New product helps new-borns with breathing difficulties

Chalmers University of Technology

A vital yet simple device in a life-changing situation – Maria Lindqvist receives the Karin Markides Innovation Award, for her role in the development of a unique product for respiratory assistance for new-borns.or respiratory assistance for new-borns. Maria Lindqvist describes receiving the award, which this year is handed out for the fifth and final time, as “fantastic and significant”.

“I was completely shocked when Karin Markides called to tell me. I am proud and honoured to be given such a prestigious award, and the fact that this is the last time it will be awarded makes it even more special.”
Helps new-borns with breathing difficulties
Maria Lindqvist receives the award for her work with the company Monivent – which she also co-founded – which has developed a product for respiratory assistance for new-borns. It all started in 2012, when she came into contact with external idea partners via the Entrepreneurship Programme together with her group.
“I was on the educational track with biotechnology, life science and so on, and wanted to be in the medical industry. For me, working with something that feels meaningful and useful is important,” says Maria Lindqvist.
Simply explained, Monivent has developed a product that helps caregivers ensure effective and gentle care of new-borns who need help with breathing at birth.
“Starting the breathing in new-borns is a manual process where the amount of air is adjusted by hand. It is important to supply enough air to give the baby oxygen, but not so much as to cause damage to the lungs and brain. Our product can show what you should actually do during the treatment, and measures airflow to show volume, pressure, ventilation frequency and if there is a leak where the mask closes to the baby’s mouth – to avoid air leaking away”.
Flexible and smart solutions
From the company’s side, it was important to find smart solutions on how to measure the flow.
“From the beginning, the idea was to simply keep track of what you do. It was then developed into a unique concept of a smart mask. We have developed a module about half the size of a matchbox, which is attached to the face mask. This needed to be flexible and wireless. All calculations take place in the module and are displayed on a screen where you get the data. The most important information is also displayed with a LED on the module itself, so that the caregiver can focus on the child,” says Maria Lindqvist.
The flexibility and wireless nature of the module were important factors in the development.
“In a stressed and complex situation, you want your equipment to be stripped down and simple – not lots of wires or cumbersome objects.”
Tested at European hospitals
In 2017, a training product was released that was used in several European hospitals for training healthcare professionals.
“This gave us important help from enthusiasts in the field who have given feedback on the clinical variant of the product. It is the same technology, but there’s a different process to get it CE-marked,” says Maria Lindqvist.
In July this year, the clinical product was released to a number of reference centres in Europe for a three-month trial period, to get a valuable user response and see if instructions need to be changed or clarified. After this, the product will be released on selected markets.
“It has been an exciting and long road to get here”, says Maria Lindqvist.
However, she cannot say too much about the future plans, as Monivent has recently been listed on the stock exchange.
“We were in the right phase for this and it has turned out well. Now we can finance, before market expansion and take advantage of the interest we have seen in the product”.
Aims to expand widely
Maria Lindqvist started as CEO of the company for four years but is now product manager and responsible for business development.
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