Ionic miniature polymer actuators for minimally invasive interventions

The University of Tartu has developed a high-performance polymer actuator technology (iEAP) that can be used to make a minimally invasive device with better steerability, for improved treatment of conditions such as chronic arterial diseases. This project will assess the feasibility of using the technology in Philips’ minimally invasive interventional devices.


Chronic arterial diseases in the brain or legs affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Steerability of interventional devices shortens treatment time and potentially lowers X-ray dose by improving navigation and access to small and hard to reach blood vessels, enabling better treatment of chronic vascular diseases and improving patients’ lives.


The consortium is composed of two partners who have complementary expertise: The University of Tartu spawned the technology and has developed it up to a maturity level where it is ready for transfer to industry. Philips is the industrial partner who will assess if the technology performs adequately for implementation in the intended application(s).

The project

The project will use the iEAP innovation in a minimally invasive device to create a demonstrator model that has steerability on demand. The goal is to validate the usefulness of the new technology and assess the performance in this phantom model with intended users, to determine if the solution is suitable for further development towards market introduction.

In addition, several educational activities are planned, to highlight key aspects of technology transfer from academia to industry.

EIT Health contributes in facilitating the partnership, on one side by allowing the academic stage technology to be matured in key directions that are most relevant for industry, and on the other side by providing the framework for evaluation of the technology in a specific application case.

EIT Impact MII



If the project validates this innovation, it can lead to introduction of a new and better a minimally invasive device for treatment of vascular conditions. The improved steerability will enable access to more branched and tortuous vessels. The innovation also offers promise for other areas where such a device could be helpful. Patients and society will benefit from improved treatment. By simplifying non-invasive procedures, the innovation makes it possible to use these procedures more widely.

Why this is an EIT Health project

This project is an excellent example of EIT Health’s effort to unite the various side of the Innovation Triangle because it brings together a development created in an academic research environment with the market knowledge of a major corporation.

The project is also in line with the EIT Health Focus Area of “Care Pathways” because it promises greatly improved care for a widespread condition.

Daan van den Ende
| Scientist | Philips Electronics Nederland B.V.
Alvo Aabloo
| Professor | University of Tartu