Health Innovation Fellowship



A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for. Please reach out!

What is Biodesign?

The Biodesign innovation process was originally developed by Stanford University which founded it on “the belief that innovation is a process that can be learned, practiced, and perfected. It’s hard work, takes lots of time, and requires multidisciplinary teamwork, but it’s not magic.”
The Biodesign process has since become a global phenomenon, active in e.g. Asia, Australia and Europe. BENEFIT was a part of the EIT Health Needs-led Innovation Fellowships project which was supported by EIT Health until the end of 2021. EU. Needs-Led Innovation Fellowships (NIFs) in that project actively target the key challenges in healthcare.

This answer was updated on 30 June 2022.

How was 2021-2022? When will the new edition start?

The About page gives a brief outline of the programme in 2021-2022. The online bootcamp started in September 2021 and the clinical immersions  ran from October through December 2021 in Leuven or Rotterdam. The implementation phase started in January 2022 and the fellows graduated on 8 June 2022.

The programme was designed to deal with the realities of the coronavirus crisis. It is currently not possible to apply for future editions since the dates and format is being worked on. Do sign up for our mailing list via the  contact form, however, and you will be the first to know more.

This answer was updated on 30 June 2022.

How many fellows are selected for this programme?

For the inaugural edition 2021-2022, we selected 8 fellows. Meet them on our Who's Who page.

Why join?
  1. You will be trained at top notch European institutions, by leaders in health technology innovation. 
  2. You will receive Biodesign innovation training and develop a validated healthcare solution within a real clinical setting.
  3. You will be coached by experts in health, innovation, technology, ...
  4. Your will create real impact with a health solution based on real needs within one year.
  5. You will build global connections thanks to our extensive Biodesign network in Europe and beyond.
  6. You will be able to expand your career opportunities or embark on new career adventures, unimaginable at the start of your journey.
  7. You will work in a real clinical setting full time for about two months, coached by experts in health and technology, and observe daily practices while you search for innovation needs.
  8. You will work in a highly skilled multidisciplinary team learning to understand each other’s views and complementary expertise. You will contribute your own strengths and skills to the team.
How does the fellowship differ from a traditional advanced master’s or postgraduate programme?

BENEFIT is the first programme of its kind in Belgium and the Netherlands. Here is how it differs from other programmes.

  1. the training you receive is experiential rather than theoretical: you will learn primarily by working on your project and interacting with experts rather than sitting in a classroom.
  2. this health innovation fellowship provides you with an overview of the early stages of the innovation process. From identification through clinical immersion and needs finding over invention and implementation planning, you will gain hands-on practice navigating critical risks and opportunities across a broad range of activities.
  3. the fellowship is interdisciplinary and team based. You will finetune your teamwork skills and learn from interacting with peers.
  4. the skills and connections you build are practical, targeted, and immediately applicable to a career in health technology innovation.
  5. the fellows earn a certificate rather than a diploma or degree.
  6. the fellowship does not work with ECTS-credits and does not require a graduation thesis.
How can I prepare for the programme?

Please do keep an eye on this website or sign up for our mailing list so that we can keep you informed about our activities and future calls for applications.

If you feel you fit the candidate profile and are excited about joining the programme, preparing a stellar motivation letter and updating your curriculum vitae is the best way forward.

There is no real need to prepare for the programme in any other way unless you feel you could benefit from improving your Dutch skills. If that is the case, this information from TU Delft and KU Leuven may be useful to you.

Are PhDs eligible to apply for this fellowship? Or applicants who have professional experience?

Definitely. The requirements will be listed on our application page when we launch a call for applications.

Can dentistry students also apply? Or paramedics?

Yes. Visit the application page for further details when we launch a call for applications.

Is this programme open to non-Europeans?

Yes. You will be responsible for arranging your own residence permit plus Schengen visa as required. Since our programme does not offer credits and does not fund you, you will need to arrange this independently although we are happy to send you a confirmation letter if you are selected as a fellow.

What is the level of Dutch required for daily interaction? If you have little to no knowledge in Dutch, is there no chance to be accepted into the programme?

During the clinical immersions, the main language for interaction with patients and staff at the clinical immersion sites in Leuven and Rotterdam will be Dutch. That is why we list 'understand Dutch' as a requirement when we open the call for applications. If you do not know any Dutch, you can still apply but we ask you to explain how you think this will not hinder the rest of your team.

