Strategy Case

TTT: MedTech - Building a collaborative knowledge transfer network

We met with Dr. Roy Kolkman, Manager of the Novel-T Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO) at the University of Twente to discuss the newly funded MedTech project, which was awarded €8 million from the Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) scheme. The project was initiated by the 4TUs with UTwente as secretary. Catalyze’s Strategic Consultancy team provided support for the development of the project, before writing the funding application.

Thematic Technology Transfer: MedTech

The MedTech project won €8 million from the Ministerie van Economische Zaken en Klimaat (EZK) and Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW) to form one of three new TTT themes funded in the recent round, bringing the total number of active TTT themes to six. TTT enables researchers to take promising research ideas, validate them, and found high potential spin-off companies. Each TTT theme consists of two pillars: Pillar 1 is focused on helping researchers planning to form a spin-off company, while Pillar 2 is focused on helping recently founded spin-offs with convertible loans.

The MedTech project joins the TTT scheme with the aim of forming a powerful nation-wide collaboration between the MedTech consortium partners: the KTOs of the four technical universities of the Netherlands (4TU): TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, University of Twente, and Wageningen University and KTOs of Erasmus MC, Radboud UMC, Maastricht UMC, along with Innovation Industries, a venture capital fund. The project will run for 5 years and the €8million budget will be divided over Pillar 1 (€2.5M) and Pillar 2 (€5.5M). Through connecting and sharing their collective expertise, the MedTech consortium will act as a driving force for Dutch medical technology innovations, accelerating spin-off formation and providing convertible loans once spin-offs are established.

A collaborative knowledge transfer network

As Manager of the Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO) at Novel-T, which houses the KTO of the University of Twente, Roy Kolkman is responsible for translating the results from research to applications in the market. Novel-T focusses on stimulating new businesses, providing support to breakthrough start-ups, and SME’s alike. This means bridging the gap between the end of experiments and getting market ready.

Roy describes the role of his team: “We scout for relevant results and screen their relevance for the market, talking with potential customers to find out the needs of the market. Based on that, we either try to transfer it to industry and license it, but often we see such a huge gap between the current state of the technology and market readiness that instead a spin-off company is founded to develop it further.”

In the MedTech project, KTOs are stimulated to collaborate on the national level, allowing the sharing of input and expertise from all consortium partners.

Highlighting MedTech’s potential, Roy says, “In my team, I have one business developer for medical technology, but he will not be an expert in all area’s. With the MedTech consortium, we share the expertise of our business developers: I can grab the expertise from a business developer from Eindhoven or Delft, who is an expert in that field, and they can borrow the expertise of my business developer.”

In comparison to the other TTT themes, progressing medical technology to the market can require broader expertise.

Roy explains, “While the basic issues are the same – finding the right market and what the customer wants – to be sure the technology will be successfully implemented you have to involve all relevant stakeholders such as insurance companies, physicians and patients.”

Raising awareness, coaching, and sharing expertise

The MedTech project will serve to deliver such expertise exactly where needed, eradicating boundaries between university and university medical center KTOs nationwide. Within Pillar 1 of the MedTech TTT initiative, there are 3 key action lines: proposition development, which ensures MedTech researchers get all the required MedTech specific knowledge for development of their business case; building and sharing market knowledge, through bundling the expertise from all KTOs together with the expertise of companies and gaining deeper thematic knowledge on the business; and medical and technological crossover, integrating these disciplines and driving collaboration between universities and UMCs working together on MedTech propositions.

“At the early stage, after gathering experimental results, it is not a spin-off yet, but still just a research team.” Roy says, “Together with industry or relevant partners, we will give coaching and feedback to this ‘spin-off-in-creation’, making them aware of what they don’t know, and connecting them to the national network. With the aim of building towards a spin-off.”

Therefore, promising medical technology spin-offs will have access to the full MedTech business development network, while having an important route to the market through the partnership with medical universities and faculties.

“The crossover between technical universities and medical universities and faculties is essential. The medical university can look for examples of a technical validation inside a technical university or clinical validations can be conducted in the medical centers. We aim to have them working together more and more.”

Raising the bar for Dutch medtech

Prior to the establishment of the MedTech project, the 4TU consortium was already working together closely, but as Roy explains, based on the experiences from two other TTT programs, Smart Systems and Circular Technology.

“In these programs we go really in-depth and share the individual cases. These programs are really successful because our people are willing to cooperate.”

The MedTech program has huge potential to bring the level of medical technology developments in the Netherlands to a higher level. Roy is hoping for a lasting impact.

“We hope the MedTech project is going to build a new national way of working on the MedTech theme that continues after the project ends. And I really hope that all public universities and knowledge institutions working on MedTech will see the value of this initiative.”

With strategic support from Catalyze

In a project with not only many partners, but with much excitement about its potential, there are lots of ideas and inputs to consider. As Roy explains, having Catalyze as a strategic guide was important to create and present the project proposal.

“For this kind of procedure, all people involved give their input, but they need to come to one plan, and for that you need someone to think together with you and write it all down.”

Roy, together with Robert Al from Eindhoven and Catalyze formed the Core Team, which coordinated all feedback from partners and moved forward step-by-step, developing the content for the proposal.

Roy continues, “Where Catalyze helped us is by working out of and thinking out of the box. Coming up with new ideas, asking the right questions, and together we were able to bring the proposal to the next level.”


Catalyze is proud to have played a role in the formation of this promising and progressive project for Dutch MedTech.

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