Innovation Akademiska – test bed for novel healthcare products and services

Flygbild Akademiska sjukhuset

Innovation Akademiska supports development of innovative products and services by enabling collaboration between life science companies and healthcare. The aim is to shorten development times of healthcare devices.

Innovation Akademiska was established in 2008 as part of Uppsala University Hospital, the oldest and one of the largest university hospitals in Sweden in which over 700 000 people are cared for yearly. During its 300-year history the hospital has often been a forerunner in Sweden by looking for new, innovative solutions. The hospital aims to make the best use of new technology, utilize new scientific findings and create new ways of working to solve healthcare problems.

The hospital test bed, Innovation Akademiska, was established to promote these innovative activities and also to open the hospital for collaboration with companies, as an arena for development of medical technology products and services. In addition to company collaboration, Innovation Akademiska develops working methods to support innovation activities involving employees, hospital departments and recently, via the project Idékraft (“the power of ideas”), also patients and relatives. Access to healthcare environment and users early in the development process is effective for shortening the development time and achieve commercial success.

We have in several projects seen the values that occurs for both healthcare professionals and for patients when new innovative solutions are implemented. The solutions are best developed by companies and healthcare in collaboration. In the many projects that we have managed, it has been highly appreciated from both parts to be able to early evaluate a product/service and to get comments, requirements and wishes from the intended end users. Such collaborations make it much more likely that companies develop products/services that the healthcare actually need”, Anna Attefall, Innovation Akademiska Project Manager, says.

 

Innovation Akademiska’s services

Innovation Akademiska´s expertise includes concept evaluation, product development, usability and prototype testing, project management, medical technology and ethical regulations. The offered services to companies are for example

  • early evaluation of ideas and concepts by healthcare professionals
  • usability testing
  • support for implementation (health technology assessment)
  • support in applications for project funding

Employees at the hospital also get help with their innovations, with vital issues such as regulating IP rights and idea and business development, the latter through Innovation Akademiska’s close collaboration with the innovation support system in Uppsala.

 

The value for companies

Novortex is such a company that has benefited by the support from Innovation Akademiska. It started with an idea from employees; an orthopaedic splint that can be used as an alternative to a plaster cast. The idea was developed into a product and a company was founded by the innovators. The product SplintEEZ is now implemented at the hospital.

Innovation Akademiska has played a completely crucial role for us. Their help has meant the difference between a finished commercial product and something which might otherwise have got stuck at the idea stage”, Anders Westermark, orthopaedic surgeon and one of the founders of Novortex, says. Innovation Akademiska participated in the development work by examining and regulating the rights to the idea, assisting in prototype development and guiding on regulatory issues. Innovation Akademiska also planned and conducted usability tests at Uppsala University Hospital.

Another user of Innovation Akademiska´s test bed services has been Kontigo Care AB. The company has developed a novel product for alcohol addiction monitoring and treatment through a mobile breathalyzer and web application. “Innovation Akademiska´s work with clinical evaluation and usability testing meant that we could put the product on the market 2-3 years earlier than we otherwise could have done”, Markku Hämäläinen, Kontigo Care’s Research Manager, says.

With the help of Innovation Akademiska, companies get a unique contact with the healthcare. That contact is now extended to other Nordic testbeds via the NoTeB network. “The NoTeB network is valuable both for the healthcare to see what is developed in the other Nordic countries, and for the companies to get in contact with other Nordic testbeds and university hospitals. The companies are often small with limited resources, so the network provides them with contacts that would otherwise have taken the companies much longer time to get on their own”, Attefall says.

 

The quotations of Anders Westermark and Markku Hämäläinen are based on the longer interviews which are partly published in Innovation Akademiska´s report Can you afford not to innovate? The value of innovation in healthcare. View the report here (as pdf): The value of innovations.