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Ministers Harris and Halligan open second Health Innovation Hub Ireland, strengthening the collaboration between Irish healthcare and Irish businesses

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD, today continued the Health Innovation Hub Ireland growth story by opening the second office in the national network, based at St James Hospital partnered with Trinity College Dublin. Minister Harris was joined at the opening by Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD.

First launched by Minister Harris in Cork in 2016, Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) was established by Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Health, supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to drive collaboration between the health service and enterprise.

This unique joint government initiative, offers 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. HIHI works to impact Irish business and Irish healthcare in three key areas:

  • Industry: Through HIHI, enterprise can access Ireland’s leading health professionals who will pilot and test innovative products, services and devices. Acting as a broker, HIHI matches companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in an Irish clinical setting.
  • Healthcare: A central part of the HIHI remit is to assess ideas and concepts for healthcare innovation from all staff – clinical and non-clinical. HIHI is an open door to all healthcare staff to assess ideas to solutions they have encountered in their work. HIHI acts as mentors and advises on taking an idea and developing it into a service or product.
  • Education: Through an active educational programme, HIHI is engaging right across hospital structures by teaching a new way of thinking to find creative solutions to health challenges. Delivering a series of five HIHI workshops and a diploma in healthcare innovation, HIHI is embedding an innovation culture in Irish healthcare.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, TD, said:

“I am delighted to be launching the new Dublin office of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland here in St. James Hospital today. The Hub is important because it aims to foster a unique partnership between the health service and the enterprise sector which will improve healthcare and outcomes for patients. “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.  I am confident the development of the Hub has huge potential that can, ultimately, greatly benefit patient care.”

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said:

“I’m very pleased with the work the Hub is doing to provide innovative enterprises with the support they need to gain access to the Irish healthcare system. This will afford them the opportunity to develop and test their new healthcare technologies, products, and services, which will in turn help to create Irish jobs and exports.”

“I am delighted to announce the launch of HIHI’s new education programme. Through a series of five workshops, over 12 months – HSE and voluntary hospital staff will gain the tools to experiment, think and propose solutions to the questions and challenges we face today and into the future. Healthcare professionals, across all disciplines and grades, can visit the Hub’s website today, and enrol for the first workshop due to take place here in St James’ Hospital. I encourage them to do so.”

Announced at the opening were details of the HIHI educational programme, designed to build a sustainable culture of improvement and innovation in the Irish health system. Enrolment was opened for the first of a series of five workshops, over 12 months, open to staff within the HSE and voluntary hospitals, which will be beginning in November. (EG to insert LINK here)

HIHI Principal Investigator, Prof Seamas Donnelly, said:

“We are proud that HIHI is establishing Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies, allowing easy interaction with hospitals and primary care centres. But we also want to create a sustainable culture of innovation within the Irish healthcare system so we need to reach the frontline.

“The HIHI education programmes, announced today are designed specifically for clinical staff - to empower problem solvers and convert thinking into action. People who participate in these programmes then become catalysts for innovation within the health system. The overall aim is to embed ambassadors of innovation within the healthcare sector and build a national network of alumni who will foster an internal ecosystem of entrepreneurship within the HSE.”

Operationally HIHI is a partnership of clinical and academic centres from across the country. HIHI works directly with three hospital groups (South/South West, Dublin Midlands and Saolta in the West/North West), but the HIHI network can access all acute and community hospitals, pharmacies, primary care centres and healthcare centres. Academic partners are UCC and CIT, TCD and NUI Galway respectively. HIHI operates an open door policy, across its national network, to both industry and healthcare.

For more information: Eimear Galvin, galvinei@tcd.ie, 0838520016

ENDS

Notes

Images: available post event, to be circulated by 12pm, Thursday October 4.

1. Health Innovation Hub Ireland

Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) works across the health sector with Irish businesses to creatively solve problems and improve patient care. Harnessing this innovation, through development of new healthcare technologies, products, and services, will help to create Irish jobs and exports.

The HIHI national team includes HSE assigned staff from pharmacy to clinical research nurses and biomedical engineers. This mix is further strengthened by team members with both academic and corporate backgrounds.

The Government group tasked with overseeing HIHI – National Oversight Group is chaired by Dave Shanahan and includes: Dept. Health, e health Ireland, HSE, Health Research Board, SFI, DEBI, Enterprise Ireland, IDA.

2. Growth the in success and scale of HIHI in the past three years: 

  • An almost doubling in applications the HHI national call aimed at companies, start-ups, SMEs - 2016:45 applicants, Vs 2018: 66 applicants.
  • In the last two years, Sept 2016 – Sept 2018, HIHI has managed 200 company engagements, ran 25 studies in Irish healthcare settings, 72 companies receiving follow up support through HIHI.
  • From one location in 2016 to three in 2018 (Cork, Dublin, Galway).
  • From four staff members to 20, across the country.

3. 40 per cent increase in HIHI 2018 national call applications

In June 2018 HIHI launched a national call – both focused and open – to Irish industry. The open call was 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. Our partner, the HSE, highlighted a strategic need for the health service in the focused call – ‘Enabling positive ageing’.

The call closed at the end of August and we can now share that we have seen a 40 per cent increase in HIHI national call applications.

  • Total applications were up to 66, from 45 in 2016.
  • Focused call applicants more than doubled this year when compared to 2016, from 28 to 12.
  • Open call also increased, from 33 applications in 2016 to 38 this year.


Next is stage two, where successful applicants are invited to a rigorous competitive pitch process, with representatives from Enterprise Ireland, HSE, Science Foundation Ireland, Health Research Board and other influencers that they would not ordinarily have direct access to.

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