The European Commission invests €16 million in DIH-HERO (Digital Innovation Hubs in Healthcare Robotics), a European project which aims to boost innovation and implementation of robotics in healthcare. The project consortium, which is led by the University of Twente (as coordinator), consists of 17 partners spread across 10 European countries. The consortium is aimed to establish an independent platform meant to connect businesses, knowledge institutes, investors and other stakeholders, facilitate collaboration and support them to make their products and services in the field of robotics available to healthcare providers.
The University of Twente has a leading role in this project and coördinates the activities of the European network. Stefano Stramigioli, professor in robotics at the University of Twente and coordinator of the pan-European network, explains: “The route for embedding medical innovations in clinical practice is tough, time-consuming and requires substantial investments. It involves clinical testing, developing efficient production methods, reaching investors, establishing a company and handling distribution, just to mention a few steps. Furthermore, multiple actors are working on various innovations in robotics. Within DIH-HERO, we can make sure that these strengthen and supplement each other where possible.”
The European Commission aims to accelerate this ‘innovation cycle’ throughout the entire value chain, making sure that the products and services are developed efficiently by connecting the relevant stakeholders. Each of the 17 partners within the consortium represents a network of healthcare- and knowledge institutes, investors and commercial businesses active in robotics for healthcare.
While lobbying for the project, the university received important help from the topsector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the province of Overijssel in the form of letters of support. Eddy van Hijum, deputy for the Economy of the province of Overijssel portfolio, explains: “Overijssel gladly joins the DIH-HERO project for multiple reasons. We believe in the importance of robotics in healthcare and see this project as a great way to boost innovation in this area. We expect a lot from the coöperation between education, research and entrepreneurs. Together, we can put forth initiatives to ensure that patients profit faster from the many advantages that the application of robotics in healthcare will yield.”
Through joining forces, it is planned to build up a DIH-HERO platform during the next four years. This platform will significantly leverage added value throughout the entire value chain in the healthcare ecosystem, by sharing knowledge, connecting the right stakeholders and stimulating tailored investments.
“We are delighted with this grant of €16 million, of which more than €8 million will be distributed to commercial companies in order to support their efforts in development and implementation of digital technologies”, Stefano Stramigioli states.
SME’s and midcaps located in Europe can apply for funding in open calls from summer 2019 until spring 2021. Funding will be available for travelling, the development of demonstrators and technology transfer.
“We are convinced that DIH-HERO can make a real difference concerning innovation in healthcare and will add significant value throughout the value chain, striving to bring excellent products and services to the market, to the best benefit of the end-consumer - the patient”, Stramigioli concludes.
Within the University of Twente both the Technical Medical Centre and the Digital Society Institute are involved with the project. Next to DIH-HERO, the UT is also involved in the RIMA project, in which a similar network will work on the application of robotics for inspection and maintenance of industrial installations.
For more information and details on upcoming calls, please visit www.dih-hero.eu.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825003.