Ministers welcome launch of Health Innovation Hub Ireland

26th September 2016


Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD, today officially launched Health Innovation Hub Ireland, a key element of the Action Plan for Jobs 2016 and the Programme for Government.

The Hub is hosted by University College Cork in partnership with Cork Institute of Technology, the National University of Ireland Galway & Trinity College Dublin and supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland, and the Department of Health through the HSE.

This project will establish Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies, allowing easy interaction with hospitals and primary care centres.

The aim of Health Innovation Hub Ireland is to drive collaboration between the health service and enterprise, leading to the development of new healthcare technologies, products, and services.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said “I am delighted to be launching Health Innovation Hub Ireland today, and to announce its first calls for innovative concepts and ideas in the healthcare field. This project is important because it will foster a unique partnership between the health service and the enterprise sector, with the aim of improving patient outcomes.

I am especially pleased that one of these calls focuses specifically on improving care for older people in the health service.

The innovative ideas will not only come from enterprise - I am pleased to say they will also emerge from within the health service, and I want to encourage people working in healthcare to take part and make proposals.   Health Innovation Hub Ireland has huge potential for improving healthcare and outcomes for patients, as well as for Ireland’s health tech sector. I am confident the development of the Hub will be successful and that it will, ultimately, greatly benefit patient care.”

Welcoming the launch, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, said, “This exciting initiative allows for mutually beneficial interaction between industry and the health system. This is a win-win scenario.  The health service needs products to meet its particular needs, and enterprise needs guidance from users on their developing products, and test-beds for their trials. We have combined exports from our lifesciences and ICT sectors of over €140 billion annually and the strengths of our enterprise base can be leveraged to deliver much needed innovation into our health system and at the same time sustain and create more jobs in these sectors.”

Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan, TD, said, “This is a major initiative in the Action Plan for Jobs and is a key action in Innovation 2020, my Department’s strategy on research, development, science & technology.  Innovation 2020 aims to make Ireland a global leader in innovation and, as Minister with responsibility for innovation, I welcome the establishment of the Health Innovation Hub at a national level which will help us to achieve this objective.  Today’s launch coincides with Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s announcement of a call for proposals and I encourage innovative companies throughout the country as well as healthcare practitioners from within the health service to engage with this initiative.”

Outlining the benefits to enterprise of this initiative, Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said, “The life sciences sector accounts for a significant level of Irelands export revenue and the Health Innovation Hub is an opportunity to further build on our strong international reputation for excellence and innovation in healthcare and ICT. New and emerging enterprises will benefit from the initiative through direct collaboration and co-ordination with health sector stakeholders on opportunities within the marketplace. Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support the initiative, which will ultimately go towards improving our own health service and further elevate Ireland’s status as a global leader in healthcare solutions.”

Welcoming Health Innovation Hub Ireland, Richard Corbridge, Chief Information Officer of the HSE said, “The Health Innovation Hub is a fantastic asset to health care in Ireland. Providing a centre where people can come to foster and build on ideas that could revolutionise our health care system will not only encourage businesses already in this area but will inspire others, within the system and outside of it. The Health Innovation Hub along with the strong relationships that are being developed with other organisations will support innovation and disruption in healthcare. Ultimately this will aid the progression in the creation of a digital fabric and improve the patient experience of healthcare as a whole. We are showcasing some of the amazing technologies disrupting healthcare at the Innovation Showcase, to be held in the Science Gallery on November 22nd and 23rd and have no doubt that next year we will have representatives from the Health Innovation Hub there.  I truly believe that by facilitating innovation and embracing change, we will engage and connect wider communities creating support networks than can build a better health service.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors Health Innovation Hub – a Disruptive Reform in the Action Plan for Jobs

The Health Innovation Hub was included as a Disruptive Reform in APJ 2013 and 2014 as a joint initiative of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Health. A demonstrator or pilot Health Innovation Hub was established in Cork in 2012 and have supported some 20 projects including innovations such as an online tool for GPs to monitor the physical activity of patients via a smartphone or wearable devices, remote patient monitoring and scheduling services to improve patient flow.

An independent evaluation of the pilot was carried out in Q2 2014 and concluded that the Health Innovation Hub has the potential to be a vital component of national innovation infrastructure and its value has been recognised by the relevant stakeholders in the healthcare sector.  On the basis of this positive evaluation Government agreed in July 2014 to establish the Hub at a national level with direct financial support from Enterprise Ireland and in-kind support from the HSE including seconded staff.

Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) will enable healthcare companies to more quickly and more successfully deliver commercial products and services which can create jobs, by providing facilitated access to the health service to validate their products/services in a real life clinical environment.

Based on clinical feedback, they can refine and optimise their products/services to ensure they can ultimately offer the solutions which the healthcare system needs, and secondly, to allow the health service to find efficiencies and improvements by facilitating the Health Services Executive and the wider health care system to engage and participate with innovative companies in creating solutions to everyday challenges.

The launch of Health Innovation Hub Ireland coincides with a call for proposals; including an open and a focussed call.

The Open Call is for innovation into healthcare from companies, or out of healthcare from individuals or teams with good concepts or ideas with no particular theme and all applications impacting health will be considered.

The second Call is a Focussed Call on Improving Care for Older Persons in the Healthcare System, with particular emphasis on the following priority areas:

1.        Development of an “Internet of Things” wearable device alerting nursing staff/family of movements/falls which might assist in the early detection and prevention of incidents

2.        Supporting an integrated care pathway for promoting, enhancing and enabling integrated and patient centred care for older persons

3.        Supporting the Smart Ageing Initiative.

Lifesciences and ICT sectors in Ireland

Ireland has a unique opportunity to deliver a step change in innovation capacity and enhance operational excellence in healthcare given the strengths of our enterprise base in lifesciences and ICT and the opportunities for convergence across these sectors.

Enhanced collaboration between enterprise and the healthcare system can deliver economic growth, improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare service costs. Nine of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world have a base in Ireland, as do eight of the top 10 medtech companies and eight of the top 10 software providers. There are 50,000 jobs in the lifesciences sector in Ireland alone and this sector accounts for half of Ireland’s merchandise exports, at over €56 billion per annum. Recent moves by world ICT providers, Google, Apple and Qualcomm into healthcare services point to the growing convergence opportunity around healthcare and health delivery and digital healthcare services are already a multi-billion dollar industry. Total ICT exports from Ireland reached €84.6 billion in 2013 – giving combined lifesciences and ICT exports of over €140 billion. HIHI will support creation and maintenance of jobs in these key sectors.

Website: www.HIH.ie

ENDS

For further details contact

Nicola Corboy

Press & Media Relations

Enterprise Ireland

Nicola Corboy

+353 1 727 2973