New battery solution for X-ray equipment
RISE has assisted med-tech company Solutions for Tomorrow in developing and verifying a unique battery system for use in their mobile X-ray equipment. There are now 80 systems in use at hospitals in 17 countries and this small company from Småland in Sweden is fighting for market share with giants such as Siemens, Philips and Samsung.
Solutions for Tomorrow began life in 2011 in tiny Väckelsång, a village between the towns of Tingsryd and Växjö. It is also here that production has taken place since 2016. Today, the company has 15 full-time employees and is about to recruit four more.
Founders Jan Bååt, Martin Yngvesson and Mattias Guldstrand all have backgrounds in the medical technical industry, Their idea was to harness the technological possibilities of digitalisation to make X-ray equipment more compact, energy-efficient and portable.
"We manufacture X-ray equipment that can be taken to the patient, rather than the other way around, eliminating the need to transport vulnerable patients from facilities such as neonatal and intensive care wards and A&E departments. We have also started manufacturing a slightly modified version of our product that can be loaded into a van and driven to facilities such as health centres or residential homes,” says CEO Mattias Guldstrand.
That said, the companies successful launch onto the market was prefaced by many years of hard work. A major element of product development consisted of developing a battery with a sufficiently long life, short charging time and portability to make the product mobile. This was where RISE entered the picture.
"We had looked briefly at batteries for electric vehicles, but we had no real expertise of our own in the field. RISE did have the necessary competence however, and they helped us through product development and the approval stage. RISE also provided good support on the two occasions we applied for and received grants from Vinnova through their Research & Grow programme,” says Mattias Guldstrand.
He describes the technology in the lithium battery system (sold under the brand name X-tech Cell TM) as the heart of the product. It is this that halved the weight of the X-ray equipment, thereby making it truly mobile. The equipment can be used for 30 minutes after only a five-minute charge and with continuous charging it can be used around the clock. This is a level of performance that competitors do not even come close to.
Two years after commencing serial production, Solutions for Tomorrow’s equipment is in use at hospitals in 17 countries on several continents. This year, the company signed a framework agreement with regional health authority Region Skåne to supply eight systems to Skåne University Hospital in Malmö and Lund.
Future plans include further reductions in both weight and charging time, as well as the development of new products in the field. The major factor affecting the timescale for this work is the availability of financing.
"Over the last two years we have had our hands full expanding and building a factory. Otherwise, money is the controlling factor in how quickly a startup like our own company can develop; however, we had a turnover of SEK 14 million last year and expect to end up at around double that,” says Mattias Guldstrand.
According to Ingvar Karlson, who is responsible for electrical testing of batteries at RISE, this is a prime example of how RISE can create better conditions for society’s problem solvers.
“It is extremely gratifying and inspirational to see the burning passion and fantastic ideas of entrepreneurs develop into a viable business,” he says.