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Female-led Dutch healthtech RespiQ secures €4M to transform COPD patient care

RespiQ founders
Picture credits: RespiQ

Founded by two female founders, RespiQ, a Dutch healthtech startup, has been awarded a €4 million grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC), which recently invested in Efenco and Hardt Hyperloop

RespiQ will receive the grant over the next three and a half years alongside a distinguished international consortium of renowned academic institutions and medical research organisations. This includes King’s Centre for Lung Health, the School of Immunology and Microbial Sciences at King’s College London, the National eHealth Living Lab within the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), the Norwegian research organisation Sintef, and the Portuguese technical consulting and research company, uRoboptics. 

The funding will accelerate the development and miniaturisation of RespiQ’s breath diagnostics technology, enhancing non-invasive remote COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patient monitoring. 

How was RespiQ founded?

RespiQ, based in Leiden, was founded by Mira Gleisberg and Jantine Mens. Mira has a wealth of healthcare experience from roles at Philips and McKinsey and is a serial entrepreneur specialising in strategy, healthcare product development, and disease prevention. On the other hand, Jantine boasts a significant background in strategic healthcare marketing, having led various patient-centric medical device launches at Becton Dickinson, Bayer, and GSK.

The idea of RespiQ took place during a founder residency in Amsterdam facilitated by Antler, the most active early-stage investor in Europe, in 2019. During the residency, Mira alongside tech inventor Vitalii Vorkov, formulated the strategic concept for their breath diagnostics technology and embarked on the establishment of RespiQ.

Why COPD diagnostics tech?

Reportedly, COPD is a prevalent global lung disease affecting nearly 400 million people and ranking as the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide. Worldwide six percent of all deaths are caused by COPD. 

RespiQ is developing a breakthrough breath diagnostics device for the analysis of disease biomarkers in the breath. Their mission is to significantly improve the health of millions of people by providing accurate, non-invasive, and affordable technology for early detection of health issues, starting with COPS. 

It is possible with a sensor device for real-time, at-home patient monitoring. The device will offer an early warning system for impending lung attacks, with the potential to transform COPD patient care. Their proprietary algorithm will analyse breath data to create personal insight, which will provide early warning of impending health issues, even before symptoms occur. It is touted to slow down COPD patients’ disease progression, decrease pressure on the healthcare system and significantly reduce medical costs. 

Mira Gleisberg, CEO of RespiQ, commented: “Receiving the EIC Pathfinder grant marks a significant milestone for our company and consortium, as it enables us to accelerate the development of our cutting-edge breath diagnostics device, bringing hope to thousands of COPD patients struggling to monitor their disease.”

Professor Mona Bafadhel, Chair of Respiratory Medicine and Director of the King’s Centre for Lung Health at King’s College London, added: “The impact of this funding will be potentially game-changing. Ways to diagnose onset of deterioration in COPD are urgently warranted. With a non-invasive test like a breath test, this could mean that in the future patients living with COPD will be able to safely monitor their condition without the need for a trip to hospital. As the clinical partner for this project, we look forward to the advancements this funding will allow our research to achieve for COPD patients in the future.”

The LUMC-team added: “We are thrilled to engage in this project where, together with the patient and healthcare provider, we will co-create an optimal workflow for seamless integration of this cutting-edge technology into existing COPD healthcare management. Our ultimate goal is to enhance patient care and outcomes, and together make a significant impact with this wonderful consortium.”

Elizaveta Vereshchagina, Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Digital, commented: “This EIC Pathfinder project is an exhilarating milestone for us at SINTEF MiNaLab. Given our passion for medical technology and its societal impact, we are extremely honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with an exceptional consortium that shares our vision.”

RJ Schuurs, Partner at Antler, added, “We are delighted to have supported RespiQ from day zero of their growth journey and this prestigious funding grant is testament to their long-term growth potential. This is an outstanding founding team building a technology that could improve the lives of thousands of people around the world. We are very excited to see what RespiQ and their consortium partners can deliver in the coming years.”

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