Health Innovation Hub Ireland offers unique quid pro quo to enterprise and the HSE, as it launches national ‘dragons den’ style call for Irish start ups

Press Release | Posted on: 19 June, 2018

Government initiative, Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI), today launched a national call – both focussed and open – to industry. HIHI works across the health sector with Irish businesses to solve problems, improves the health service and in the process helps to create jobs and exports. The annual HIHI call brings finalists together for a national dragon’s den style pitch, with the winning products fast tracked into Ireland’s health service for study.

This 2018 call is aimed at companies, start-ups, SMEs, who have innovative products or services that are at pre-commercial, demonstration or late development phase and have the potential to significantly impact healthcare.  HIHI offers a unique tailor made pathway for start-ups seeking pilot or validation studies for commercialisation.

The first stage of the HIHI call will be open until August 31, during which time companies must submit an application, available on At stage two, successful applicants are invited to a rigorous competitive pitch process, with representatives from Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Health Research Board, HSE and other influencers that they would not ordinarily have direct access to.

At stage three, HIHI acts as a broker, matching companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in a real life Irish clinical setting and authors a report upon completion of the study. The completed report can offer leverage for products in international markets, enhance distribution opportunities and inform further development.

HIHI National Director, Dr Colman Casey said:

“HIHI provides a unique quid pro quo – we offer companies the opportunity for pilot and clinical validation studies and the health service access to innovative products, services, devices, that they may otherwise not be exposed to.

“These studies offer added credibility with investors and may help with early adoption. The fact is if you have not tested your product in a clinical setting, then commercialisation is distinctly more difficult.  Or the HIHI study may identify that a product needs further refinement after observing its use by a clinical team, which is crucial prior to achieving commercial return on any product or device.”

HIHI partner, the HSE, has highlighted a strategic need for the health service in the focussed call – ‘Enabling positive ageing’ and although all products will be considered for the HIHI pitch, the HSE has asked that companies also consider impact in:

  • Dementia Care
  • Integrated Care
  • Limiting acute hospital admissions
  • Promoting healthy living for longer
  • Minimising polypharmacy
  • Promoting increased independence at home
  • Providing care closer to home

The HSE faces many pressures including an ageing population, rising incidence of long-term conditions, increased costs and budget limitations.

HIHI National Lead and Principal Investigator, Prof John Higgins said:

 “The HSE recognises that collaboration with enterprise can benefit patient care, patient pathways and outcomes. Although HIHI operates an open door policy to both start-ups and the healthcare community, we also work with our partners on focussed calls such as this.

“Our population is growing older, with the number of people aged 65 years and over increasing from 11% in 2011 to 13% in 2016. And this trend will continue; forecasts tell us that the number of people aged over 65 will increase by a further 18% to 753,000 in the next five years. HIHI can provide solutions here, working in partnership with the HSE.”

 HIHI works directly with three hospital groups (South/South West, Dublin Midlands and Saolta in the West/North West).  Pitch winners will effectively have express access to these 23 hospitals, community healthcare facilities and three clinical research networks and HIHI network can access other acute and community hospitals, pharmacies, primary care centres and healthcare centres.