ESA BIC Bavaria incubatee Portabiles HealthCare Technologies is developing a sensor-based gait analysis system that supports physicians in optimizing the therapy they provide to patients with movement disorders. In addition is delivers objective outcomes for pharmaceutical companies testing new drugs in clinical trials and reduces the risk of falling by detecting critical declines in the gait quality of elderly people as well.
ESA BIC Manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Ralph Steidl (RS), CEO at Portabiles HealthCare Technologies GmbH.
CG: Hello Ralph, many thanks for your time. Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it?
RS: We are developing a sensor-based gait analysis system for telemedical care for patients with chronic movement disorders such as Parkinson´s, multiple sclerosis, geriatric and orthopaedic diseases. Our overall goal is to maintain the ability to walk and reduce the increased risk of falling at an older age.
We achieve this by integrating motion sensors into the patient’s shoes, which will measure the dynamics of their gait and provide clinical-grade parameters from activities during day-to-day life. These data allow therapists to adapt and optimise their therapy regime at an early stage. Our company, Portabiles HealthCare Technologies GmbH, arose from a long-standing collaboration with partners from University Hospital Erlangen and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
RS: Besides establishing a new company, it was a challenge to build up our close network of partners. It took some time for intensive dialogue to bring people together from different disciplines such as medicine, technology and industry. Our collaboration is now bearing fruit and serves as one of our biggest advantages. The next big challenge is to finalise version one of our product and have it approved as a medical device.
CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
RS: A very significant “ingredient” is our firm conviction of the business idea and that we will overcome the obstacles which will inevitably appear. Furthermore, we are working in a close and fruitful partner network with mutual benefits for all. And most important, we have colleagues on board who are motivated, capable and fun to work with.
CG: What do you expect from ESA BIC Bavaria and how did the initiative and its network help you to kick-start your business case?
RS: Startup funding from ESA BIC was the first and most important funding we received – it allowed us to get started without having too much money available. Besides the mere monetary aspect, the ESA BIC Jury where the first ones to believe in our idea – that was great motivation during the toughest phase of our foundation. It was also the first validation of our business plan.
ESA BIC Bavaria’s support even started before funding by helping us to structure and improve the business plan. The provision of office space and infrastructure helped us focus on business and Nordostpark in Nuremberg is a good place to work. The workshops offered are also very helpful.
We are also looking forward to making the most of ESA BIC’s network in the coming financing rounds and we are really pleased to receive this excellent support.
CG: How does the Fraunhofer IIS supports you?
RS: Fraunhofer IIS where the ones who told us about ESA BIC and have supported us since then. They have excellent experience in mobile sensor networks and wearable technologies and are great to work with. With their support, we expect fast, cost-effective and high-quality hardware development that allows us to easily realise new product ideas resulting from research activities.
CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in PHCT’s future?
RS: Well, if you’re asking for “stars”…: In the long run, we are aiming for international market access in telehealthcare solutions for chronic diseases – based on wearable sensor technologies. We want to merge different kinds of clinical-grade wearables to monitor the status of patients’ health while going about their day-to-day activities. That will allow therapists to help their patients maintain mobility and a high quality of life.
Did you enjoy this interview with the outstanding startup? Interested people can get into contact with Portabiles HealthCare Technologies via mail. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with ESA BIC Bavaria startups on our AZO Blog.