I had the pleasure of a visit from Peter Schlipf of the Forge Partner Development team, this week. Peter had come across for a number of reasons, but the first “task” was to catch up with Philippe Leefsma and wish him well for the next stage in his career. We met for an “apero” and then headed into Neuchatel for a lovely farewell dinner at the historic Cardinal brasserie.
It was a lovely evening, but bittersweet: I’m very happy to see Philippe moving into an interesting role at an Autodesk customer, but sad that we won’t be working together as closely. That said, we’ve already started chatting about AutoCAD development, so maybe I’m wrong about that. ;-)
The following morning I picked Peter up from his hotel and we drove across to the canton of Fribourg. We took the back roads (some of them tiny, thanks Google!) to get to Villaz-Saint-Pierre, the home of regenHU. This is a company I visited for the first time back in May, and suggested to Peter that we arrange a follow-up visit to learn more about what they do and talk about Forge.
regenHU is a startup focused on building 3D bio-printers to be used in regenerative medicine research. They mostly sell their systems into academia, but also have customers in industry who are doing cutting-edge research.
Their printing technology is very interesting: their machines can be fitted with several print-heads selected from a dozen or so different types, printing anything from material a few microns thick to living cells cultured using the patient’s own DNA.
Today their machines are being used to print skin patches for grafting onto burn victims, but will soon also be used to print cartilage for joint repair and eventually (although this will take several decades) be able to print entire organs.
We had a tour of the facility, led by Denis Crottet, regenHU’s CTO, and Samuel Gilliéron, their Software Architect. Denis introduced their hardware technology while Samuel talked about the various software tools.
Just for demonstration purposes we saw a tiny model of a human ear printed in Nivea hand cream. Mainly because it’s inert and harmless (it’s apparently even very good for your hands ;-).
We also got to see the assembly area for regenHU’s hardware, where we got a sense for the kinds of configuration requested by their customers.
All in all it was a very productive few days. Thanks to the whole team at regenHU for the warm welcome, and I look forward to seeing how your technology – and regenerative medicine, as a whole – evolves. Keep up the great work!