Medical device Morphemat® for ICU wins ‘Business Innovation’ Henry van de Velde Award

Morphemat® won the golden Henry van de Velde “Business Innovation” 2022 Award, the most prestigious design award in Belgium.


Wijnegem and Turnhout, Belgium, 8 February 2022 – The GOLD ‘Business Innovation’ Henry van de Velde Award 2022 goes to the medical device Morphemat®. This ergonomic, inflatable mat enables care providers in intensive care units (ICU) to effortlessly tilt patients weighing up to 180 kg into alternating positions. The reusable Morphemat® reduces both the time and physical strain for caregivers and has many benefits for patients. This sustainable innovation is the result of an in-depth collaboration between design and engineering firm Voxdale, and medtech company Ergotrics.

Many health benefits for the patient

Patients in the ICU benefit greatly from repositioning therapy, i.e. regularly moving their bodies in alternating positions (lifting 30 degrees to the left and right). More than half of them are immobile because of anaesthesia, ventilation, too much pain or too little muscle strength. Scientific studies show that repositioning ICU patients every 2 hours has many advantages and helps prevent complications. Patients recover faster and suffer less skin damage (bedsores), cardiovascular or musculoskeletal damage, and it promotes oxygenation of the body. [1,2]

Less pressure on ICU caregivers

Yet care staff are often unable to manually reposition patients in the ICU in the traditional way on a regular basis. It takes a lot of time, requires the manpower of 2 to 4 nurses [3] and is ergonomically extremely stressful. It is also often inefficient, because the patient slides down or the cushions slide under the patient again.

Morphemat® is a patented, CE-marked and flexible mat with two sections that are inflated separately from each other using compressed air. The mat is reusable and relieves ICU care givers by reducing both the time required and the physical strain (fatigue and back pain).

One nurse can lift the patient safely and quickly in less than a minute thanks to the mat that works with compressed air, which is standard in every hospital room. This reduces the pressure on caregivers and leaves more time and energy to take care of the patient. The reusable mat’s design, which includes laser-cut handles, is comfortable and easy to use.

“User-friendliness and sustainability are at the forefront of our innovation process. In hospitals, products are often used only once. Together with Ergotrics, we tested different materials to make the Morphemat® reusable, which is really not an obvious thing to do 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 latest innovation to emerge from the deep collaboration between Ergotrics and design and engineering firm Voxdale. Already active in 15 international markets, Ergotrics has been working with Voxdale since the very beginning as a start-up.

“Voxdale has been our right-hand man in the field of development and testing for many years. In the early years from the first product concept to the prototype and now with Morphemat® a revolutionary innovation specifically aimed at the IC,” says Inge Bruynooghe, CEO of Ergotrics.

It all started with Ergotrics founder and neurosurgeon Dr Paul Depauw who saw how stressful it was for nurses to move patients under anesthesia in the operating theatre. He looked for a solution and found inspiration in how heavy trucks are tilted with the help of inflatable cushions. This gave him the inspiration to lift patients under anesthesia using air cushions to put them in the right position. With his idea, he called on Voxdale for further elaboration of the concept and development of the first prototype.

“Our passion as designers and engineers is to design for a better world. We put ourselves in the shoes of our clients and end users. That way, we translate the problems they encounter into an effective product that is easy to use. I myself was inspired by our conversations with the nursing staff and their need for an ergonomic mat to relieve their backs,” says Kristof Sorgeloos, Design Engineer and Quality Manager at Voxdale.

In addition to expertise in design and engineering, the multidisciplinary team at Voxdale also provided the right guidance to successfully launch the start-up Ergotrics in Belgium with advice for funding rounds and access to an ecosystem of suppliers and partners including, for Morphemat®, Belgian manufacturer Coatex, part of Sioen Industries.

“We are happy to work with Voxdale because of their experience in medical technology, their expertise and the fact that they work in a flexible and agile way,” explains Ergotrics CEO Inge Bruynooghe. “You are not pushed into a big business process where you have to go through unnecessary steps. They really listen to the customer, give sound advice and deliver exactly what you need.”

Chosen as Gold winner from more than 400 entries

The Henry van de Velde Awards are the most prestigious design awards in Belgium. They honour Flemish designers, companies, products and projects that have a positive impact on the economy and society, both nationally and internationally. For the 2022 edition, the jury selected 27 winners in 9 categories from more than 400 entries. The ‘Business Innovation’ category is a design award for the best innovations that improve working conditions and processes.

“This Henry van de Velde Award in the ‘Business Innovation’ category for Morphemat® is a recognition for the entire team and our long-standing partnership with Ergotrics,” says Tim Dieryckx, CEO of Voxdale. “Together, we are improving working conditions in the ICU and at the same time the health of patients in critical condition. Everything revolves around the well-being of both the patient and the caregiver.”


  • [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, Abridged version S2e guideline -position therapy and early mobilisation for prophylaxis or therapy of pulmonary dysfunction, anesthesiologist, 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.

Liesbeth De Smedt, Up Copywriting Communications

Want to stay informed? Sign up to keep you updated.

Follow us on social media: