I was interviewed by Elize de Gier from Health Holland as part of Mission III of the Dutch Ministery of Health, Welfare and Sports.
Please find the the interview as presented on the Health Holland website and on my LinkedIn site.
People with disabilities are as talented as any other citizen. So, their potential is extremely valuable when it comes to making the health and care sector and new technological and social innovations fit for the future. Moreover, people with disabilities can and want to participate and be an equal member of our society.
However, equal participation in society is not always obvious. This can and must change. Mission III of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport for the Mission-driven Top Sectors and Innovation Policy for the Societal Theme Health & Care therefore states: By 2030, the proportion of people with a chronic disease or lifelong disability who can participate in society according to their wishes and capabilities is increased by 25%.
You can only innovate with impact for people with disabilities if you want to get to know the life of these people. You cannot create experience, you must undergo it. An open and equal approach and knowledge of co-creation is essential.
Although we still have a long way to go, the road to the future has already begun. Get inspired by the new Health~Holland update, join the conversation and participate: whatever your role is, your vision counts!
Signed by Anne-Miek Vroom, Director of IKONE and Theme Team member of Top Sector Life Sciences & Health
The story of Jos
Jos Wetzels takes a positive view on life despite the serious bicycle accident he had in May 2016. As a result, he suffered a spinal cord injury and is now confined to a wheelchair. As an experience expert, he now contributes as a volunteer to several medical studies. Through the roles of connector, motivator, and project leader, he inspires people involved to approach the world with a more positive outlook.
Born and raised in Limburg, Jos is convinced that this region has something to offer the world. He believes it is pivotal to collaborate, because only together we will make it happen. It is his mission to connect companies from all over the world to knowledge institutions in the Limburg region. How?
Jos was a nurse and nurse anaesthetist at the Zuyderland hospital in Sittard before continuing his career as director of operations at Boston Scientific. In May 2016, Jos suffered a serious bicycle accident in the Belgian Ardennes. He immediately realised that something was wrong. Jos: ‘Due to my background in anaesthesia, I realised that I had broken my neck and should not move. Once in the hospital, he needed urgent surgery. Jos: ‘Because I had worked in the operating room, I had seen those operations, and now it was my turn.’ What followed was a long rehabilitation process and many physiotherapy treatments. ‘Now I can walk 10-12 meters with a walker. It took five years, and it is so valuable!’
Task Force Health Care
Before the accident, Jos has participated in trade missions abroad, in collaboration with the Task Force Health Care. They work closely with the ministries and are also partners of Health~Holland. ‘We have to make sure that if we go abroad with companies and universities, we present ourselves as a single entity to such a country. We are a small country with short distances; that is our strength! The Netherlands can still take steps in this regard; first get the projects to the Netherlands and then decide in which region these projects fit best.’
In March 2021, Jos participated as a jury member in the National Healthcare Innovation Award. Does he recommend this competition to other startups? ‘I have experienced it as very positive. It is the ideal way to see what is going on in the field of healthcare innovations. It is also a good opportunity to share knowledge with each other and possibly look for new partners who also want to join’. Finally, Jos would like to advise healthcare entrepreneurs: ‘Talk to people about financing options.
There is a lot of money for innovative programs in Brussels and millions are left untouched every year. One needs to connect to people with the expertise how to gain funding in order to find your way in the jungle of funding opportunities.
Furthermore, collaborate with knowledge institutions in your area and ask about the possibilities of letting students gain experience. As a company, you can benefit from this.’ Finally, Jos places a strong emphasis on connecting: ‘Help each other and refer people to the right organisations.’ Together we will make it happen!