The “Mobile Autonomy for Children in End-stage Heart Failure” (MACH) project wins the 2020 Horizon Impact Award. This project was an international collaboration between RWTH Aachen University, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle University, and Berlin Heart GmbH to develop and launch a mobile driving unit for the EXCOR® ventricular assist device, a blood pump to assist a failing heart.


The Horizon Impact award celebrates outstanding EU funded projects that have used their results to provide value for society across Europe and beyond.  The MACH project was funded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology EIT Health programme, and led by Professor Carina Benstöm from the RWTH Aachen. This program successfully brought together experts from academia, healthcare and industry to work towards a common goal – to improve the lives of children waiting for a heart transplant” explains Professor Benstöm.

The EXCOR® Active driving unit provides mobility to children with end-stage heart failure waiting for a heart transplant.  Children can spend months and sometimes several years in hospital waiting for an organ.  The goal of this project was to reduce the stress and impact of a long term hospitalisation on the children and their families, by offering them mobility and autonomy in their daily lives in the hospital environment. Children who have been very sick need to recover, build up muscles, explore and play. This is now possible with the new mobile device.

During the waiting time for a donor heart, these young heart patients are looked after by a team of dedicated nurses, intensive care doctors, surgeons, cardiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, play leaders and psychologists who help the family to cope and to become experts in their child’s care. “Patients and families were given a voice in the project through interviews discussing how to make their experience more positive.  The device and the new learning platform will benefit the family as well as the child waiting for a donor heart” says Dr Emma Simpson from Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, whose team worked with researchers from Newcastle University.

The Berlin Heart EXCOR® Pediatric is the only Ventricular Assist Device approved worldwide for short to long term support in children of all ages with heart failure*.  This project supported development of a smaller, lighter more mobile driving unit with a longer battery time by switching from a compressor technology to piston drivers, which are lighter and quieter.  Since attaining CE Mark last year, the “EXCOR Active” has supported the first patients in Germany.  “At Berlin Heart, we understand that patient-centred innovation requires close collaboration between engineering, health care professionals and end-users” states Sven-Rene Friedel. “We are happy to see the positive impact of the EXCOR Active recognized by such a prestigious award” adds Dr Ares K. Menon, Managing Director of Berlin Heart.

The 10.000€ prize money from the award will be donated to projects such as a facility that supports families staying near their hospitalised children in Munich and key initiatives with long-term benefit to patients at Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.”

For more information regarding the award please see: 

*The access to some or all shown products may be restricted by country-specific regulatory approvals. The use of EXCOR® VAD for adults, RVAD-support, Excor mobile and EXCOR® Active is not FDA-approved.”



About RWTH Aachen University

With 260 institutes in nine faculties, RWTH Aachen University is one of Europe’s leading institutions for science and research. 

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About the Uniklinik RWTH Aachen (AöR)

 The Uniklinik RWTH Aachen is a supramaximal care provider that combines patient-oriented medicine and nursing, teaching and research at an international level. With 36 specialist clinics, 28 institutes and six interdisciplinary units, the University Hospital covers the entire medical spectrum. Excellently qualified teams of doctors, nurses and scientists are competently committed to the health of the patients. The bundling of patient care, research and teaching in one central building offers the best conditions for intensive interdisciplinary exchange and close clinical and scientific networking. Around 8.000 employees provide patient-oriented medicine and care according to recognized quality standards. With 1.400 beds, the University Hospital treats around 50.000 inpatient and 200.000 outpatient cases per year.

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About Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Newcastle Hospitals have provided patient-centered healthcare for over 250 years. They are one of the largest NHS Trusts in the UK, offering a wide range of specialist services. Freeman Hospital offers the full range of cardiac services to all ages. It is one of only 2 UK paediatric heart transplant centres, specialises in complex congenital heart disease and is a worldwide leader in heart and lung transplantation. Multi-disciplinary research and team working is one of their strengths, focusing on and enhancing every aspect of a patient’s health and development. Close co-operation with research leaders at Newcastle University enables the success of projects such as MACH.

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About Newcastle University

Newcastle University is a well-established top-flight academic institution that aspires to be a people-focused university that exists to harness academic excellence, innovation and creativity to bring benefits to individuals, to organisations and to society as a whole. There is a close collaboration at multiple levels between Newcastle University and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust facilitating clinical research with a university support and governance structure.

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About Berlin Heart 

Berlin Heart GmbH develops, manufactures, and markets innovative ventricular assist devices (VADs) for mechanical circulatory support. With the EXCOR® Adult and the EXCOR® Pediatric, Berlin Heart is the only company in the world able to provide support to patients of every age and size, from infants to adults.

Berlin Heart’s systems provide left ventricular, right ventricular, or biventricular support (both sides); hospitals around the world use the system for short-, medium-, and long-term circulatory support, providing patients with a life-saving treatment option.

Users can also access round-the-clock medical and technical support.

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About EIT Health

Europe faces a turning point in health. An ageing population, the rising burden of chronic disease, and growing multi-morbidity are all placing pressure on health systems across Europe.

EIT Health is a vast, vibrant community of world leading health innovators backed by the European Union. Working across borders, our network connects approximately 150 world-class partner organisations, as well as entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs from the worlds of business, research, education and healthcare delivery. Our aim is to answer the biggest health challenges Europe faces and we believe that life changing innovation happens when these worlds meet and collaborate. That’s why we call this the 'knowledge triangle’.

From our headquarters in Munich, six regional Innovation Hubs and InnoStars cluster, which brings together organisations from regions in which the overall pace of innovation is more moderate, we provide an ecosystem in which fresh thinking can thrive. Our Regional Innovation Scheme further expands our presence in 13 countries across Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. EIT Health also leads the development of the EIT Hub in Israel, which connects innovators across Europe to other key thriving ecosystems beyond the EU.

EIT Health is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. Our ambition is to enable people in Europe to live longer, healthier lives by transforming businesses and delivering new products and services that can progress healthcare in Europe and strengthen our economy.

EIT Health: Together for healthy lives in Europe. 

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