VoluSense’s best vest

The Norwegian company has developed a non-invasive way to monitor the littlest lungs

Photo: Wikimedia Commons A doctor examines a newborn. The VoluSense vest would be able to monitor the baby’s lung function without the cold stethoscope.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A doctor examines a newborn. VoluSense’s vest would be able to monitor the baby’s lung function without the cold stethoscope.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

A baby vest full of modern technology ready for the world was just launched and has been rolled out to selected pilot hospitals. The product represents an upgrade in baby care. Behind this is the startup VoluSense, whose clinically validated product is a smart vest and a bedside device used to record and display lung function information. Lung function measurements are useful to evaluate the status and progress of patients with respiratory conditions.

CEO Rianne Vogels has worked full time with the startup since 2011. She has 12 years of experience with seed and venture capital, mainly in the medical technology and life science sectors. Without any marketing, 16 hospitals from nine different countries have made inquiries. The product is approved in line with EU Medical Device Directive regulations. Doctors and staff at the Haukeland University Hospital have helped develop the system.

VoluSense, based at the Bergen Science Center, addresses an unmet need for day-to-day information about the lung function development of hospitalized babies. Most of these tiny and vulnerable patients undergo clinical interventions that will have an effect on lung health, both intentionally and unintentionally. The need for treatments is difficult to ascertain without a suitable system to measure lung function.

The vest was developed to measure respiration parameters that are relevant to the management of preterm and term babies in the neonatal ward. The device measures tidal breathing. It has the advantage of not interfering with the airways, which is something that can occur with other methods. The vest works by translating the volume changes. Each breathing cycle is visualized and quantified on the screen on the bedside device. The graph and data resemble those provided for invasive ventilator systems, however, the VoluSense system does not involve the interference from secretions, endotracheal tube leaks, dead space, or resistance that conventional and more invasive ventilator systems can have.

The vests are comfortable wraparounds produced at sizes suitable for preterm and term neonatal patients. They also allow rapid access to the baby as needed. A typical measurement procedure should take about 5-10 minutes, although a baby can be monitored for longer periods if desirable.

So far VoluSense has NOK 40 million invested in the smart vest. The largest investor is Sarsia Seed. This is a Norwegian Capital Fund which invests in Norwegian early phase technology companies within the energy/cleantech and biotech/life science sectors. Now VoluSense is looking for a strategic partner. The leading U.S. deal-maker transaction adviser for mid-sized medical technology firms, Ferghana Partners, is offering their help.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.