HydrUStent

HydrUStent

Catapulting innovative medical devices into the market

The EIT Health-supported HydrUStent  is a Portuguese start-up with the ambition to become a reference point in the field of innovative medical devices. The team has been working closely with doctors and the healthcare system to deliver innovative, biodegradable and eco-friendly services and technologies.

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Every year, around 10 million people worldwide will need a urological stent, but the majority of these cases develop a bacterial infection after the first month of implantation. This leads to the need to perform a second surgery to remove the stent. The team has first developed a biodegradable, anti-bacterial and tailor-made urethral stent that reduces the risk of bacterial infection and, consequently, the need to perform a second surgery.

Breaking out from the lab

HydrUStent was founded in 2016, from the work developed at the ICVS/3B associate laboratory (Life and Health Sciences Research Institute/Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics Research Group) from the University of Minho. The idea first came from a medical doctor (urologist), who challenged a group of scientists to develop a ureteral stent made by a biodegradable material. One of those scientists was the CEO of the company, Dr Alexandre Barros, who was developing his PhD in Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine and Stem.

The idea was very challenging and it turned into the subject of my PhD thesis. During the three years I was able to develop the first polymeric biodegradable ureteral stent. I started to apply for grants and entered some competitions. My idea was to professionalise the science and make it into something profitable. In 2015, HydrUStent project won an innovation award and in 2016 HydrUStent was born as a company.

Alexandre Barros, Co-founder, HydrUStent

The HydrUStent team is led by Dr Alexandre Barros. His research developed during the post-doctoral period brought the start-up to life. The biodegradable urethral stent was their first product from a patented biodegradable drug-eluting medical devices pipeline. The start-up has been recently certified for Research, Design, Development and Innovation of Medical Devices. 

Expanding the business

In 2019, its latest product HydrUSensor—a portable, wireless and less invasive uro-dynamic testing technology— won the EIT Health InnoStars Awards. The new technology allows long-term continuous monitoring of intra-urinary pressures.

Also that year, HydrUStent joined EIT Health at the MedtecLIVE exhibition, in Nuremberg, Germany, where the start-up team had an opportunity to network with the international medical technology community and showcase their products.

EIT Community support

HydrUStent is a great example of how the EIT Community can support bringing the research out of the lab and turn it into businesses that benefit a wider society.

Just after winning the innovation award, I applied for the EIT Health LaunchLab (in Delft). This programme was very important to validate HydrUStent idea as a product and as a company. Here I had the opportunity to conduct several interviews in hospitals (KOLs (urology field), purchase officers) and that gave me the strength and the confidence to go ahead with the project. After that, I started to look for more opportunities within EIT programs and that's when I got into Catapult program.

Alexandre Barros, Co-founder, HydrUStent

The collaboration with EIT Health continued in 2018, when the team participated in the EIT Health Catapult accelerator programme. It was a great opportunity to validate the business idea, strengthen the value proposition and team’s pitching skills. The programme also allowed the start-up to network and establish further connections with investors and health industry representatives.


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