In February 2012 we reported on the formation of a ‘Connected Health Innovation Centre’ (CHIC) for Northern Ireland. This week the centre was officially launched by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.
CHIC is supported by a £5 million R&D grant from Invest NI and an additional £1.8 million investment by member companies. It is the first of a number of ‘Competence Centres’ to be created in Northern Ireland in areas identified by MATRIX (NI’s government science advisory panel) as being suitable for commercial exploitation.
Around twenty companies have signed up to become members, ranging from early stage spin-outs to multinationals [Editor’s disclaimer: TASK Community Care is a member company]. The areas they span include medical device production, diagnostics testing, health software (analytics, security and brain training), telecare and homecare.
The centre will provide a manager to work with member companies to identify ‘market focused projects’ which align with four research themes; integrated care and assisted living, point of care diagnostics, vital signs sensing development, and health in the cloud (the research themes were selected following workshops and meetings with interested businesses). University researchers will then carry out the work such as prototyping and trialling devices.
Speaking at the launch, Professor James Mc Laughlin of the University of Ulster explained: “This new centre is the next step in building a Northern Ireland connected health eco-system. By developing stronger links between academic researchers and customer focused companies, the centre can de-risk innovation for the companies and reduce the time to market for new innovative products and services.”
Read more: University of Ulster Press Release