ZenzeTech’s insoles with sensors measure gait symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease, allowing them to follow the development of symptoms day by day. This provides a much better opportunity to medicate the disease, which has a unique course for each patient and therefore requires individualised medication.


Medical science has still not cracked the code on several neurodegenerative diseases, in which there is a gradual degradation of the brain and its functions. Parkinson’s is one of them. Parkinson’s disease involves the gradual destruction of brain cells in a small area of the brain, particularly those that secrete dopamine. Dopamine deficiency causes stiffness in the arms and legs, slow and sluggish movements and trembling at rest.

The disease mainly affects older people, which means that the number of cases is likely to increase significantly in the many countries with ageing populations – including Denmark and Europe.

A particular feature of the disease is that each patient has a unique disease course, which requires carefully tailored medication for each individual. This requires close monitoring of the course of the disease, but this is difficult in Denmark, which has a distinct shortage of neurologists. 90-98 are the latest estimates. This leads to long waiting times – in the Central Denmark Region, the waiting time for Parkinson’s patients is as long as 18 months.

But that’s not all. When you finally get to the neurologist, which happens on average every six months, you have 20 minutes. to describe the course of the disease since last time, which then becomes the basis on which the neurologist determines the medication.

“The problem is that in practice it is quite impossible for the patient to describe the course accurately, and some patients are also cognitively impaired by the disease. This means that every second person is not getting the right medication,” says Christian Haahr, CEO of ZenzeTech, which was originally started as a student project with two other students at DTU.

Insoles provide basis for better medication

ZenzeTech has a solution that provides daily monitoring of the disease process and thus a much better data basis for assessing the patient’s disease picture and providing the best medication. Many years of experience have shown a correlation between the patient’s walking symptoms and the effect of the medication. It is against this background that ZenzeTech has developed intelligent insoles that precisely monitor patients’ gait.

“We have created insoles with built-in sensors that collect data on patients’ walking symptoms in their own homes. It provides a kind of digital diary of the course of the disease. For example, if you see a decrease in walking speed every day at noon, or the patient is experiencing symptoms to a more severe degree, this may be a sign that the timing of medication intake may need to be changed. You may also have to increase the dose – and ultimately you may have to change the drug,” says Christian Haahr.

ZenzeTech’s soles don’t create more neurologists, but it does give in-demand specialists an important tool for more precise medication and better prioritisation of patients – and ultimately saves time too. But the waiting time is still very long, even if you have a digital diary of the course of your illness.

“The nurses at the clinics we work with are typically given more responsibility, including dealing with all telephone contacts from patients and thus being able to respond to new information.”

The product is still in an intensive testing phase. Gathering very basic feedback from patients on how the soles feel, ZenzeTech can now use 3D printing to change the soles quickly and cost-effectively. The second important part of the testing phase is of course the collection of data in the clinical trial, which has so far included 42 patients in Danish hospitals.

Medtech takes time

However, large-scale production of insoles is not just around the corner. Medtech requires patience.

“The money we’ve raised here will go to R&D, so we can lay the foundations to get medical approval in two years’ time. Everything right now is about clinical and technical validation, and that just takes time. So we’re doing all these studies now where we’re learning more about the technology, and then finally there will be the big clinical study, which will be in both Denmark and Sweden with 55 patients in each country. Once we have a solid base, we’ll start doing small pilot studies in a number of European countries, because they typically want to see from people in their own countries that the product works and listen to their own opinion leaders in their university hospitals,” says Christian Haahr.

The main focus will be on Germany, which is by far the largest market. In addition, a digital medical equipment pool was created in 2019 and a number of ‘tracks’ have been established to facilitate the rapid implementation and prioritisation of digital medical equipment.

“For example, they have something called ‘fast track’, where within three months doctors will be able to prescribe the technology that we have developed, for example. There are a lot of interesting things happening in Germany, and it’s clearly the country with the most Parkinson’s patients in Europe.”

In the recent capital increase, 14 investors injected DKK 3 million into ZenzeTech – half of which came from Keystones members and the other half from existing investors. Keystones’ investors will invest individually in ZenzeTech, but regulated through a syndication agreement and headed by a representative who will sit on the board and be empowered to vote at general meetings on behalf of the syndicate.

Helle Monrad is an investor

Helle Monrad, a member of Keystones, is one of the three lead investors in ZenzeTech. She has a long career as a chemical engineer at Haldor Topsøe but decided a few years ago to change track and concentrate fully on being a Business Angel.

What made her invest in a company like ZenzeTech that has a long road to potential success?

“That’s my background from Topsøe. New products, technologies and business areas take a relatively long time to develop. Not because you’re slow, but because it’s complicated. On the other hand, it’s easier to make money when you do. Plus, it’s easier to keep competitors out. If it is demanding to develop, it takes a long time, it involves a technology that can be protected, and it really IS a good idea with an international perspective that meets a real need – then it also means that even if it takes a long time to develop, there is a potentially good payoff. It’s easier to keep competitors out if the product is complicated,” says Helle Monrad.

She adds that she has seen many start-ups where it takes less time to develop – for example a digital platform – and the path to success is faster than in MedTech.

“But you also have something that can be more vulnerable if it’s a business where the key is to be first and fastest. Then you have a certain period to earn your money and put distance to competitors.”

But things are different in Zenzetech.

“I’m used to working with something that’s technically complicated – and I’m used to the timescale for developing new products. And I have something to contribute to the journey ZenzeTech is on. So there is also a growing need for more digital help in our health sector – to digitally exploit all the data collected from patients to improve treatment, relieve staff, etc. Monitoring patients in their own homes, as in this case, also allows medication to be adjusted so that it does not depend on the one day when you are at the neurologist. Moreover, ZenzeTech’s idea might be extended to not only Parkinson’s patients but also other patients who have motor problems due to other neurodegenerative diseases,” says Helle Monrad, who has a time horizon of 7-10 years in ZenzeTech.

Erik Gormsen is the representative of the syndicate

Erik Gormsen was the coordinating investor in the capital raising process, where he was elected as a representative of the syndicate and was given a board position. Medtech is a bit new for him, but he has extensive experience in a closely related industry, having worked in biotechnology for over 21 years at Novozymes.

“ZenzeTech is a super exciting company with an important agenda and a product with great international potential. There may be competition, but here it is an advantage that the company is so early. ZenzeTech has also been very good at making good contacts with the leading clinicians in Denmark, and once you’re in there and convince them, it’s much easier to move on – even outside Denmark. The clinicians have a good network across national borders in a relatively small world of neurology, and hopefully the idea will spread like wildfire,” says Erik Gormsen, adding that the technology also has the potential to develop for use in other neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

He is impressed by the strong team in the company, which also includes Per Resen, a very experienced serial entrepreneur. As fate would have it, the very idea of ZenzeTech is reminiscent of something Erik Gormsen himself worked on in his day.

“Many years ago, when I had just finished my studies at DTU, I worked for a year at Gentofte County Hospital in the Biomechanical Laboratory. We measured people’s walking function on a treadmill where the sensors were in the ground instead of in the shoe like ZenzeTech. That’s why I talked to them in the first place,” says Erik Gormsen.

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