Company: Mathcomp Medical Systems B.V.

The Dutch company Mathcomp Medical Systems was started by the entrepreneur Hugo Brunsveld van Hulten to help physicians in their fight against breast cancer.


The company is based upon his invention ActiveFU, which combines two known technologies: the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique used to locate and diagnose cancerous tissue, and the high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) used to 'burn' malignant cells. Brunsveld van Hulten’s invention will combine HIFU with the recent advances in MRI capabilities to provide a real-time view of the cancerous area during treatment.

This could offer cancer patients a new non-invasive treatment option that is more patient-friendly and without the negative side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation. Benefits for the patient include less discomfort and little risk of disfigurement, and the public health care system saves because the treatment does not require hospitalisation.

The new technique under development can be used to treat any small and localised tumours but initially Brunsveld van Hulten has decided to focus on the treatment of breast cancer.

Project: ActiveFU

ActiveFU uses MRI technology for diagnosis and to steer the focus of the ultrasound HIFU beam through the tumour volume and tune the temperature appropriately to 'cut' cancer tissues. The system projects the ultrasound energy of the individual HIFU-beams into the body, with a focal point steered by the MRI, to create a hot spot where cancer cells have been identified. This hot spot heats the tissue in the human body from outside the body and results in necrosis of the tumour cells.

From space to industry

In contrast to the general perception of space technology transfer, ActiveFU uses two existing and well-proven technologies: HIFU and MRI. It is innovative in that it combines the two technologies and to achieve this, careful analysis, design and development were needed.

To combine HIFU and MRI required miniaturization and integration of microelectronic and mechanical elements, control of the HIFU beams, issues such as EMC emission, heat management and field mathematics have to be addressed. All these are issues similar to those faced by ESA engineers for every new space mission.

ActiveFU at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility

The use of methodologies and laboratories used for space systems' development made it possible to overcome many of these challenges. The first level of design was completed with the support of ESA engineers and the use of ESTEC's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF), an advanced methodology used by ESA to handle the complex design of space missions and subsystems.

Real-time mathematical space models were used for computation of an efficient and viable configuration of ActiveFU. The design of the field pattern and the form of the special hot spot was achieved by use of ESA's inverse phased-array space antenna mathematical analysis. Space expertise and methodologies were also used to design and present the real-time ActiveFU results.

ESA Business Incubation

The ESTEC Business Incubator allowed the start-up company Mathcomp Medical Systems to bring the development from a theoretical concept to an initial design and to arrange workshops with ESA engineers and experts from the medical world.

In addition, the incubator assisted in establishing business contacts with healthcare organisations and companies, hospitals and private clinics, and private and institutional investors for the further development of ActiveFU.

Incubation period and location

ActiveFU will offer a non-invasive treatment option for cancer
Hugo Brunsveld van Hulten demonstrates ActiveFU

Mathcomp Medical Systems was hosted at ESA Business Incubation centre at ESTEC from August 2003 to December 2006.


Hugo Brunsveld van Hulten, inventor


Hugo Brunsveld van Hulten
Phone: +31 (0)70 3872090
Email: info @

Mathcomp Medical Systems B.V.
Parkweg 239
2271 BB Voorburg
The Netherlands

Last update: 24 October 2008

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