EIT Health MACH-Projekt gewinnt Horizon Impact Award 2020


The project "Mobile Autonomy for Children in End-Stage Heart Failure" (MACH) has won the 2020 Horizon Impact Award. The project is a collaboration between by Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, RWTH Aachen University, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Berlin Heart GmbH. The aim was to develop and bring to market a mobile driving unit for the EXCOR ventricular assist device, or artificial heart, with which children awaiting a heart transplant will no longer be forced to live in a hospital bed, connected to stationary machinery for weeks or even months.

  A photo of Professor Carina Benstöm Copyright: © Uniklinik RWTH Aachen Professor Carina Benstöm

Children have to spend months, sometimes even several years in hospital waiting for a donor organ. This time is very stressful for them and their parents because the children are typically detained in intensive care wards have no opportunity to play or move around freely.

This is where MACH comes in. "The project has successfully brought together experts from science, healthcare, and industry to work towards a common goal – to improve the lives of children waiting for a heart transplant," explains Carina Benstöm, Junior Professor for Evidence-Based Health Research and Academic Director of the Innovation Center for Digital Medicine at the Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, who has been in charge of the international project.

So far, the Berlin Heart EXCOR Pediatric has been used in such situations. It is the only approved ventricular assist system worldwide for the short- to long-term support of children with heart failure of all age groups. As part of MACH, the experts have now developed a smaller, lighter and thus more mobile driving unit with longer battery life. The compressor technology has been changed to lighter and quieter piston drives. EXCOR Active is approximately knee-high and can be moved around by the child itself, making it possible for them to be more mobile and act more autonomously whilst in hospital.

Since receiving CE certification last year, the EXCOR Active has supported the first patients in Germany. "The Horizon Impact Award is a special recognition of our work, the entire project team is very proud to receive it. Above all, however, I am delighted that the results of our work will help to make the often long and difficult time at hospital easier for many brave little patients and their families", says Benstöm.

The Horizon Impact Award

The Horizon Impact Award award is to recognize and celebrate outstanding EU-funded projects that have applied their results in projects that provide particular value for society. The MACH project received funding from the health program of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology EIT. The prize money of 10,000 euros will be donated to support two projects: a part of the prize money will make it possible for families to live in close vicinity to their children, who are currently being treated at a Munich hospital. The other project to receive support is an initiative to support patients of Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, UK.

EXCOR Active: A Short Video Clip

In this video on YouTube you can see how the mobile driving unit EXCOR Active works and supports children with heart disease in everyday life: MACH – Winner of the 2020 Horizon Impact Award.