The magnetic assistant for surgeons

Our solution de-risks surgeries. It combines the benefits of both traditional surgeries and minimally-invasive interventions, while alleviating the drawbacks of each.

Christoff Heunis
University of Twente
Biomechanical Engineering

Over het initiatief / About the initiative

The magnetic assistant for surgeons

In welke fase zit jouw initiatief? / In what stage is your initiative?


Meer informatie over jouw initiatief / More info about your initiative

The year is 2016, and I have just finished my Master’s degree in biomedical engineering in South Africa. At that time, two of my grandparents died from heart disease. My dad had to undergo a dangerous vascular operation twice. This had a massive impact on me regarding my future line of work. I wanted to be part of a community that de-risks surgeries associated with these diseases. And hence started my goal to design and build systems to treat patients that suffer from heart diseases. I got the opportunity to be a Ph.D. student at the University of Twente, leading me to found the spinoff – Flux Robotics

I quickly learned that this disease is prevalent in other countries than South Africa. There are up to 400000 hospitalizations per year in the Netherlands alone for patients with heart disease. Not to mention waiting times of up to 7 weeks and average stays at hospitals of 5.6 days. The reason is: that there are just not enough skilled surgeons to treat this amount of patients – especially in rural areas.

So I went and observed at hospitals and conducted interviews with these surgeons. They all said the same thing – they find it difficult to treat diseases inside the body because they cannot control surgical tools from a distance, resulting in long interventions. Also, they would have to do open surgery to control these tools directly, making recovery for the patients even longer and riskier. 

So we designed a magnetic “hand” that can position tools as if they were conducting an open surgery, but by minimally invasive means. Our technology works as follows: a surgeon makes one small incision, inserts the tool into the body, and controls the tip with an electromagnetic coil. Therefore, using our product reduces the distance between the surgeon and the area that needs to be treated, for example, to implant a stent.

One prototype has already been designed and tested up to TRL5. Our next step is to reach the remaining technology-readiness levels to bring our system to the market.

Wat zijn jouw volgende stappen om het verder te ontwikkelen? / What are your next steps to develop the initiative?

Our next step is to bring the product from proof of concept to a functional demonstrator. We work according to the medical device standards in order to obtain FDA approval and CE/MDR certification.

Wat heb je nodig om (nog meer) impact te maken met dit initiatief? / What do you need to make (more) impact with this initiative?

We need a Series A investment. Clinical trials are required in order to certify this product. We offer the opportunity for a strategic investor – preferably with expertise and capabilities in robotics, who has good knowledge of the surgical robotics market, and the funding capabilities to ensure a functional demonstrator and follow-up investments for: 1) Building the team, 2) (Pre)-clinical evaluation, and 3) Bringing the system to the market