Based on an invention from the oil and gas industry in the 80’s, a clever student team realized a lifelong dream through a project during their master studies. The curved Tidewave turning mattress can reduce the large problem with pressure ulcers and give patients better quality of life, at the same time make the working day for healthcare personnel a lot better.
photos: Tidewave, text: Anita Moe Larsen
In these digital times, we met up for a digital coffee with Daniela Centonze (CCO) and Bjørn Lorentzen (CEO), and learned more about their journey and exciting opportunities ahead.
It started in the 80’s when Audun Haugs, the grandfather of one of the founders of Tidewave, made a sketch based on an invention from the oil and gas industry. He developed a soft gripping tool for large but fragile objects, almost like a hand. Together with medical staff at Haukeland Hospital he realized that the technology can be turned around to develop a curved turning mattress. The first prototype at the time weighted over 25 kilos. He made sure to register a new patent. But the time wasn’t right, the world was not ready for an invention like this. When Audun Haugs passed away, the prototype went to his daughter and then to the granddaughter.
A new era was here, but the technology needed to be improved and the patent was now expired. The potential however was bigger than ever. A team, including Elen Haugs Langvik, the granddaughter, took up the invention during their master studies and built the foundation of what Tidewave is today. The company was formally established in 2017.
The team and product
The founding team is Elen Haugs Langvik, Bjørn Lorentzen and Nina Fagerheim Åmodt. One year later, Andreas Smith (CTO) and Arvid Bjerre (CPO) have been added as technical resources and until April this year they were 5 people total. Tidewave is growing further, latest hire in the management team was CCO, Daniela Centonze. We talked to her and CEO Bjørn about their growth and potential.
The product is a curved turning mattress, built to relieve pressure on patients constricted to the bed and thereby reduce the occurrences, severance and need for treatment of pressure ulcers. The mattress has been thoroughly tested and through that validated what works and what needs to be adapted and changed. The Tidewave turning mattress is a medical device class I and since October 2020 CE certified according to MDR. Since launch the product is in use in several Norwegian municipalities, institutions and available through NAV for patients living at home. Through the local production partner Westcontrol the product ensures high quality made in Norway and is distributed through Bardum all over the country.
Tidewave is now ready for the international market. Focus markets are Germany and Sweden. The industry and health systems are very different in the markets, so it was necessary to get at good understanding. “It was very helpful that Norway Health Tech had Market Access programs going, especially towards Germany, so we joined that” says Daniela. The program helped identify key opinion leaders in the market and see how the product fits into the market. “A big milestone for us this year was when we started the first international pilot test in Germany. Now we have several pilots ongoing and a new ones starting up in early 2022”, adds Bjørn.
Daniela continues: “We went to MEDICA in Düsseldorf this year, and got a lot of attention. We were approached by distributors from all over the world and it was very tempting to go everywhere where our products are needed instead of staying focused on the markets we have decided on. We will keep our focus actively on Sweden and Germany but also stay open to pursue promising opportunities that come our way. Aside from a successful trade fair, we have also been selected to receive support in reaching new markets as part of EIT Health’s Bridgehead program. The Bridgehead Global program brings us together with the world’s top incubators and accelerators (Catalysers) to plan how to access new markets quickly and decisively, tap into local networks of partners and clients, access infrastructure and understand new regulatory systems. Within this program we have selected Japan.
We are also participating in the “Global Growth Health Tech & Smart Care Singapore” from Innovation Norway.”
Getting through the regulatory needle eye – and meet the customer
The medical device market is heavily regulated, and the regulation demands vary. Being CE marked is a great benefit, it makes it easier to enter any market even if regulatory adjustments need to be made. You already have the stamp of approval from one of the more sophisticated markets in the world, the EU.
“It made a great difference when we could have physical meetings again, and actually show the product. The reactions are so positive, so much more than anticipated, and we are convinced that the mattress will be a success on international markets” says a very engaged Daniela.
Bjørn continues; “We are working on developing the best distribution strategy for the different markets. Right now, we run international projects together with distribution partners at hospitals which builds trust, and they see that there is an interest in the new market already and that makes it easier for them to invest in the project.”
The value of Networks
We asked Daniela about the importance of belonging to networks like Norway Health Tech. “We have gained a lot through the networks we are a part of, and I believe we would not be able to move as fast as we have without it. One of things we’d like to emphasize is the value of cultural and system knowledge and the seminars Norway Health Tech hosted through the market entry program. We are much better prepared when going into a market that is different from ours. Even though I am German, I needed to learn how the health market works and how different regions operate as the German health care system is very complex, says Daniela. “Having sparring partners to discuss my thoughts with gives great value.”
The two clusters, Norway Health Tech and Norwegian Smart Care Cluster, work together on several market entry program and share network, knowledge, and experience. This is of great importance to the results of market entry programs.
A year of opportunities ahead
Next year will be busy, many activities are lined up for Germany and Sweden, being the focus within Europe, and then Asia. If the pandemic allows for international travel next year, visits to Japan and Singapore are on the agenda to identify potential collaboration partners for distribution and testing, and to participate in relevant trade fairs.
“It’s a snowball effect; when one thing happens then it adds on, and more opportunities appear. I believe the network is crucial, as the knowledge and experience sharing are helping us move quicker and make less mistakes. Also, the introduction the networks enable are of great importance to accelerate” concludes Daniela
Market Entry Programs from Norway Health Tech
The Market Entry program is funded by Teknologiformidling and have enabled several companies to start their journey into Germany. The Market Entry programs are headed by Trine Radmann, who is Head of International Affairs at Norway Health Tech.
“We are proud that Norway Health Tech’s market entry programs can point to successes like Tidewave’s. Market Entry Programs with funding from Teknologiformidling have been running in Germany, United Kingdom and Japan over the past two years, although the Japan program was postponed due to the pandemic. The programs, which will continue in 2022, have all provided new opportunities for scaling and growth for the participating companies. 12 in the UK and 15 in Germany”, she says.
If you want to know more about the Market Entry Programs from Norway Health Tech, please get in touch with Trine.
*MDR – Medical Device Regulative from EU. More information from Norway’s Notified Body DNV HERE.