In November 2017, IMT became an associate partner of EIT Health, a European program for improving research on new technologies in e-health. Bernadette Dorizzi, director of research and the doctoral program at Télécom SudParis, explains the objectives of this partnership, and how it will contribute to developing IMT projects on e-health topics.
What is EIT health and what are its objectives?
Bernadette Dorizzi – EIT Health is a consortium of 50 core partners and 90 associated partners from 14 different EU countries. It brings together companies such as Air Liquide, Sanofi-Aventis, Siemens Healthineer, research organizations including CEA and INRIA and universities like Imperial College in London, the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Munich. EIT Health is arranged in national “nodes” with European governance. The French node is extremely active and won the most projects last year!
This consortium offers funding and connections within an ecosystem of startups, manufacturers and academics to develop and enhance projects in the area of e-health. For example, a researcher who is developing a concept can work with a startup to develop a prototype, and then with a larger company that will enhance and distribute the device. Other projects, of larger financial amounts, are aimed at addressing societal problems, such as the autonomy of dependent persons at their homes. They are carried out by large companies in association with SMES, whose participation is highly valued. The overall objective is to take research out of the laboratories, so it can make a more significant impact on society.
In addition to events and meetings for sharing ideas and projects, EIT Health proposes training sessions on major issues related to innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, Sanofi is currently developing a training program on the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, which will come into effect in Europe as early as April of next year. It is an interesting symbiotic relationship: the academics are not the only ones receiving training, manufacturers are too!
Our goal within EIT Health is of course to promote our research projects. At IMT, we have a cross-cutting program on “Health, autonomy and well-being”, and we are looking for partners for developing projects.
What areas is EIT Health involved in?
B.D. – EIT Health is involved in new technologies and big data in the e-health sector, and particularly issues such as preventive care, home support for the elderly, improving the employability and autonomy of dependent persons, and the care provided to patients with chronic diseases.
A new call for proposals focuses on “wild card” projects, which are very innovative and high risk, on very precise subjects. In 2018, they focus on resistance to antibiotics and the use of data in personalized medicine.
What added benefit does IMT bring to these issues?
B.D. – IMT is offering EIT Health its ecosystem, which represents a wealth of research and innovation in health technologies and services, in a field where it is a national player and is internationally recognized. For example, a number of our researchers are working on connected objects in health, for the quality of life and independence of vulnerable individuals. We are currently conducting a project called Solsens, financed by the “Health, autonomy and well-being” seed fund in 2017. This inter-school project looks at flooring technology that could detect walking movements and falls and could send this information to a smartphone or computer. These products are manufactured by the German company Future Shape. Our researchers have worked on this concept to develop serious games that reproduce the walking path that was taken and want to develop new applications for this connected flooring. They would like to find a partnership with a manufacturer to develop this device on a larger scale.
The spin-off companies and incubated companies at the different IMT campuses also represent a significant contribution to the EIT Health dynamic. As part of a project on anonymizing personal health data, a team of researchers from IMT Atlantique created a small startup and are seeking to further establish themselves in order to offer their services to e-health stakeholders. This is exactly the type of situation in which our collaboration with EIT Health could be beneficial.
In addition, various technological platforms, such as Teralab, a big data and artificial intelligence platform featuring an authorized system hosting health data, clearly illustrate the added benefit IMT brings to EIT’s activities.
For the time being, IMT is an associate partner. If the partnership goes well, and we obtain good results from the current projects, we will consider becoming a core partner in order to carry out projects on a larger scale.
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