VentriJect, a Danish start-up seeking to revolutionise the way cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is measured, won the second-place award at the Healthcare Innovation World Cup earlier this month for its innovation that enables CRF to be estimated without the need for exercise and in less than three minutes.
Over 300 of the most innovative global healthcare start-ups applied for the awards, now in their 15th year, with judges shortlisting only 12 for a live pitching final at MEDICA, the world’s largest event for the medical sector, on 13 November in Düsseldorf. Judges evaluated pitches using criteria including the level of innovation, technological feasibility and commercial potential.
VentriJect have developed a sensor device, called Seismofit, and an algorithm to revolutionise the measurement of CRF. The human heart has a unique signature relating to the opening and closing of heart valves; the device works by measuring the vibrations of the heart against the chest wall, using a technique called seismocardiography. The Seismofit device transmits this signal to a smartphone app, which uses a cloud-based algorithm to analyse the signal and estimate the level of CRF.
CRF has been understood for many decades, but it is only in recent years that the scale of its importance when it comes to assessing overall health has become recognised and acknowledged. In 2016, the American Heart Association made the case for including CRF measurements in routine clinical practice as a way of optimising patient management.
Research in the field is constantly being updated and there is now evidence CRF plays a role in predicting mortality, with some researchers identifying an association between CRF and cancer.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is measured by quantifying an individual’s VO2-max – the maximal rate of oxygen consumption, determined until exhaustion. This is traditionally measured by ergometer cycling or treadmill running and has been considered the gold standard method to date. However, this technique can take over 20 minutes to conduct and requires the monitoring of respiratory gases via a mask, making it unsuitable for children, the elderly or those with an injury or disability.
Judges were so impressed with VentriJect’s innovation because it does not require patients to exercise to produce an accurate measurement and therefore is suitable for everyone. It can be conducted in less than three minutes with patients lying in the supine position, is cost effective and does not require specialist training to use.
Mikkel Kristiansen, CEO at VentriJect, said: “Coming second place in this hugely competitive field is recognition of the innovation behind our technology but also the huge commercial potential it has. Our ambition is to make cardiorespiratory fitness part of everyone’s health assessment, so the whole team is thrilled with this result. We are already selling Seismofit in the UK, Germany and Denmark and we expect adoption to accelerate in 2024.
“The evidence for the importance of CRF is now widely published in peer reviewed journals but the barriers to measuring it have been practicality and cost. Seismofit solves both of these problems, which is helping us to make significant progress across EU markets. Our decision to exhibit at MEDICA was the right one – the reaction has been phenomenal and exceeded all our expectations.”