Timesulin Never Forgets – Helping Manage Diabetes

By Silicon Allee |

This is a guest post by Sandy Hathaway

The average person forgets five things each day – did I turn off the coffee pot? When did I last water the plants? Did I take my vitamins? Leaving your lunch at home, forgetting to call your colleague back; it’s an easily believable statistic.

And it is the most mundane and repetitive of daily tasks which are most at risk of being forgotten because the frequency at which they need to be done means we carry them out on autopilot, and so they only register near the blurry realm of the subconscious.

But what if keeping track of such an activity was critical to your health? John Sjölund was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was three years old, and 26 years later he continues to manage his condition with a regular regimen of insulin injections using an insulin pen four times per day.

That’s 1,500 times per year.

And sometimes – whether through training for the world’s largest cycling race or completing his Masters thesis and running his own company – he became so busy that he forgot whether or not he had taken his shot.

Finding a Better Way

When a diabetic misses a dose of insulin, or administers a double dose after forgetting the first one, their quality of life plummets and the risks to their well-being rise sharply. Skin infections, headaches, stomach problems, poor coordination and concentration, numbness in the mouth and tongue, passing out and even coma can be the result.

Sjölund decided that there had to be a better way to remember whether or not he had taken his injection, and so he co-founded a startup in Berlin with Marcel Botha and together they created Timesulin, which was launched on February 9.

Botha is a medical device entrepreneur, mechanical engineer, and former architect. He specializes in merging digital and physical solution architecture into new products and services encompassing varied degrees of complexity. By using a process of heuristic design, they came up with a device that is able to solve the problem of keeping track of injections while being seamlessly integrated into the normal everyday behavior of those using it.

The solution is an accessory cap for the typical insulin pen that incorporates a digital timer with an inner stainless steel leaf-spring switch, and replaces the original cap completely. When this Timesulin cap is removed, the timer is reset to zero and it begins counting again when it is replaced. A delay period of eight seconds allows the patient to quickly check insulin levels, or to replace the cap without taking an injection due to the phone ringing or other interruption.

“The Right Environment for Innovation”

The innovation is in the simplicity of design and ease-of-use for the patient, as well as the modular inner configuration that allows for the Timesulin caps to be easily customized for different types of pens. The manufacturing facility is located in the east of Berlin, and within 60 days, the production rate will be geared up to two million units per year.

“We are also building up the Timesulin R&D group here in Berlin, because this is the right environment for innovation – the city offers the ideal balance of inspiration, young talent, and is within a strong supporting economy,” said Botha.

Because his work is heavily influenced by his graduate MIT research in digital fabrication and the acceleration of physical product innovation, Botha believes they are establishing a new kind of rapid and lean development competency on the global medtech scene, and drawing their strength from the opportunity presented by being in Berlin.

“Maybe I’m misspoken but I don’t believe you can set up a company like this in London, and you definitely cannot do it in New York, because the cost/benefit of early innovation is just way too high. While we also have offices in London and Stockholm, Berlin is the right place for Timesulin to be developing further innovations right now.”