Next Generation of Implantable Heart Pumps Ready for Clinical Trials with Support from Industry-Academia Collaboration

Calon Cardio was founded in 2007 and is located at the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University. Calon Cardio is developing the next generation of implantable blood pumps for the treatment of advanced chronic heart failure, the MiniVAD™, Miniature Ventricular Assist Device.

The full system comprises of:

  • The MiniVAD™ pump, which is being developed for implantation directly in the left ventricle of the failing heart to help provide adequate blood supply to the body, alleviate the debilitating symptoms of heart failure and improve quality of life.
  • A controller, designed to be simple to use and easy to manage, and a compact wearable battery pack.
  • Additional devices for monitoring and support.

The Company’s intent is to apply novel technology and design to produce a VAD with clear advantages over existing approaches including less invasive surgery, low blood damage, reduced thrombus formation and a control system optimized for quality of life.


ASTUTE 2020 is collaborating with Calon Cardio on optimisation of the MiniVAD™. The aim is to achieve the following goals:

  • Suitability: the pump must provide the required blood flow rate to a wide range of patients at different activity levels (e.g. sleeping, reading, exercising).
  • Reliability: as a life support system, the pump must operate consistently 24/7 potentially for the life of the patient.
  • Stability: the pump must provide near silent and vibration-free operation.
  • Size: the overall layout must be very small and with low weight for ergonomic placement in the heart and chest cavity.
  • Cost: cutting edge manufacturing and assembly methods to substantially reduce cost of goods.
  • Blood damage: novel blood flow path that is intended to reduce the risk of blood damage and thrombus formation.


To achieve these ambitious goals advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technologies and sophisticated in-house post-processing tools were utilised. Multiple CFD simulations were employed to gain different insights into the pump performance and contribute towards its optimisation:

  • Flow simulations to construct the pump’s characteristic curves (pressure head-flow rate curves) and estimate the pump’s hydraulic performance.
  • Lagrangian particle tracking simulations to estimate the normalised index of haemolysis using exposure time and scaled shear stresses along particle tracks.
  • Eulerian scalar transport simulations to simulate dye displacement through the pump and visualise the pump’s dynamic flow field for identifying and resolving flow recirculation areas where thrombus is highly likely to form.
  • High resolution transient flow simulations to estimate axial and radial loading on the impeller to help predict the rotor stability.
  • Coupled thermal flow simulations to estimate the temperature profiles and ensure heat generated during pump operation does not damage the myocardium or the blood.
  • Pulsatile flow simulations to study the effect of pressure variation across the pump (left ventricle and Aorta) on the pump’s hydraulic performance.


CFD is used to simulate the intricate blood flow inside the pump and acquire valuable information to enable Calon Cardio to successfully optimise the MiniVAD™ and achieve their goals towards the treatment of advanced heart failure.

The collaboration between ASTUTE 2020 and Calon Cardio resulted in attracting private investment that will enable the clinical trials to start in 2018 and as a result Calon expects to double the size of the company.