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03 December 2023

Khalifa University grants IP licence to Emirati startup

Photo: WAM


Khalifa University of Science and Technology today announced the licencing of its patented technology to a startup floated by an alumnus Emirati entrepreneur with a faculty member.

The intellectual property (IP) technology licence was granted recently, marking a significant milestone in the university’s innovation journey. The home-based monitoring device, called by the Emirati startup ‘Twinkle Heart’, helps pregnant mothers monitor fetal heart-beat and the baby’s cardiac activity.

The technology behind the product was developed by Dr Ahsan Khandoker, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, and licensed to Advanced Research Projects, the start-up established by Biomedical Engineering graduate Saeed Alteneiji, and was incubated at Khalifa Innovation Centre (KIC).

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: "Khalifa University’s comprehensive role includes not only education, but also providing a successful and integrated academic journey in areas that serve the UAE’s strategic sectors. This enables graduate studies and innovations at our state-of-the-art research centres, while facilitating the creation of start-ups and commercialisation of patented technology with products targeting these sectors."

Al Hammadi added, "This is a key milestone for Khalifa University towards successful commercialisation of a technology developed at our own research laboratory. It is also critical for the university to grant intellectual and patent rights to a startup led by an Emirati entrepreneur. We will continue to further exploit the commercial potentials of our IP and patent portfolios and contribute to the innovation ecosystem."

Twinkle Heart comprises four fetal phonocardiogram (FPCG) sensors held on the maternal abdomen by a square fabric harness and elastic belts, making it easier for pregnant women to simply listen to their baby’s heartbeat and feel reassured.

Dr Khandoker said: "It is rewarding to see this piece of my research work can further be progressed by a local start-up into a market product that can benefit the public. The uniqueness of this non-invasive device is the ease of use so it should be accessible to any pregnant mother to determine the well-being of her baby. The successful IP licencing to Advanced Research Projects is a reflection of the University vision for having impactful research."

The portable, low-cost, safe, and easy-to-use fetal screening device for use at home or pregnancy clinics by mobile phone and cheap sensors was originally planned to help medical doctors and midwives. The research results have already been demonstrated through several collaborating hospitals in the UAE and overseas.

Alteneiji said: "ARP’s IP licence with Khalifa University is vital for my startup. We will be executing a development plan in 2020 to transfer the IP from the prototype stage to a commercialized product. A marketing plan is already on the way to create awareness for the device, and our team of experts in marketing, engineering, and technology are closely working towards developing the final product. We are grateful to Khalifa University, especially Dr Al Hammadi as well as the Technology Management and Innovation and the Legal offices for their effort and extended support."

Beyond its home-based application, the device’s portability makes it an ideal solution for health workers in remote areas. Alteneiji’s company Advanced Research Projects has a subsidiary MARP, established early this year, which will be responsible for this product.

Khalifa University currently has over 140 issued patents, with around 360 pending patent applications and more than 400 invention disclosures, while remaining as a leading contributor to the country’s patents portfolio.