Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today opened the second Health Innovation Hub Ireland, based at St James Hospital in partnership with Trinity College Dublin. Minister of State Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, joined Minister Harris at the opening.

First launched by Minister Harris in Cork in 2016, Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) is establishing Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies, by allowing 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 official opening of a second HIHI in Dublin, (with another to come in Galway) marks a period of strong growth for HIHI:

· Since 2016, HIHI has managed 200 company engagements, ran 25 studies in Irish healthcare settings, 72 companies receiving follow up support through HIHI.

· 46 % increase in applications to the HHI national call aimed at companies, start-ups, SMEs (2016: 45 applicants, Vs 2018: 66 applicants.)

· One location, to three in 2018 (Cork, Dublin, Galway).

· Staff more than trebled – four to 15, across the country.

HIHI, 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 the health service access to innovative products, services, devices. HIHI works to impact Irish business and Irish healthcare in three key areas.

1. Industry: Acting as a broker, 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.

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

Minister for Health Simon Harris, TD, said:

“I am delighted to be launching the new Dublin office of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland here in St. James Hospital today. The Hub is important because it aims to foster a unique partnership between the health service and the enterprise sector that will improve healthcare and outcomes for patients.

The innovative ideas will not only come from enterprise – I am pleased to say they will also emerge from within the health service, and I want to encourage people working in healthcare to take part and make proposals. I am confident the development of the Hub has huge potential that can, ultimately, greatly benefit patient care.”

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said:

“I’m very pleased with the work the Hub is doing to provide innovative enterprises with the support they need to gain access to the Irish healthcare system. This will afford them the opportunity to develop and test their new healthcare technologies, products, and services, which will in turn help to create Irish jobs and exports.

I am delighted to announce the launch of HIHI’s new education programme. Through a series of five workshops, over 12 months – HSE and voluntary hospital staff will gain the tools to experiment, think and propose solutions to the questions and challenges we face today and into the future. Healthcare professionals, across all disciplines and grades, can visit the Hub’s website today, and enrol for the first workshop due to take place here in St James’ Hospital. I encourage them to do so.”

Announced at the opening were details of the HIHI educational programme, designed to build a sustainable culture of improvement and innovation in the Irish health system and enrolment was opened for the first of a series of five workshops here

HIHI Principal Investigator, Dublin, Prof Seamas Donnelly, said:

“We are proud that HIHI is establishing Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies, allowing easy interaction with hospitals and primary care centres. But we also want to create a sustainable culture of innovation within the Irish healthcare system so we need to reach the frontline.

The HIHI education programmes, announced today are designed specifically for clinical staff – to empower problem solvers and convert thinking into action. People who participate in these programmes then become catalysts for innovation within the health system. The overall aim is to embed ambassadors of innovation within the healthcare sector and build a national network of alumni who will foster an internal ecosystem of entrepreneurship within the HSE.”

Operationally HIHI is a partnership of clinical and academic centres from across the country. HIHI works directly with three hospital groups (South/South West, Dublin Midlands and Saolta in the West/North West), but the HIHI network can access all acute and community hospitals, pharmacies, primary care centres and healthcare centres. Academic partners are UCC and CIT, TCD and NUI Galway respectively. HIHI operates an open door policy, across its national network, to both industry and healthcare.

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