By combining modern software technology, motivational video games, and cutting-edge monitoring and analysis tools, ESA BIC Bavaria startup reFit Systems is developing a modular platform for the rehabilitation of patients with movement disorders.
Therapists use reFit Systems’ software tools to define therapy requirements, monitor patient progress, and access medical analysis. Patients are motivated to do their individual exercises by entertaining, motion-based video games that train core strength, balance, and coordination skills. The controls of the games are defined by each patient’s individual therapy plan. At the same time, the reFit Gamo system monitors movements via biofeedback algorithms and stores relevant information in a secure cloud for analysis and visualisation.
ESA BIC Bavaria Manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Valentin Koller (VK), co-founder of reFit Systems.
CG: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
VK: We’re all about digital health. Our main product is a digital therapy system for children with motor deficits – we call it ‘reFit Gamo’. The basic idea is easy: We want to motivate kids to do their exercises more efficiently and regularly by using motion controlled video games. To put this into a medical context, our system allows doctors to configure the controls of the games for each patient individually. With state-of-the-art sensor technology and our algorithms, we track every movement automatically and generate analyses about the current state of the patient and their rehabilitation progress. In this way, we can provide enhanced feedback in the games and enable doctors to monitor and control the therapy from anywhere, anytime.
The team behind reFit Systems is comprised of highly motivated “techies” with an extensive scientific background that work together with therapists, doctors and various rehab clinics to make this product come to life.
CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
VK: The medical market is definitely a great challenge for startups. Aside from regulations, data security and other legal aspects, the adoption rate for innovative digital products is still relatively slow. However, we do see that this is changing. Governments and other leaders of the medical sector see the great potential that lies in digital health and telemedicine. As an early provider of such services, we can only benefit from this movement.
CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
VK: 1st: We try to get customer feedback as early as possible. Naturally, as scientists and developers, we don’t like to provide solutions that are not 100% ready yet. But nobody knows better what they want than the customer themselves. We are convinced that this is the best way to make sure you spend your limited resources on the right things to make your product successful.
2nd: Never stop growing your network. Even contacts that might seem unrelated to our field at the moment can become important at a later point. We are really surprised by how many people have tried to help and support us along the way as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and we are very grateful to that.
3rd: We always tried to keep an open mind about our product and our strategy. Sometimes it’s not easy, but, especially in the beginning of a startup, it’s very difficult to foresee what could become successful and what not. We try to bring the best of innovation and technology while also creating something that people can identify with and find useful.
CG: What do you expect from ESA BIC Bavaria and how do you think the initiative and its network will help you to kick-start your business case?
VK: As we mentioned previously, never stop growing your network. At this point, ESA BIC has a well consolidated network of institutions and expertise that can help startups get the extra boost required to successfully enter the market.
CG: What do you think to benefit from the DLR support?
VK: Let’s be honest – at first glance, the relationship between DLR and a digital therapy system seems farfetched. But when we were looking for better alternatives for our tracking hardware, we came to realise that DLR has great expertise in this domain and is actively researching this technology. With them as partner, we benefit from the support of an established institution with highly skilled people.
CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in reFit Systems’ future?
VK: The clock for the digital health era has just started and reFit Systems is a part of this. I think we have the chance to grow and shape the future of healthcare into a more human-centric system. Difficult and time consuming tasks within diagnosis, assessments and evaluations will be left to smart technology, so doctors and therapists have more time to concentrate on actually treating patients and their problems.
Did you enjoy this interview with the outstanding startup? Anyone interested can get in contact with reFit Systems via e-mail. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with ESA BIC Bavaria startups on our AZO Blog.