The City of Innovators zooms in on inspiring innovations in the Brussels region. Hans Ingelberts, postdoctoral researcher at the VUB, explains the Caps for Life project and the latest camera technology.
What is Caps for Life?
In the Caps for Life project, a new generation fluorescence camera is being developed for medical and Life science applications. The funding Hans received from Innoviris, allowed him to develop a complete camera technology from the Caps pixel and to figure out which niche to focus on. A novel technology solution which appeared also on the radar of investors, increasing the probability of obtaining European grants. As a result, Hans recently managed to secure significant funding of one and a half million euros to Brussels.
What impact does your project have on the Brussels Capital Region?
I think with our project we are developing a very exciting technology in Brussels, with a socially relevant and medical application: better imaging of cancer and improving surgical procedures.
The aim is for this major project to grow into an innovative company that can bring international grants to Brussels and also create quality jobs. Developing such a camera technology requires various profiles of highly skilled people. People from different fields: electronics engineers, medics, but also people with a creative profile, for example.
We will ensure that our co-workers are adequately remunerated and feel happy in their jobs. All of this, I think; can only contribute to a wonderful Brussels.
How will your product be innovative for the medical world?
With classical cameras, you can only observe the spectral properties of fluorescence. The new caps camera technology provides a new dimension because it allows you to image the temporal nature of fluorescence.
With this new technology, surgeons will be able to perform their procedures more precisely. The extra dimension will allow them to see tumours or nerves better, allowing them to remove the tumour more accurately. As a result, fewer patients will relapse and the patient's quality of life will also improve.
About your job, what makes it so enjoyable ?
What I like most is the creative aspect. From a young age, I have always been involved in making things, developing and designing things…and this is also still what I enjoy most. Designing a circuit board for example, writing codes, ...
Hans uses the positive energy for facets that suit him less, which are an inherent part of running a project or starting a business.
What was your background before Caps for Life?
Hans was literally born at the VUB, in the hospital in Jette and lived his first 12 years in Meise. He spent his secondary school years at Sint-Pieterscollege in Jette.
When I was allowed to choose a university, I also chose the VUB, and therefore Brussels again. Somehow that attracted me the most. At the VUB I studied civil engineer electronics as a. After my studies I got to work at Option in Leuven as a hardware electronics designer, where I was responsible for 3G data communication. After 3 years, Professor Maarten Kuijk, still my supervisor, brought me back to the VUB to start that research on fluorescence cameras.