Entrepreneur for women’s health

’Every doctor’s surgery should have a Pregnolia system,’ says
’Every doctor’s surgery should have a Pregnolia system,’ says Sabrina Badir. The gynaecology practice Gynhealth was the first clinic to offer her measuring device as part of its routine care. (Photograph: ETH Zurich / Markus Bertschi)
For her doctoral project at ETH Zurich, Sabrina Badir developed a device that determines the risk of premature birth. Today she is the CEO of spin-off Pregnolia, and her certified measuring device is being used in more than 20 clinics and medical practices.

"I became an entrepreneur almost by chance," says Sabrina Badir, a biomechanics engineer and founder and CEO of ETH spin-off external page Pregnolia call_made. Badir completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at ETH Zurich. For her doctoral project, she developed a prototype of a device that accurately measures cervical stiffness in pregnancy. This helps gynaecologists to determine the risk of premature birth.

Having completed her doctoral studies, she was keen to continue her research project but unsure which path to follow - until a trainer on a project-management course suggested she set up her own company. Inspired by this idea, Badir applied for a Pioneer Fellowship at ETH, which gave her the skills she needed to translate the results of her research into a marketable product. "The Fellowship programme gave me the courage and confidence to dip my toes into the world of entrepreneurship and, ultimately, to set up my own company," she says. Not long after, she attended a start-up speed dating event at ETH. There, she met bioengineer Francisco Delgado - and the two of them proved to be a perfect match. They became business partners in 2016 and founded the start-up Pregnolia. Four years later, they were granted CE certification for their measuring device, allowing it to be sold in Switzerland and throughout the EU. The first clinic to offer the Pregnolia system as part of its routine care was the gynaecology practice Gynhealth. Since then, it has been adopted by over 20 Swiss clinics and medical practices.

During her doctoral studies, Badir built up a close collaboration with the University Hospital Zurich. Today, she works with national and international experts in clinical research, using innovative technology to improve pregnancy care. Pregnolia intends to develop further applications for gynaecologists that will be useful at various stages of pregnancy, and Badir has ambitious plans for the future: "My vision is that one day every doctor’s surgery will have a Pregnolia system alongside its ultrasound machine."
Karin Köchle