Fighting stigma with technology and connections

Novioscan makes a positive impact with its solution for one of the biggest hidden problems the world is facing: incontinence. Their story is a great example of a bright idea turning into a reality by finding skilled people to believe in your vision.

The basic idea of Novioscan’s invention is simple: avoid wet accidents by notifying the child or patient that they have to go to the bathroom or get help. Rob Tweehuysen, one of Novioscan’s co-founders, explains: “We noticed a great need for a solution like ours. We started with the objective to help young children, who don’t want to wear a diaper at school. But we learned that incontinence is a bigger societal problem, so we are working on solutions for older generations as well”, he says.

Briskr was right across the street
Novioscan started with an idea, which quickly became a real-life solution. Their location in Nijmegen, with loads of supply in terms of knowledge and chip industry, surely helped. Finding your way in that maze of possible connections is not always easy, says Rob. “Right across the street was Briskr. We needed a networking organization like them to be able to connect to others like HealthValley, OostNL, and the University. It’s an ongoing process, but it sure is nice to have a guide.”Diligent, but accurate
Novioscan’s technology works through ultrasound. A small device is placed on the abdomen, right where the bladder is. It sends sound signals inwards to receive an echo. Based on the time it takes for that echo to reach the device, it can precisely measure the amount of urine in the bladder. An invention that has changed lives, says Rob. “The problem is largely hidden, one in fifteen children has a problem with continence.”

The potential impact is not restricted to young children, as incontinence is a problem that older generations are facing as well. Novioscan is currently working on the ‘adult version’ of their product. “We are working on pilots with adults. The device needs to have the ability to measure at more points due to the various shapes of bladder that adults have, but we are confident that we’ll be able to apply our proprietary technology. Eventually, the goal is to make the product even smaller and therefore more diligent”, says Rob.

Managing continence instead of treating incontinence
Turning innovation into an actual product takes more than just a good idea. In their search for investors, Novioscan found worldwide hygiene and health company Essity, quickly after they started their mission. Axel Nordberg is a global director for digital solutions at Essity, who is the owning partner of Novioscan. He is very excited to be involved in developing Novioscan’s product. “There are 400 million people in the world with incontinence, but the problem is often underestimated, due to stigma.” Essity is one of the biggest global companies in absorbent products with a clear agenda in digital solutions. They invest in good ideas to improve the quality of life. “We develop a lot of products ourselves, and Novioscan’s solution ticked many of the boxes we look for. It comes down to this: we want to support our customers and consumers to manage continence instead of thinking about treating incontinence”, says Axel.

For a relatively young company like Novioscan, Essity proved an ideal partner, says Rob. “Thanks to Essity, we could actually take the product to the market.” Axel adds that this is very important to further develop the product to fine-tune the product. “Feedback from users gives us information about our user’s needs. People stay at home in fear of leakage, compromising their freedom. We want to hear how they are best helped by applying technology.”