Pula Fizio Tech Startup Attracts Attention from Slovenia, Austria, Asia

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, in its three years of existence, the Pula Fizio Tech startup has presented prototypes of its two technological solutions for healthcare to help people with walking problems – the Hip Rehabilitation Device (HRD) and Restep.

The Fizio Tech startup team includes mechanical engineers and development team leaders Filip Sironic, Martin Matijasic and Filip Nikolic, full stack developer Ivan Lakovic, electrical engineer Ariana Milasincic, PhD student in neuroscience Dea Salamon, and Petra Josipovic, the co-owner and project manager, who has a PhD in public health at the Medical School of the University of Ljubljana, she also graduated as a neurophysiotherapist and is a certified consultant for EU funds.

She began the story behind the Pula Fizio Tech startup as a project with Sironic during her studies when they developed the first functional prototype of HRD, a device for the therapeutic traction and vibration of the hip. The device was intended for use by people with painful hip conditions themselves, as well as for professional use for physiotherapists dealing with patients with such issues.

However, financial resources and time were needed in order to better dedicate themselves to the development and realisation of the idea, which they didn’t have at the time. However, back in 2018, they founded a startup and started applying for tenders for the opportunity to get their hands on some money.

Market placement

A year later, they won the Moj Zaba Start competition, thanks to HRD.

“When we started with the HRD project, we invested everything we had on our own and started building value. When we got the resources from Moj Zaba Start, we decided to invest 120,000 kuna to apply for EU funds and provide 15% of the resources we had to cover, because the EU gives 85% in non-refundable cash.

The value of the project was 943,681.54 kuna. With these resources, we covered the IP application at the EU level, developed prototypes of HRD and Restep, developed a technical map for Restep and implemented QMS according to the ISO 13485 standard.

For HRD, we’re currently developing a prototype iteration and conducting a clinical efficacy trial in people with coxarthrosis. We’re looking for partners and resources for further development and commercialisation. We’ve also filed a patent application at the EU level for HRD, and for Restep, we’re the owners of the right to a consensual patent,” explains Josipovic.

Restep is a biofeed device for the treatment of orthopedic patients who have some damage to the leg.

It can also be used by physiotherapists when planning individual patient therapies, because Restep offers the possibility of an application that has the option of analysing gait parametres, which is very important for physiotherapists when coming up with a proper treatment plan.

“Restep can now theoretically be put on sale as a subject of general use, but what we still want is to improve the design and electronics according to the standards for medical products,” explains Josipovic, who, along with the team, wants to place Restep on the market before the end of 2021, considering that due to the pandemic, business processes are still slowed down.

The Pula Fizo Tech startup works with the Technical Faculty in Pula and the Faculty of Health in Rijeka with which they made a Proof of Concept study, proving that the device works, and they’re also present in Urban Rehabilitation surgeries in Pula, OrtoSpina Rijeka, the Kinetic Centre in Pula, Istarske toplice, the Special Hospital in Rovinj, and ReLab in Umag.

The founders of the Pula Fizio Tech startup state that they are open to cooperation with all institutions. There is also interest from potential partners from outside of the Republic of Croatia, agreements are underway with institutions from Slovenia, where they are already cooperating with a nursing home for the elderly. So far, they have received letters of intent from Croatian institutions, and they are also coming from Slovenia, Austria and Serbia. They’re even negotiate with potential partners from as far away as Asia.

At the Pula Fizio Tech startup, they plan to hire a sales person soon and at least one more individual to assemble the devices, and there is no shortage of anything when it comes to their plans and ambitions for the future.

“We want to become a leader in the development of physiotherapy and rehabilitation equipment here in the region and beyond. Our long-term goal is to expand the business to prototyping services for clients and quality physiotherapy services where we’ll apply our innovations, ie, in a healthcare institution that has its own clinical and research part along with production,” concludes Petra Josipovic.

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