‘Medical care for everyone, everywhere’. Ashok Sridhar has a clear mission: to bring the technology of the future to market. For example, the ‘health patch’, which is eagerly awaited by the medical world.
“I have been working at Holst Centre since 2011, with two interruptions – about which more later. Here, TNO is collaborating with the Belgian research centre imec to develop the next generation of electronics technologies. As a business developer, I seek collaboration with partners that we can work with to bring our innovations to market.”
Monitoring patients remotely
“The health patch is one such innovation. This smart plaster is equipped with printed electronics that measure and transmit the wearer’s heartbeat, respiration, blood oxygen saturation, temperature, etc. This enables a doctor to monitor these vital functions remotely, so that the patient can remain in his or her familiar surroundings. We are in partnerships with various hospitals that are conducting clinical studies with patients who are wearing the health patch.
The health patch is vital to the future of healthcare. People are living ever longer and they are keen to stay in their familiar surroundings, and there is also a lack of care staff. Remote monitoring devices such as the health patch make it possible to offer remote supervision and support to vulnerable elderly people. The health patch therefore helps to democratise healthcare: medical care for everyone, everywhere. That’s a great source of motivation.”
“Endless” lighting foil
“Printed electronics offer many more possibilities and applications, including commercial uses. For example, we have developed LED film that produces light not only from a single point, but over a whole area. If you incorporate this into large area film, you can use it to light entire walls or columns, without any heavy construction elements.”
“I’m a business developer three days a week and for the rest of the time, I prepare business cases for new spin-offs from TNO. TNO is a not-for-profit organisation, so the activities with which we want to enter the market and create new business are undertaken through spin-offs.
TNO now has 25 spin-offs and another four will hopefully be added this year as a result of work at Holst Centre alone. The first one that I am preparing will launch the LED foil technology on the market. I’m cooperating closely with my colleagues from TNO Technology Transfer, who specialise in transferring technology to the market. Together, we are seeking investors who will be able to play a role in this project.”
Departures and returns
“Starting up new companies is a great step in my career. I received this offer while I was spending a year in India because my family needed me there. I helped a company there to set up a new printed electronics division and I was keen to do more of the same. The offer from TNO arrived at just the right moment. Previously, I had also left Holst Centre, after finishing my MBA, when I wanted to try my luck at a commercial company. I came back twice and let’s hope its third-time lucky.”