Tidewave AS – a smart turning mattress for the health sector

In 2017, when the Tidewave project was awarded STUD-ENT funding, the team consisted of Elen Haugs Langvik (26), Bjørn Lorentzen (25), Nina Fagerheim Åmodt (27), Andreas Smith (27), Tone Haugs (61) and Espen Breivik (25). The project is affiliated with the University of Stavanger.

Elen Haugs Langvik has many years of experience working in nursing homes and in home nursing care. Langvik, Nina Fagerheim Åmodt and Bjørn Lorentzen all participated in an entrepreneurship programme in Boston during the summer 2016. Lorentzen has previously started two student enterprises. Andreas Smith took part in the Formula Student Team at the University of Stavanger when he was a student, and was a product developer in designing a race car for the Ion Racing project. Tone Haugs is a physiotherapist who holds a cand.polit. in Health and Social Policy. Espen Breivik is a law student and provides legal advice.

What is the customer problem and how can it be solved?

Patients with reduced mobility can stiffen in the same position during the night, becoming prone to serious pressure ulcers due to a lack of regular movement. The main causes of reduced mobility are aging and neurological disorders. The current solution is for health personnel to turn patients manually. This can be painful for patients, it is time-consuming, involves heavy lifting for health personnel and is very resource-intensive for health institutions. Moreover, patients are not repositioned often enough. Our solution is Tidewave, a smart turning mattress that provides customised, regular movement throughout the night, satisfying individual patient needs and reducing the need for heavy lifting by health personnel.

Why did you choose entrepreneurship and Tidewave?

Entrepreneurship is driven by a desire to add value to society and a passion for innovation and pioneering technology. Many problems can be solved by integrating existing technologies to create smart products. That is exactly what we want to do with Tidewave. And the desire to help people and to contribute to solving a global challenge has also been a strong motivation.

What will support from the Research Council mean for you?

The support from the Research Council will significantly speed up the commercialisation process for a product with such an extensive reach, and greatly increase its chances of success. It allows the members of our team to dedicate themselves wholly to the project for at least one year and to clarify the next step in the commercialisation process during that time.

What knowledge does the project build on and how is the UiS involved?

This project is based on previous research on treating pressure sores, interdisciplinary technology and acquired market knowledge. Needs-driven innovation is a key element of our company’s activities and we have been in ongoing dialogue with prospective users to gain a thorough understanding of the problem. Over the last academic year we visited a number of nursing homes, met with decision-makers in the health sector, spoke with potential users and held brainstorming workshops with suppliers and manufacturers of medical assistive equipment. We have considered an untraditional combination of technologies from different subject fields, for example via a technology transfer project under the direction of Norway Pumps & Pipes.

The University of Stavanger has provided access to laboratories and technical guidance for prototype development. The Faculty of Health Sciences will maintain a key role throughout by including Tidewave in its laboratory training for nursing students, which will provide us with input from the field over the course of the product’s development. The plan is to be able to place the prototype in a nursing home during a training period in order to include users early in the development phase.

What did you think about the application process?

We found all the information we received about the application process to be very helpful, both from the information meeting organised by the university and in the application documents themselves. In addition, it was very useful to have a contact person at the Research Council who could help to answer questions on issues pertaining specifically to us. It was terrific to have such good access to a valuable resource like that.

The actual task of writing the grant application was time-consuming, but we were prepared for that. We followed the application guidelines closely to ensure we included everything of relevance. We received excellent feedback on the content of our proposal, and recommend that future applicants study the assessment criteria and the text of the call for proposals closely and consult them continually as they write their applications. This is a process that entails a lot of revision and editing, and the application guidelines are extremely helpful.

The panel assessment was a very supportive experience. We were surprised by how positive the feedback we received was, as we are more used to being grilled during feedback and question rounds. The small amount of criticism we received was constructive and useful and we are incorporating it as we move forward. The questions were insightful and transparent, and that helped us to clarify relevant information the panel members wanted to know. In our conversations with the Research Council and the referee panel (and during the grant application process) we were encouraged to be honest and realistic so as not to present exaggerated sales figures and shortest possible timelines. This was particularly helpful. We recommend that future applicants rehearse answering the questions they expect to face. Most start-ups have certain weak/critical points that will be highlighted, in addition to classic points such as competitive situation and market entry. Give honest and realistic answers. And remember you are allowed not to know the answer to everything.

The feedback we received was very positive so there were no drastic changes to make in that regard, but it still helped us to identify what we needed to clarify and, perhaps, examine more closely such as an IPR strategy. With this in mind, we have subsequently spent time exploring the patent landscape within our market to identify potential competitive advantages we were previously unaware of or potential threats related to our preliminary strategy.