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A new company in the Erasmus MC Incubator: U-diet

The Erasmus MC Campus welcomes a new start-up in the Incubator: U-diet, a diet program for overweight people. Developed from PhD research by co-founder Kirsten Berk, and taken on by the Diabetes Fonds and co-founder Raoul Oostenbrink, the start-up is on the verge of the launch of their proven successful method.

A dietitian in your pocket – that is how Raoul Oostenbrink describes U-diet. U-diet is a scientifically proven diet program for overweight people, that combines working with a dietitian and an app that coaches you through the program and supports the process. The one year program combines two elements: an intervention – a very low calory diet that quickly realizes weight loss – followed by maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight, all under professional guidance from dietitians. Raoul: “What is special about U-diet, is that it cannot only achieve significant weight loss, but that it’s also manageable for clients and patients to keep that weight off long term.”

From research to start-up

Dr. Kirsten Berk has been working at Erasmus MC for 17 years, with dietetics as her expertise and a passion for diabetes and nutrition. Why? “With this group of people, you see so clearly the link between nutrition and their illness,” she says. “When they start dieting, they notice they need less medication and their lab values improve, which motivates them to continue. You can help people realize they are doing this themselves. That makes people very proud.”

Dr. Kirsten Berk

Partially funded by the Diabetes Fonds, Kirsten performed six-year PhD research on this specific form of dieting and its effects on 200 overweight people with diabetes type 2. Her research delivered good results with patients needing only a third of their insulin, being able to stay on a more healthy weight after two years, and a general improvement of their quality of life.

As business development consultant, Raoul advises the Diabetes Fonds about new promising ideas and developments in technologies. When he saw Kirsten’s proposition in 2018, he was immediately enthusiastic. “Then it quickly became clear: let’s do it together.” To make sure this research would be developed into a product that would benefit patients, the Diabetes Fonds invited Kirsten to a valorization program. Kirsten then involved the Erasmus MC Technology Transfer Office for supporting in the process of licensing, contracts and advice on how to start a business. She also received an European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) fellowship and award that allowed her to future shape this start-up idea.

Move to the Erasmus MC Incubator

In the following years, Kirsten and Raoul continued to develop U-diet, with support of the Dutch Research Council (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) and the EIT. Now, Kirsten and Raoul are ready to launch the program and app, while also establishing their first office in the Incubator on the Erasmus MC Campus.

The Erasmus MC Incubator is lab and office space for early stage innovative start-ups in Life Sciences & Health, currently located on the Erasmus MC Campus and in the Rotterdam Science Tower, and managed by the Erasmus MC Technology Transfer Office. “It was always a wish for us to be part of the Incubator, so we could be closer to the network,” says Raoul. “We had to be more established first, and now we have reached that point.” Being located on the campus makes access to the medical center and its resources easier. Kirsten: “It is great to be so close together now. Having an office in the Incubator makes it easier to come together, also for meetings with stakeholders. It feels like U-diet belongs more to Erasmus MC now.”

Rotterdam Square is proud to have U-diet in the network and join the campus. If you want to know more, please visit their website Also read this success story of a patient who achieved great results from the program (in Dutch). Are you a starting company in Life Sciences & Health interested in establishing in Rotterdam? Please contact us.

Date: February 5, 2024