Surgical team in operating theatre

Testing the road to market: EDEN2020 explores exploitation possibilities through new venture, Neoptera Surgical.

May 29, 2020

EDEN2020 researcher, Dr Riccardo Secoli tests the waters of bringing the steerable catheter system to clinical practice via entrepreneurship programmes.

The EDEN2020 project has developed extensively over the years. From humble beginnings of mimicking the way a wood-wasp bends and flexes its ovipositor to reach unreachable targets with accuracy, the team are seeking out avenues to further develop the ovipositor-inspired steerable catheter system. They are hoping to advance the exploitation capabilities and real-world applications into clinical practice. However, as many researchers and clinicians would attest, researching and developing the technology is one thing, commercialising and bringing said technology to market is a different ballgame.

Imperial College London has placed a lot of resources into building programmes to help its researchers traverse this new landscape, particularly via two venture programmes, Techcelerate and MedTech SuperConnector (MTSC). Dr Riccardo Secoli of the EDEN2020 team in Imperial’s Department of Mechanical Engineering took part in these programmes to help realise EDEN2020’s exploitation capabilities. Working with EDEN2020 partners in Italy at the Università di Milano (UMIL) and Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (UniSR), and tech company, Renishaw – one of the few companies that has a neurosurgical robot – was crucial to test the system in the marketplace, and understand how to translate the catheter system into clinical practice and consumer use.

Dr Riccardo Secoli presenting new venture, Neoptera Surgical
Dr Riccardo Secoli presenting new venture, Neoptera Surgical (original image from MedTech SuperConnector website)

Dr Secoli remarks the partners “gave us a huge insight [into] the potential application of our system, which pushed [us] to start a venture to explore where the system can be used for different indications” hence exploring its efficacy around epilepsy and optical biopsy. This new venture is called Neoptera Surgical which will further develop the flexible and steerable catheter system. For EDEN2020 lead coordinator, Prof Ferdinando y Baena Rodriguez, who is Professor in Medical Robotics at Imperial, Neoptera Surgical is the next step in the EDEN2020 story and “the ideal vehicle to translate some of our most praised technological achievements to date, for the ultimate benefit of patients”, says Prof Rodriguez.

Techcelerate is an enterprise programme which simultaneously gives postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to test their ideas in the marketplace and develop entrepreneurial skills. In its first two years, the programme helped researchers make hundreds of new connections and raise more than 1.1million € to continue their ventures. Since taking part in Techcelerate, Dr Secoli has gone on to win a place on MedTech SuperConnector, a programme designed to help academics with ideas for medical advancements to get their technologies into the clinic faster. As a result of both programmes, Dr Secoli comments that “we have learned a lot on design and small details to account for a successful surgical workflow that we are looking to have a further interaction of the robotic ecosystem to deploy a pre-commercial version in the OR”.

The original story on Techcelerate and Neoptera Surgical can be found on the Techcelerate website.

This was followed by an article posted on the MedTech SuperConnector (MTSC) website.

Header photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash