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Barcelona, 19 December 2016.- Catalan medical device company usMIMA has been selected by the European Union to receive €1.14 millions in funding through the Horizon 2020 program. The company was created out of d·HEALTH Barcelona - the University of Barcelona master’s degree promoted by Biocat to train health entrepreneurs– and is marketing MOWOOT, a belt-like device that imitates colon massage to alleviate chronic constipation, mainly in patients with spinal injuries and multiple sclerosis, providing a non-pharmacological, non-invasive solution without side effects.

usMIMA has been selected from among nearly 1,400 European companies to receive funding through the SME Instrument Phase 2, specifically in the category “Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well”, geared towards SMEs with a large impact on the economy and society. In the case of usMIMA, the company will use this funding to conduct an international multi-center clinical study, cut manufacturing costs and develop a new device that includes connectivity.

In this call for proposals, the European Union received 1,378 submissions, from which it selected 58 projects from 16 different countries, including four from Catalonia. "Having received funding from the European commission is a great push for MOWOOT. We hope to enter several European markets in 2017 and the North American market in 2018," highlights usMIMA CEO Markus Wilhelms.

The product, on sale through the company's website since October, is the result of collaboration between usMIMA and Institut Guttmann, as well as more than 500 patient interviews. It is a belt that connects to a small desktop device and simulates the massage techniques used by professional therapists using pneumatics and algorithms.

By simulating a manual massage, the product provides a natural solution that makes patients more independent and self-sufficient, as well as improving their quality of life, as it can be used without professional help, reducing hospital visits and the need for home help.

An estimated 8.4 million people in Spain suffer from chronic constipation, spending between €700 and €2,000 per individual per year on treatment. "Our device allows patients to cut spending in half with a one-time investment that gives them a solution in terms of autonomy and helps boost self-esteem, which is very important with these patients," stresses Wilhelms.

This funding comes on top of numerous awards and distinctions the company has already received, including the 2014 BioEmprenedorXXI Award (promoted by La Caixa, BarcelonaActiva, Barcelona City Council and Biocat); first prize in the Everis Awards, in Biotechnology and Health (2015), promoted by Everis Foundation and Everis Group; named one of the "TOP 10 innovative startups with social impact in Spain” by TEDx Binnenhof/European Commission and ENISA (2015); the "Innovative SME" seal of quality from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (2015) and the European Commission "Seal of Excellence" (2016). It was also the first and only Spanish start-up in the MassChallengeUK (MassChallenge is the largest network of business accelerators in the world).

From master to market

usMIMA was the first start-up created out of d·HEALTH Barcelona, the University of Barcelona master promoted by Biocat to train health entrepreneurs. Five start-ups were created from the six teams of fellows that graduated in the first two editions, four of which are still active.

d·HEALTH Barcelona is one of only four training programs in Europe inspired by the University of Stanford biodesign system. Following this methodology, students experience an immersion process at local hospitals to detect real unmet clinical needs “in situ” that have the potential to become new products or services. In the case of the Barcelona masters program, students look for business ideas at the city's top hospitals, such as Hospital Clinic, Sant Joan de Déu and Institut Guttmann. Over the course of the program, students experience a whole innovation cycle, from identifying a business idea to designing and prototyping a viable solution and searching for funding. At the same time, they acquire knowledge in medicine and business development, as well as design thinking and creative leadership skills, with classes with more than 70 international professors from Stanford, Kaos Pilot and Silicon Valley companies, among others.

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