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Cooperation between hospitals and the university stimulates innovation

Carlos III University of Madrid

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IMAGE: A prototype for doing a skin biopsy in 5 minutes and a simulator for training doctors in minimally invasive surgery are some of the innovative projects in the process of... view more

Credit: UC3M

This news release is available in Spanish.

Collaboration between the university and hospitals works like a piece of machinery, as Manuel Desco comments; he is a professor in the department of Bioengineering at UC3M and the coordinator of ITEMAS Platform: "It is in the hospitals that needs are detected and where medical and healthcare problems are relevant," and while there may be ideas for finding a solution, "many times the ability to develop a prototype is not there; the University DOES have the technological resources to do this."

The 2nd Meeting between UC3M and the Madrid Territorial Commission of the ITEMAS Platform (la Comisión Territorial de Madrid de la Plataforma ITEMAS), held in mid-November 2014, was intended to foment scientific-technological cooperation and the joint development of projects in the health technology sector. To do this, the meeting gathered over fifty engineers from UC3M and put them in contact with more than fifty medical professional from the eight hospitals that are involved: Gregorio Marañón, Puerta de Hierro, La Paz, Clínico San Carlos, Ramón y Cajal, 12 de Octubre, Fundación Jiménez Díaz, and La Princesa. In addition, approximately twenty innovation managers from these entities were present. During the meeting the comment was made that "just knowing the daily activities of the professionals in our hospitals will enable us to respond to new technological challenges at the university."

Different themes that had been identified as being of mutual interest were approached during the meeting; these in fact represent the broad lines of collaboration planned for 2015: medical and biomechanical devices, e-Health, simulation and big data, new technologies in diagnostic imaging and biomaterials and tissue engineering. The meeting was organized by UC3M's Science Park and by the medical centers' Innovation Support Units.

Many projects have come out of this 2014 meeting, "quite a few of which are in the development and patenting processes," states Manuel Desco. Among those that are already in the process of being patented, there is "a device to perform skin biopsies automatically, saving a great deal of time (going from 30 to 5 minutes, and requiring less specialized personnel," which has been developed by Hospital Ramón y Cajal and UC3M. Or, there is also another joint project between Hospital Gregorio Marañón and UC3M that consists in "a simulation system for training doctors in minimally invasive surgery, which is one of the most promising lines currently evolving in surgery."

In the previous pilot event, held in 2013 in Hospital Gregorio Marañón, 102 experts participated and some thirty synergies were identified that developed into different collaboration projects that are now underway. This shows that this type of meeting, which facilitates contact between medical professionals and engineers, quickly bears fruit, these professionals comment.

In our country, explains Desco, "in order to really get a return on what we invest in research, specifically in the area of biomedicine, we need the combination of both organizational resources, and also technical resources, which in this case are provided by UC3M, to be able to create prototypes, or tests of concepts that demonstrate that what we are proposing really works."

At the business level, "there is a very important difference between presenting something that has a prototype and has been tested rather than just a simple idea," he comments.

The Plataforma de Innovación en Tecnologías Médicas y Sanitarias (ITEMAS) is one of the Research Support Platforms for Health Science and Technology promoted by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII - Carlos III Institute of Health) as a component of the vision for integrating innovation in the field. ITEMAS hopes to foment innovation in medical technology as a fundamental tool in making the Sistema Nacional de Salud (National Health System) more sustainable, supporting the development of the culture of innovation that is necessary to facilitate the integration of the science industry system into the field of medical technology.

The Parque Científico de la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M Science Park) is the unit for knowledge and technology transfer of said university. Its role is to promote the results of research carried out by researchers from UC3M and collaboration between those scientists and the companies or institutions in R+D+i: cooperation, mixed center-laboratories, and support of entrepreneurs in its Vivero de Empresas (Business Incubator). An entire ecosystem of relationships focused on finding innovative proposals for society.

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