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The EPIONE project concerned phantom limb pain (PLP) which is a frequent consequence of amputation, and it is notoriously difficult to treat.

Phantom limb pain affects many amputees and the current treatment is inadequate. Amputation usually follows traumatic injuries or surgery as a result of e.g. vascular diseases, diabetes or tumours in cases where the loss of the limb is required for the survival of the patient.  The amputation is usually followed by the sensation that the lost body part is still present. In 50-80% of amputees’ neuropathic pain develops in the lost limb, which is also referred to as phantom limb pain (PLP). Throbbing, piercing and needles sensations are among the most commonly used descriptors of pain in amputees. Today, it is not completely understood why the pain occurs. Different factors may influence the occurrence and extent of phantom pain. Several studies have shown that most currently available treatments for PLP (pharmacological, surgical, anaesthetic, psychological and other) are ineffective and fail to consider the mechanisms that underlie PLP. 

Following the importance of providing innovation and exploitation scenarios from the EU-funded on phantom limb pain research, the key objective of this research was to answer the question:“How is it possible to make money from the technological solutions and related IP generated through the EPIONE project?” In order to answer this question, it was necessary to create an understanding of the competitive landscape of the industrial setting within which these technologies would be deployed as well as the business models applied in the industries in which these technologies would have to compete. After this, the next step was to study how the IP created in EPIONE would constitute a value to (1) users of the technological solutions and (2) other potential corporate stakeholders.

The business model research consisted of three basic stages:

  • Understanding
  • Designing
  • Implementing

The initial understanding phase was addressed in the early stages of the EPIONE project for the sake of gaining an overview of possible models for structuring the exploitation objectives. The resulting knowledge provided feed back into the parallel clinical development phases through the status-reports being shared in the project.

The EPIONE aimed to challenge the status-quo of PLP treatment. The project group has developed dedicated technological solutions that provide sensory feedback to patients which will restore the neuroplasticity changes in the cortex and thereby control and alleviate pain. EPIONE is a consortium of 12 partners from Europe and the US involving clinical, industrial and academic institutions.

For the sake of this project, the understanding phase was further supported by two phases namely: Identifying applied business model configurations in the existing industry and identifying business model configurations relevant to the developed PLP technologies. Finally, in the implementation phase, the identified business models were optimized and prepared for implementation for the sake of developing concrete exploitation strategies for the EPIONE technologies. This phase involved the development of business plans, a detailed project execution plan, a planning of organisation, responsibilities and necessary competences.