Health Innovation Hub Ireland launches at NUI Galway

From left, Aisling Dolan, Manager, Galway Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI); Professor Martin O’Halloran, Galway HIHI PI & Director of Translational Medical Device Lab; Tony Canavan, CEO Saolta University Healthcare Group; Professor Andrew Smith, HIHI Galway Advisor & Associate Director, HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway; Leona Halton, HIHI Clinical Liaison & HSE Public Health Nurse; Minister Jim Daly, Minister of State (Dept of Health) with special responsibility for Mental Health & Older People; Dr Steven Griffin, HIHI Innovation from Healthcare Lead; Minister Pat Breen, Minister of State (Dept of Business, Enterprise & Innovation); Professor Martin O’Donnell, Lead Galway HIHI PI & Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway; Carmel Malone, Head of School of Medicine, NUI Galway
Sep 20 2019 Posted: 15:16 IST

Connecting Innovation and Healthcare in the West of Ireland 

Minister of Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD and Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, officially opened the third national Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) on Monday, 16 September at NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute for Translational Research based at Galway University Hospital. Both the President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and CEO of Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, welcomed the arrival of the HIHI in the West.

First launched by Minister for Health Simon Harris TD at its headquarters at University College Cork in 2016, Health Innovation Hub Ireland is assisting in the establishment of Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies. HIHI allows easy interaction with hospitals and primary care centres. Collaboration between the health service and enterprise is leading to the development of new Irish healthcare technologies, products, and services. 

The continued growth of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland and expansion into the west, marks a continued pattern of growth for the HIHI nationally. This expansion follows the October 2018 launch of the second office based at Trinity College Dublin on the St. James Hospital Campus.

Nationally, Health Innovation Hub Ireland plays a unique role within the Irish healthcare ecosystem working at both ends of the innovation pathway - at the very earliest stage from ideation through to concept development and at the later stage of proof of concept in a clinical environment.

In Galway, HIHI works closely with other Enterprise Ireland programmes including BioInnovate Ireland and BioExel at NUI Galway and leverages the medtech expertise within the University including the Translational Medical Device Lab, led by Professor Martin O’Halloran, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices and the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, led by the HIHI PrincipaI Investigator, Professor Martin O’Donnell.

HIHI Galway is at the cutting edge of excellence in healthcare, clinical and engineering research with easy access to experts and the next generation of innovators. Companies based in the West such as Ostoform and Feeltect are just a few of the companies benefiting from the HIHI’s unique ecosystem.

HIHI - a national central hub to the health and innovation ecosystem 

HIHI was established by Department of Business, Enterprise, Innovation, and the Department of Health, supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Health Service Executive (HSE). As a unique joint government initiative, HIHI offers companies the opportunity for pilot and clinical validation studies and provides the health service with access to innovative products, services, devices. HIHI works to impact Irish business and Irish healthcare in three key areas. 

1. Industry: HIHI matches companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in an Irish clinical setting.  

2. Healthcare: 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.  

3Education: Delivering a series of five HIHI workshops and a diploma in healthcare innovation, HIHI is embedding an innovation culture in Irish healthcare. 

To date, HIHI has engaged with more than 256 companies and 160 healthcare employees to discuss their innovative ideas. HIHI issues an annual call but also welcomes direct engagement through any of its offices in Cork, Dublin and now Galway.

Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen, TD, commented: “As Minister for State in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I very much welcome the launch of the third national Health Innovation Hub Ireland here in NUI Galway. HIHI is a wonderful means of facilitating collaboration between all the various players involved in the health, enterprise and research sectors for the ultimate benefit of Ireland’s citizens. Galway, in particular, is a city that has both a thriving academic centre and a rapidly expanding MedTech sector.  I wish HIHI well in its endeavours and look forward to seeing the benefits of its work in the future.”

Professor Martin O’Donnell, Professor of Translational Medicine at NUI Galway and HIHI Principal Investigator, Galway, said: “Based at NUI Galway we have multi-disciplinary award-winning teams in healthcare, clinical and engineering research at the Lambe Institute for Translational Research. Health Innovation Hub Ireland combines expertise from NUI Galway and the HSE to deliver projects in healthcare and industry. With a strategic location, embedded in the heart of the hospital, research and teaching, the Hub is a welcome resource to clinicians, researchers and companies.”

Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD,commented: “I am delighted to see the expansion of Health Innovation Hub Ireland here in Galway, building on the Hubs in Dublin and Cork. This ground-breaking initiative between the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation and the Department of Health is supporting companies access healthcare experts and bringing new technologies to market as well as improving patient outcomes. Enterprise Ireland is supporting a vision of innovation in healthcare and supporting companies and innovators in healthcare to reach their potential.”

CEO of Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, commented: “The HIHI facilitates a unique partnership between the health service and the enterprise sector to enable healthcare research and innovation will over time improve outcomes for patients. Critically, it gives staff working on the front line of the health service an opportunity to bring their ideas and proposals to the Hub that will ultimately improve outcomes for our patients. We are delighted that the Saolta Group and in particular University Hospital Galway is part of this initiative and I would encourage staff to share their knowledge and make proposals.”

Speaking about the growth of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland: HIHI Principal Investigator, Professor John Higgins, said: “The opening of the Health Innovation Hub in Galway is another key step in making HIHI a truly national organisation following the extension from Cork to Dublin and now Galway. It is a prelude to the HIHI extending to the rest of Ireland. Throughout the healthcare system, if you have an idea or burning desire to bring about change, a solution or a wish to bring innovation in, the HIHI opens that door. The national presence of the HIHI is a testimony to industry and healthcare working together.”


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