More than a training course

Arno Nierich’s invention, a blood filter, was already well under development when he started the MBI Life Sciences & Health program. But “with this program, I can get my invention to the patient more quickly. You shouldn’t try to do that on your own.”

Cardiac anesthesiologist & intensivist Arno Nierich, 53, works at the Isala Hospital Zwolle, where he has been responsible for medical innovation for over two years now. One of his inventions is a blood filter with which one can purify the secretion oozing from a patient’s wound. That filtered blood is reused for the patient, thus avoiding the need to purchase expensive (and sometimes risky) donor blood.

In 2014, after a seven-year process, Nierich obtained a patent on his method and the filter was developed. That was made possible partly thanks to support from the joint European Regional Development Fund (ERDF innovation program) of the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel. “But I still didn’t really know what the best structure was for my business. I was also looking for the right ways to market my invention. The MBI Life Sciences & Health program was a tremendous help in that respect.” Nierich expects to be granted CE marking certification by mid-2015, after which he will put his invention on the European market.
Partly thanks to the program, Nierich now has two partners, an American and a Dutchman, in Medical2Market. Nierich has owned this company through which he markets his innovations for a few years now. “If you have a medical invention, start looking for the right people to help you on your way. That's my most important tip. You cannot do it on your own unless you work for a large multinational company or a university whose core activity is to valorize innovations.”

Funding is essential for a new venture, of course, adds Nierich. So he is happy that the MBI Life Sciences & Health program has tightened his bond with the Rabobank. “I now have a contact there with whom I can do business.” Nierich also praises the highly experienced coaches associated with the program, such as Bernard Mulder of Eagle Rock Life Sciences, a company that helps start-up companies grow.
During a study trip to the United States, participants of the MBI Life Sciences & Health program came in contact with Octane in California, a network in which inventors, doctors, financiers and medical companies meet and which has created a breeding ground for medical innovation. “By talking with these people, you also learn which innovations are likely to succeed. And what investors are looking for.”
The climate in the Netherlands for medical innovations is not very good in Nierich’s opinion. “We do not have an infrastructure that a network like Octane can offer, for example.” He points out that the threshold for medical innovations is high. In the Netherlands, only one in a hundred innovations ultimately reaches the patient, he says. This is because funding is often a problem. “The Dutch government is greatly lacking in this respect. But this MBI Life Sciences & Health program creates a fine platform for bringing knowledge, contacts and financiers together.” It's more than a training course, says Nierich. “I consider it an essential route towards marketing an invention quickly and properly.”