Mediwatch is a small company engaged in the design and manufacture
of a number of diagnostic and prosthetic medical systems. The company
employs 15 people and has a turnover of 600 K Euro.
The company's market includes large organisations such as Glaxo, Merck,
Boeringer Ingleheim, Rhone Poulec Rorer, UK and Bard, and also sells
its products via direct sales to end users. The company supplies products
in the medical sector (NACE industrial code 3310).
The company's product range includes the Ezee Pzee, Sphinct Aid, Erect
Ease, DriWatch, Urosonic Scanner, Venus and Spiropeak product and nebulisers.
In developing these products the company has gained expertise in medical
electronic systems based on the use of analogue and digital components,
The objective of this application was to improve the company's Spiropeak
asthma management product. This product currently allows the user to
monitor the peak flow of air expired by a person, and to compare this
against previous values so as to assist in the treatment of asthma by
adjusting drug doses. The existing product incorporates a microcontroller
to provide a readout of peak flow.
The rationale for the product improvement was to improve the market
competitiveness of the Spiropeak by the provision of unique product
features in its market place. The introduction of a micro-machined sensor
into the improved product to measure directly bi-directional flow will
enhance the functionality and performance of the product, whilst at
the same time reducing its manufacturing costs. This will result in
a significant increase in the company'' sales and share of the market.
The product improvements delivered by the use of the microsystem include:
- A reduction in the size of the Spiropeak to make it into a compact,
convenient pocket-sized system, and therefore particularly attractive
- To reduce the cost of the system to that of currently available
less accurate and inconvenient commercial devices.
- To allow inspiratory measurements to be undertaken as well as expiratory.
Both measures are essential for accurate asthma control.
The application experiment was completed in 19 months, and involved
the technical evaluation and validation of prototype micro-machined
sensors currently available at European microsystem device supplier
organisations. A 7 month delay was incurred while commercial arrangements
with the selected subcontractor were finalised.
The increased sales of the equipment will payback the 91 K Euro prototype
development costs within 17 months of the completion of the application
experiment. This incorporates the 15 month industrialisation period.
The expected return on investment over a 3 year period is 2,850%. The
industrialisation costs for the micro sensor are estimated at 100 K