How much does the programme cost?

The inaugural fellows were only expected to cover the costs for the programme and study materials as well as incidentals. Incidentals include the occasional travel and accommodation expenses to and from Belgium and the Netherlands, when required, but also meals and insurances when not covered by KU Leuven, TU Delft or Erasmus University Medical Centre. Neither KU Leuven nor TU Delft charged a tuition fee.

In addition, we provide administrative support to fellows who are applying for local or international grants that cover this training programme. 

We are actively looking for partners interested in supporting the fellows financially and will update the website as soon as we have more news.

Meanwhile, we have compiled a non-exhaustive list of useful links that may be useful to cover your participation. If you have more suggestions, let us know via the contact form.

Am I expected to start a company when I complete the BENEFIT health innovation fellowship? Is it always a product that you achieve in the end or can it be that you work on a management problem and then try to implement and validate a kind of clinical care model that would suit better?

As we explained in this blog post, we do not steer you or your team members towards a solution in advance, nor do we have expectations towards your career path once you graduate. We post alumni stories on our blog to inspire you but - again - there is no preset path for you to take.

What we do know, however, is that we wish to stay in touch with you and other BENEFIT alumni through e.g. our Linkedin page and the EIT Health alumni platform.

I am already working on a medical device or solution or I have an idea for one I wish to develop. Can I continue to develop it during the fellowship? Will BENEFIT provide funding for my idea?

The BENEFIT programme will train you and your team members in the Biodesign process of innovation from scratch. We will ask you to work on needs, solutions and technologies that you and your team members identify and invent together as part of the journey described on the About page.

As we explained in this blog post, we do not steer you or your team members towards a solution in advance.

While the skills you will learn during the BENEFIT health innovation fellowship may be useful for your project or project idea, you should not expect to be working on it as part of our training.

BENEFIT will provide information on funding as part of the fellowship programme but is not a funding programme.

How does the collaboration Leuven-Delft/Rotterdam work? Does the programme take place in both locations? Or do you choose a main base?

For the inaugural edition of 2021, teams were assigned a main site for the clinical immersions. You can mark your preference as part of the application process. During the programme, our 2021 fellows were expected to travel to the ‘other site’ on occasion and cover the costs related to it.

Considering the various online communication options, we expect that we can leverage such experiences also during the coming years. It is difficult to assess in advance how often that will be but we realise that team dynamics and brainstorming are hard to be replaced by online activities.

This answer was updated on 30 June 2022.

What does a typical day or week look like during the programme, in terms of workload?

While we will have a schedule set up by the start of the programme, you should know that meetings and sessions are scheduled (by us or your team members) as the needs arise so we cannot describe a typical day or week in advance.

In general, we ask you to be available on weekdays during the entire programme. During the clinical immersion, you should expect to be present onsite fulltime as well. Outside the clinical immersion, you will not have to be present full time but you will have to be available to follow sessions, meet with your team, conduct research, speak to experts, travel to the other site, …

We plan 2 weeks’ vacation during Christmas and one week for Easter. Dutch and Belgian holidays are observed too.

Will the final solution be prototyped and tested or will it be more conceptual in nature? Will the final solution be made on a team level or individual level?

It is a team project and your team will come up with one joint solution. After the project has ended, however, it may be that all, none or only a few members are interested to turn the ideas into a real business and/or continue working towards a solution that will lead to patient impact. This is perfectly acceptable. In our blog you will find some alumni stories as examples as well as an explanation as to why we do not have preset expectations towards the solution.

What will be the dynamic between fellows and education coordinators during this fellowship?

Maarten and Armaĝan lead the educational programme and teach as well as coach you. BENEFIT relies on the expertise of other lecturers from the partner institutions as well as from other programmes within our network. Fellows have a team coach and receive coaching from other professionals, e.g. medical professionals during the clinical immersions. In addition, we will bring onboard experts who will share their experiences with you and give you advice.

We list many experts on the Who's who page which we launched on 21 May 2021.

Are there experiences from alumni of other programmes students to read?

Certainly, check our blog for alumni stories and links to the pages of the other networks. Many of our colleagues (e.g., Denmark, Ireland, Spain) list the current fellows and alumni on their websites.

Of course, each programme is different as are people's personal experiences. Since BENEFIT is the first programme that covers two countries, we are quite unique.