Customer innovation centre of the future imagined by University of Galway students

University of Galway IdeasLab and Medtronic Grand Challenge Final: President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh; Dr Natalie Walsh, Director of Entrepreneurial Development, University of Galway IdeasLab; Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary T.D.; the winning team EdgeMed Jack Mitchell, Daire Shankey, Neil Stuart, Hayden Cripps; and Ronan Rogers, Senior R&D Director, Medtronic. Credit - Mike Shaughnessy.
Apr 15 2024 Posted: 12:07 IST

University and Medtronic announce winners of seven week ‘Grand Challenge’



University of Galway and Medtronic plc, a global leader in healthcare technology, have announced Team EdgeMed as the winner of the Medtronic ‘Grand Challenge’, whose project featured improved storytelling, bioprinting, and robot assisted surgery simulation lab as part of a competition to ‘Design a Customer Innovation Centre of the Future’.


The competition, run by University of Galway’s IdeasLab and Medtronic, brought together multidisciplinary students from more than seven countries, to solve the challenge set by Medtronic: Envision what its Customer Innovation Centre (CIC) could look like in 10 years’ time. 


The CIC is a space in Medtronic’s Parkmore Galway facility where clinicians come to collaborate and innovate with engineers and scientists to improve healthcare technologies.


The competition is part of Medtronic’s €5 million Signature Innovation Partnership with University of Galway, announced in 2023.


The six teams presented their entries at a special event attended by Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary T.D., in the Medtronic CIC. Ideas presented included the use of AI-powered learning platforms, VR, rapid prototyping workshop, collection of real-time data about visitor engagement using developing technologies.


The winning team, EdgeMed, whose solution was based on improved storytelling, bioprinting, and a robot assisted surgery simulation lab, were chosen as their solution aligned with the current and future values of Medtronic, for their in-depth analysis of the problem statement and their storytelling in explaining and bringing their solution to life for the judges.


Joint runners up were Phi Verse who recommended a robot guide for visiting physicians and VR assisted demonstrations, and TechCure whose solution included employing AI/Machine Learning to collect real-time data about visitor engagement to better understand and improve the visitor's experience.


The competition engaged 30 students - including Irish, EU and international students- across 5 teams who worked together over seven weeks to work through a design sprint incorporating team development, empathy, problem definition, ideation, prototyping, testing and storytelling to develop a solution direction for Medtronic.


Running alongside their weekly workshops were five mentoring sessions guided by mentors from Medtronic, helping students to develop understanding of the problem and the solution fit for the industry.


Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD, speaking at the event said: “The Medtronic Customer Innovation Centre plays an important role in driving healthcare technology advancements, and this Grand Challenge created by University of Galway and Medtronic plc has showcased remarkable talent and creativity from students in how they envisage its future impact. The forward-thinking approach from all teams involved symbolises the spirit of innovation that is crucial for advancing healthcare and improving patient outcomes. This competition serves as a testament to Medtronic and the University of Galway’s commitment to fostering innovation and nurturing the next generation of leaders in this space.”


Ronan Rogers, Senior Director of R&D at Medtronic, said: “Our Customer Innovation Centre fosters opportunities for collaboration with customers from across the globe in order to better understand their needs, and the needs of their patients, and together develop therapies that meet today's, and tomorrow’s, healthcare challenges. This past year we celebrated 10 years of the CIC and our work with thousands of physicians, it has been fascinating to look forward and see what the students envision the centre to look like in the next 10 years. Considering all the digital and technological advancements that will occur between now and then, we were impressed by the student’s ambitious and innovative designs.”


Dr Natalie Walsh, Director of Entrepreneurial Development at University of Galway (IdeasLab) said: “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Medtronic. Through the Grand Challenge we have bridged the gap between education and industry to work together to create a future vision for the Customer Innovation Centre in Medtronic.  The centre is the epicentre of innovation in Medtronic and to have our students work onsite in this environment, be mentored by clinicians, engineers and commercial experts has fostered a deep understanding of real-world problem-solving and solution optimisation. This collaboration underscores the University of Galway's commitment to shaping the future of innovation through hands-on learning, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving, preparing students not just for their careers but for a lifetime of impactful contributions to our society.”



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