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The non-invasive screening device detects infant meningitis through ultrasound technology (Photo: New Born Solutions).

New Born Solutions creates the first non-invasive 3-second screening device for infant meningitis

The Catalan start-up New Born Solutions has created the first non-invasive screening device for infant meningitis to work in only three seconds. Headquartered in the Barcelona Science Park, the company is one of twenty beneficiaries of the ACCIÓ Startup Capital grant—a cash injection of up to 75,000 euros intended to promote the growth of emerging technology companies—with the product expected to be marketed in 2020.


The pen-like device developed by New Born Solutions is placed on the infant’s fontanelle—the area of the cranium that still hasn’t completely ossified—and uses ultrasound technology to determine the concentration of white blood cells in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is an indicator of infection. 

As explained by the start-up’s founder and CEO, Xavier Jiménez, “if a baby has a fever, this is reason enough for a doctor to think he/she may be suffering from a serious infection such as meningitis, which affects the brain and the central nervous system and which may be fatal if it is not detected rapidly”.Jiménez, who received a grant for participating in a programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, added that “the problem is that the only method currently used to detect the few cases of meningitis in a large number of patients is lumbar puncture. This is invasive, entails risks, isn’t always tolerated by the patient and gives negative results in 95% of cases”.

Furthermore, according to Jiménez, “around 30% of lumbar punctures are contaminated with the infant’s blood and, given all these complications, doctors opt to conduct highly expensive preventive treatments which could be avoided in meningitis-free patients”.

The device, designed by New Born Solutions, works by using high-resolution ultrasound technology to generate an image of structures as small as white blood cells. Jiménez assured that this technology will limit “the use of lumbar puncture to just those patients in which meningitis has already been detected, in order to determine the type of pathogen involved and therefore provide suitable treatment”. As it is non-invasive, it will also enable regular monitoring of a patient’s response to medication.

Reducing infant mortality

Jiménez believes that this device will help to “screen for meningitis more rapidly, which is crucial for improving patient recovery and reducing infant mortality. The rate of the latter is 10% in developed countries and 50% in non-industrialised countries. It will also reduce the neurological effects children may suffer from in later life”. The start-up has chosen to focus on this disease due to its severity. Its founder explained that the company is centring its attention “especially on infants, because they are the most vulnerable group”, but it plans on extending its non-invasive screening system to other potentially life-threatening infections that also affect superficial body fluids.

It is currently developing the clinical prototype for the device, and aims to market the product in 2020 once it has obtained the regulatory validations required by the medical devices sector. The company plans to start marketing the product in Spain and then in the rest of Europe.

Support in the start-up ecosystem

New Born Solutions is one of the twenty beneficiaries of the Startup Capital grant issued to emerging technology companies by ACCIÓ—the Catalan Government’s business competitiveness agency—which gave it a 75,000 euro cash injection to fund the execution of its initial business plan.

The 20 companies to receive this grant are part of over 1,250 start-ups listed in the Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub directory, drawn up by ACCIÓ. These firms provide around 12,000 jobs and generate a turnover of 1.1 billion euros. The agency focuses on three essential areas for emerging companies: their acceleration (hence the grants from the Startup Capital programme), international connection with other advanced ecosystems and the promotion of Catalonia as an international start-up hub.