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HIHI Centre in Cork Institute of Technology officially opens

| Posted on: 21 May, 2019
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The official opening of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) Centre in CIT by Mr. Jim Daly, T.D., Minister for Mental Health and Older People and CIT’s president, Dr. Barry O’Connor took place on Monday 20thMay at Cork Institute of Technology.

Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) was officially established as a national entity in 2016 with the aim of driving collaboration between the health service and enterprise, leading to the development of new healthcare technologies, products and services.

The HIHI consortium, led by University College Cork, now incorporates CIT, NUI Galway, TCD and all of their associated hospital groups. HIHI is supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Health Service Executive with the dual goal of supporting Irish companies to provide solutions to the Irish healthcare system.

The opening of the HIHI offices in CIT today, marks the ‘official’ expansion of HIHI to the CIT campus, however CIT has always played a vital role in supporting HIHI projects and the partnership has been delivering outputs since the early days of the Hub.

HIHI has three pillars of activity: Industry, Healthcare and Education. The first is geared towards companies with innovative solutions that can impact the healthcare system.The second pillar of HIHI’s activity involves capturing and supporting ideas that have been developed by those within healthcare and the third pillar is delivering an education programme to those working in healthcare that informs and encourages innovation in the Irish healthcare context.

Healthcare needs to be proactive; technology and innovation is enabling this. What we do at HIHI is to identify good innovations and solutions, test, validate and demonstrate their benefit; it’s about providing solutions that have impact”said Professor John Higgins, Principal Investigator and Clinical Lead of  Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

The CIT hub of HIHI is playing a pivotal role in assisting companies to harness and develop these new technologies. HIHI in CIT is based within the MEDIC Centre and provides design, development and prototyping expertise that is critical for health care product development. HIHI companies also benefit for CIT’s Innovation Ecosystem which includes the Nimbus and CAPPA Research Centres as well as the Rubicon Centre for start-ups. HIHI in CIT is ideally placed to provide the tech know-how and support for companies intent on developing new and innovative healthcare systems and products in the region. The HIHI partnership facilitates access to the healthcare system through the academic partners in UCC, TCD and NUI Galway and their hospital groups; the South-South West Hospital group, the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and the Soalta Healthcare Group.

Dr Barry O’Connor President of CIT said:

The opening of the HIHI offices in CIT is formally recognising what has always been a strong collaborative relationship. CIT and UCC have worked together on health innovations since the pilot days of the Health Innovation Hub. CIT has delivered a number of exciting projects including a pilot, based in Mitchelstown, using technology to enable a community to provide care and support for older or vulnerable people in their community. This project is a collaboration between Independent Living Ireland, Friendly Call Cork, HIHI and CIT’s Nimbus Research Centre and is supported by Enterprise Ireland and Cork County Council through SBIR programme. CIT is also home to a significant number of other Biomedical devices and biomedical engineering research and development projects which complement our activity within the general health informatics space”.

Speaking at the opening Minister Daly said “I am delighted to be launching the HIHI centre in CIT today – it’s an important component of the HIHI initiative.  One important strength of HIHI is fostering a unique partnership between the health service and the enterprise sector, with the aim of supporting Irish companies and improving patient outcomes.

I am especially pleased that the calls for projects over the last couple of years has improving care for older people in the health service as a particular focus. I look forward to seeing, in the coming years, how the projects that are being supported by HIHI demonstrate their contribution to the jobs agenda, to improvements in patient care, find efficiencies in service delivery and support health service practitioners in bringing innovative ideas to fruition”. 

According to Jane O’Flynn, Project Manager at CIT HIHI centre, “The CIT HIHI office is going from strength to strength since its inception in 2016. We provide the expertise to guide and to advise on design, validation and commercialisation, where companies need to test or validate a product.  We do this within the healthcare system providing clinical access that would not normally be available to them.  We are ideally based here at CIT with such a rich medical innovation ecosystem, strengthened by our HIHI partners, to provide this knowledge to the health industry.” For further information, please contact JaneOFlynn@cit.ie

  • Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) was officially launched on September 26th, 2016. HIHI, is hosted by University College Cork in partnership with Cork Institute of Technology, the National University of Ireland Galway and Trinity College Dublin and supported by the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
  • Through this academic partnership HIHI is linked with three hospital groups in Ireland- the South-South West Hospital Group, the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and the Saolta Healthcare Group, providing access to 23 hospitals, 3 clinical research facilities and the network of community based healthcare entities and pharmacies linked to these hospital groups.
  • The aim of Health Innovation Hub Ireland is to drive collaboration between the health system and enterprises leading to the development and commercialisation of new healthcare technologies, products, and services, emerging from within the health system and/or enterprise. HIHI aims to establish Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies to interface easily with hospitals and primary care centres and to support the development of new products and technologies from companies and from individuals working within healthcare
  • What CIT brings to HIHI – expertise in engineering, design and development- delivered through Medic and the School of Engineering and Science and the expertise of the Nimbus Research Centre. Through the collaborative engagement HIHI companies and innovators can access prototyping facilities, receive advice and guidance on product design and development
  • What HIHI brings to CIT – access to the clinical experts, including the South-South West Hospital Group and through the extended HIHI partnership, the Saolta Healthcare Group and the Dublin Midlands Group. Collaborative support for start-up ecosystem within CIT- including the Rubicon and New Frontiers Programme. Access to the healthcare system is critical for any company who intends to validate a potential clinical solution.

Health Innovation Hub Ireland was officially launched in September 2016,

since then:

Innovation In tothe Healthcare system

  • HIHI has managed 237 company engagements 149 of these have resulted in follow-up support activities and 59 of these have developed into active projects within the Irish healthcare system. (Innovation In),
  • The most recent Call for innovation solutions was completed earlier this year, with 25 company projects selected from a total of 71 applications.

Of these 71 applications, 30 were to the Focussed Call- which sought innovations to ‘Enable Positive Ageing’.

The 9 projects selected under the Focussed Call are provided in table 1 below.

(Case Study: Independent Living Ireland with Friendly Call Cork – community based care of older persons- see below)

Innovation Outof the healthcare system- Healthcare staff ideas

  • HIHI staff have engaged with 129 new healthcare ideas presented by healthcare staff, 113 of these have resulted in HIHI providing follow-up advice and support and 35 of these have developed into projects where a full HIHI Technology Assessment was performed.

(Case Study: The development of an exercise and weight management programme for people with osteoarthritis of the knee -see below).

  • The HIHI PI (Prof John Higgins) and Director (Dr Colman Casey) have initiated discussions with the UL Hospital Group, Queens University Belfast and the Mater Hospital with respect to expansion of the current HIHI partnership.

Education and Culture Change:

  • The HIHI Workshop programme was launched with workshop 1 delivered to three locations (Dublin, Galway and Cork), with 56 healthcare employees attending. Workshop 2 is open for registration now. https://hih.ie/engage/education-workshops/
  • HIHI Diploma in Health Innovation was approved through TCD and is open for registrations for a September 2019 intake.

Case Study: Technology Enabled Community Based Care of Older Persons.

Amicitia is a hybrid social enterprise based in Athenry, Co. Galway. Along with their trading partner, Independent Living Ireland (ILI), it delivers technology and social supports to empower socially disadvantaged members of society and build smart, sustainable communities. ILI is currently developing a technology platform, which builds on the features of existing smart technologies and extend these, using the next generation ‘Internet of Things’ applications to support the elderly and those with disabilities. A prototype of the platform is currently being tested in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. The platform is being developed in partnership with Friendly Call Cork and Nimbus Research Centre in Cork Institute of Technology. It is supported by Cork County Council and Enterprise Ireland through the Small Business Research Innovation (SBIR) programme. Health Innovation Hub Ireland is coordinating and facilitating the project. The platform was co-designed with the members of community. Wearable and ambient fall detection technologies are included in the platform. These technologies can be used both in the home and the community. This is a true example of collaborative engagement between industry, the community and our health and academic centres.

Case Study:The development of an exercise and weight management programme for people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Jane O’Flynn, CIT is working with Dr Brenda Monahan, a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist based in Our Lady’s Hospital Navan to assist her in the development of a programme aimed at managing quality of life for patients with knee osteoarthritis. This programme focuses on exercise and weight management, to help reduce pain and improve function, assisting patients to prolong the time to surgery, or to minimise pain pre-surgery.