Talks with hospitals and companies are in full swing,” Hendrickx adds. “There is a lot of interest, but it is still too early to announce deals.”

More info

Reported by
De Tijd website
22 September 2020

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