100th ESA start-up takes on RLS

One hundred small companies has already helped ESA's incubation center BIC in Noordwijk on their way. Company number 100 wants to improve the treatment of restless legs (Restless Leg Syndrome, RLS) using knowledge from space travel. 

“I have had restless legs since my childhood, just as my father has suffered from them all his life,” says medical doctor Casper van Waveren. "Now that I recognize its symptoms in my son, I want nothing more than to help him."

RLS is known for its overwhelming and often unpleasant urge to move your legs when you are at rest. In extreme cases, this urge can become disturbing and restrict the patient's daily activities. According to the National Health Service in Britain, 10 percent of the population has to deal with the condition at least one time in their life. Drug treatment of RLS has side effects. Casper has been looking for a different solution for years. The different devices he tested are all only partially suitable and were not usable for all degrees of RLS. A new device sees the light of day

The entrepreneurs behind Relegs
When Casper invented his own device, engineer Erik van der Heide brought his experience with space technology into play. “We can make it smaller, better, safer, more robust and more reliable,” he suggested. The pair formed the Dutch start-up Relegs BV, which started last month at ESA's incubation center BIC in Noordwijk. The goal: to create a treatment for RLS that has no side effects and can be used in any situation.

“Casper and Erik have different design methods previously used by ESA in the development of space hardware. These methods can lead to a smarter solution to help RLS patients, ”says Martijn Leinweber, communications manager at ESA BIC Noordwijk, ESA's longest-running incubation center, opened in 2004.

“At our incubation center, they can draw on the expertise of our partners and ESA's nearby technology center,” said Leinweber. "That way they can further develop their idea and grow their start-up."

“At the moment we cannot say much more about the specific space technology that we want to use,” says Van der Heide. “We must first secure our patent. But we are convinced that there is a market for our device and that we can improve the quality of life for many people affected by RLS. ”

A 'century' of incubation
Celebrating the 100th start-up at ESA BIC Noordwijk “Relegs is our 100th start-up,” said Leinweber of ESA BIC Noordwijk, which opened in 2004 as part of ESA's technology transfer program. “Entrepreneurs come to us with their ideas and we help them turn these ideas into viable businesses. In 13 years, we have now done that with Relegs for the 100th time.