Wednesday February 9th 2022



The Gold ’Business Innovation’ Henry van de Velde Award 2022 goes to medical device Morphemat®, developed through a close collaboration between design and engineering agency Voxdale and MedTech company Ergotrics.

Many health benefits for patients

Positioning therapy with this ergonomic, alternating mat for the intensive care unit (ICU) has many benefits for healthcare workers and patients alike. Repositioning ICU patients every 2 hours allows them to recover faster and helps prevent complications (skin, cardiovascular or musculoskeletal) associated with prolonged bed rest in the ICU, while also improving oxygenation in the body. (1,2)

Reduces pressure on ICU staff

Hospital personnel is often not able to regularly reposition patients manually because it is very time consuming. Doing this the traditional way takes the power of 2-4 nurses (3) and is very taxing on their backs. The Morphemat® mat is fast and easy to use. By using compressed air, it allows 1 nurse to lift the patient (up to 180 kg) safely in less than 1 minute, an enormous ergonomic improvement. The reusable mat has 2 inflatable alternating sections to reposition patients up to 30 degrees. The design of the mat, including its laser-cut handles, is comfortable and user-friendly.

“We put ease of use and sustainability first in our innovation process. Single-use products are very common at hospitals. Together with Ergotrics we tested multiple materials to make the Morphemat® reusable, which is not a given in an ICU environment,” says Kristof Sorgeloos, Design Engineer and Quality Manager at Voxdale.

Collaboration with Voxdale: Ergotrics grows from start-up to international scale-up

Morphemat® is the most recent innovation that stems from the close collaboration between Ergotrics and Voxdale. Already active in 15 international markets, Ergotrics has been working together with Voxdale since its early start-up days.

“Voxdale has been our go-to partner for many years in the area of development and testing. From the very beginning with the first product concept to the prototype, and now with the Morphemat® a redesign specifically developed for the ICU,” says Inge Bruynooghe, CEO of Ergotrics.

It all started with Ergotrics founder and neurosurgeon dr. Paul Depauw who noticed how strenuous it was for nursing staff to move anesthetized patients in operating rooms. He wanted to find a solution and was inspired by the way heavy trucks were tilted with the help of inflatable pillows. This is how he had an epiphany to lift anesthetized patients with inflatable pillows to put them in the right position. With that idea he turned to Voxdale to further flesh out the concept and to develop the first prototype.

“My passion as a design engineer is to develop sustainable products to make our world a better place. We were humbled and inspired by the critical care nurses we interviewed during the design process, who told us exactly what they needed. With the Morphemat® they are left with more time and energy to take better care of their patients and, importantly, themselves,” says Kristof Sorgeloos, Design Engineer and Quality Manager at Voxdale.

Next to its design and engineering expertise, Voxdale’s multidisciplinary team also provided the right guidance and knowhow to successfully launch the start-up. That included advice with regards to funding rounds and access to an ecosystem of suppliers and partners, including Belgian manufacturer Coatex (part of Sioen Industries) for Morphemat®.

“We enjoy working with Voxdale because of their vast experience in medical technology, their knowhow and the fact that they work in a flexible and agile way,” explains Ergotrics CEO Inge Bruynooghe. “You are not forced into a large-scale corporate process where you have to run through unnecessary steps. They really listen to their customers, give sound advice and deliver exactly what you need.”

Selected as a Gold winner out of 400+ entries

The Henry van de Velde Awards are Belgium’s most prestigious design awards. They recognize Flemish designers, companies, products and projects that have a positive impact on the economy and society, both nationally and internationally.

“This Gold Henry van de Velde Award in the Business Innovation category serves as a recognition for the entire team and our long-standing collaboration with Ergotrics. The Morphemat® is a prime example of state-of-the-art innovation out of Flanders. Our product developers and engineers started designing from the end user’s need. They combined insights from the field with our technological knowhow, resulting in a fantastic product,” says Tim Dieryckx, CEO of Voxdale.

Voor de 2022 editie selecteerde de jury 27 winnaars in 9 categorieën uit meer dan 400 inzendingen. Voxdale werd gekozen door de jury als Gold Award-winnaar in de categorie ‘Business Innovation’, een designprijs voor de beste innovaties die werkomstandigheden en -processen verbeteren.

“Deze impactgedreven productinnovatie draagt bij tot een betere gezondheidszorg met verbeterde werkomstandigheden voor zorgverleners en vele gezondheidsvoordelen voor de patiënt,” zegt Tim Dieryckx, CEO van Voxdale. “Aangezien Voxdale als missie heeft om producten te ontwikkelen die een positieve impact hebben op onze samenleving, zijn we erg dankbaar dat we de Morphemat® hebben mogen ontwikkelen met Ergotrics.”


(1) Goldhill DR, Badacsonyi A, Goldhill AA, Waldmann C. 2008, A prospective observational study of ICU patient position and frequency of turning, Anaesthesia, 63(5):509-15.

(2) Bein T et al. 2015, Verkorte versie S2e richtlijn -positietherapie en vroege mobilisatie voor profylaxe of therapie van pulmonale dysfunctie, Anaesthesist, 64:596-611.

(3) Nam Ho Do et al 2016, Effects of a continuous lateral turning device on pressure relief, J. Phys. Ther. Sci. 28: 460-466.

About Voxdale

Voxdale empowers companies to develop functional products faster, more sustainably and user-friendly. Its multidisciplinary team brings knowhow in product development, high-tech engineering and fast prototyping to start-ups, scale-ups and large corporations in sectors such as MedTech, energy, mobility, food and agrotech. They benefit from an ecosystem of partners and pioneering companies that are committed to improving health, combating climate change or protecting our planet. Voxdale has the experience and expertise to guide clients from the initial product idea to building prototypes and industrialized end products. Voxdale employs 35 product developers and engineers in Antwerp, Ghent and Berlin.

About Ergotrics

Ergotrics was founded in 2014 by Dr Paul Depauw, neurosurgeon. Ergotrics specializes in positioning and moving patients with compressed air in the healthcare sector. Ergotrics designs and manufactures inflatable positioning cushions that allow to lift and tilt patients quickly, easily, ergonomically, hygienically and safely. The first innovations are a breakthrough for the proning procedure and the prone position in neurosurgical operations. Further R&D will lead to innovations for home care and other hospital applications.

About Henry van de Velde Awards

The Henry van de Velde Awards showcase and applaud Flemish designers, enterprises and governmental organizations, products, services and systems which, as a result of their design or their solution of a given problem, have a positive impact on the environment, the economy and society. These awards emphasize the important role that designers and the parties commissioning their work play in society. They set out the lines for the future and provide us with smart and useful solutions for topical problems.