Five years of Founded: Catching up with Ivy Medical

5 november 2021

We’re celebrating five years of Founded in Groningen! And first off, you’re more than welcome to celebrate with us during a festive live edition of Founder Talks (with drinks of course) on November 5th. So be sure to sign up!And as part of this five year milestone, we’re catching up with startups and companies we’ve interviewed five years ago. First up, Ivy Medical.

In 2017, the fledgling startup then known as IVWear, won the VentureLab Health Weekend, alongside other finalists SG Papertronics and EV Biotech. During that weekend, the groundwork was laid for a wearable IV system that significantly increases patients’ freedom of movement and recovery time. The revolutionary infusion pump is also a major advance for medical staff. Thanks to smart settings, IV therapy can be planned better, reduces staff workload and the innovative system also prevents (unnecessary) alarms. This not only makes for happy patients and staff, but also leads to considerable savings in healthcare costs. We catch up with CFO/COO Gijs Schumer to talk about the highlights, the challenges and the future of Ivy Medical. 

What have you been up to these past years?

“A lot has happened these past few years! We’ve grown into a team of about 12 up to 20 FTE and recently moved into our new office. In 2020, we got an investment from RVO and Carduso Capital. They’re really great to work with and, because of their experience, helpful in giving advice on complex agreements and strategic decisions.. We’ve also joined the Life Cooperative, a collection of Groningen based Life Science companies, ranging from startups to international corporates. It’s a really great opportunity to learn from each other and help each other grow. And of course we’re really busy finalizing the designs and working towards market launch in the coming years.” 

And where are you now as a company?

“We’re currently working on our third prototype. On the outside, it doesn’t look like a lot has changed in the pump design, but to make all the different parts connect and work together perfectly safe, it just requires a lot of thinking and prototyping and testing. And that’s also what we’ve been really focusing on in the past two years. For the first couple of years, it was about getting our name out there, entering competitions, pitching, networking, you know, the whole startup thing. And now we’re in a phase where it’s about growing the company and making sure you have the best product possible.”

What are you most proud of?

“For me personally, it would be how much we’ve matured and grown, both as a team and as individuals. When we started, we were still students and pretty inexperienced. And if you’re working on a medical product, the amount of paperwork and documentation involved is absolutely astronomical! <laughs> But throughout the years, I really think we’ve become experts in our niche. And being where we are today, taking all those steps together, seeing our team grow and our product coming together with every step we take, is just incredibly awesome!” 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

“Well, if we’d known just how much work was involved when we started, we’d probably never have gotten this far <laughs>. When you’re talking about patenting and quality management for example, it’s literally tens of thousands of pages of documentation. Everything you do, needs to be documented. It’s a really daunting task if you stop and think about it, but for us, it’s been a gradual process, where you just work together, figure things out and do the work step by step.”

“And I think all that documenting for quality management has ultimately been great for us as a company. It forces you to think about what you’re doing, for every little mundane task or detail, and it becomes second nature. In fact, it becomes part of the DNA of your company and it’s something you automatically apply to other aspects, whether it’s paper in the printer or erasing potentially sensitive or confidential notes from the whiteboard after a meeting. It’s a great way to filter out errors.”

Ideally, what will the next five years be like?

“We’re really excited to be joining CES Las Vegas this January. It will be a great opportunity for us and the perfect boost to kickstart our marketing for an international audience. We’re planning to finally launch in March 2023, working together with the Radboud University Medical Center and after the Netherlands, we’ll be expanding to Germany, the rest of Europe and the US. We’re currently working on getting CE approval in Europe and the FDA in the US comes after that of course.”

“And after that, we’re aiming for an exit, so partnering up with a big player in the market. That’s because we want to make a big impact faster than we would normally can as a smaller company with less manpower, to help patients in hospitals worldwide gain more mobility and recover faster. And when a big industry player is working on selling our product worldwide, we can focus on working on improvements for patients and healthcare professionals.”