AlveoliX, a spin-off of the ARTORG Organs-on-Chip Technologies lab was awarded the coveted Swiss Medtech Award, and prize money totalling CHF 75,000 at the Swiss Medtech Day on 14 June 2022. The startup, which was founded in 2019, has created a small-scale replica of the human lung called «Lung-on-Chip» that can also mimic respiratory motions. According to the jury, this organ-on-chip technology has the potential to establish itself as the new standard in preclinical drug development, as a leading alternative to animal testing, and to significantly advance personalised medicine.
The young Bernese company AlveoliX was awarded the Swiss medical technology industry’s coveted innovation prize for its «Lung-on-Chip» technology. Dr Nina Hobi and Dr Janick Stucki, co-CEOs of AlveoliX, and their team have been able to recreate human lung function on a miniature scale. The lung-on-chip model simulates the microenvironment of the lung, including its respiratory movements. A thin, porous membrane facilitates the cultivation of human lung cells under extremely realistic physiological conditions. In this natural environment, cells react as they would in the human body.
Peter Biedermann, Director of Swiss Medtech, is impressed not only by the inventive achievements, but also by the company’s entrepreneurial vision to achieve a breakthrough in the marketing of its technology. «In Switzerland, resourceful ideas unfortunately too often fail on the way from prototype to market-ready product. Our country must make additional efforts to overcome this gap in translation. This would not require more funding, but rather a targeted redirection of existing funds to innovation projects with the greatest market potential, and the payment of capital directly to companies,» says Peter Biedermann, describing one of the goals the association is advocating at a political level. According to jury president Prof. Mirko Meboldt, ETH Zurich, AlveoliX and its interdisciplinary team have created a product «that sets new standards in drug development and has the potential to become a forerunner in the field of personalised medicine».
The jury and the audience also honoured the impressive achievements of the other two finalists. Biospectal SA made it to the top three with a smartphone application that measures blood pressure, and Healios AG thanks to smartphone technology that monitors the neurological functions of multiple sclerosis patients.
The ARTORG Center is the only Swiss research institution to have won the highest award of the Swiss medical technology industry three times in the past 10 years (2013 CTI Medtech Award CAScination CASone, 2019 Swiss Medtech Award CAScination HEARO, 2022 Swiss MedTech Award AlveoliX lung-on-chip). This is testimony to the innovative strength of our competence center for medical technology and our remarkable performance in translating our research into everyday medical practice - a principle to which we have remained true since our inception.
The recognition for outstanding medical technology innovation and translation was first presented by the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) in 2005 as CTI Medtech Award at its annual Medtech Event. When the CTI became Innosuisse in 2018, Swiss Medtech, the Swiss medical technology industry association founded the previous year by the merger of two associations, launched the Swiss Medtech Award. The CHF 75,000 award is today funded by the Lichtsteiner Foundation, Sonova Group, Straumann Group and Ypsomed and recognizes outstanding achievements in the Swiss medical technology industry.