The purpose of MedTech West is to further develop an existing medical environment into a powerful internationally competitive platform that attracts national and international research as well as regional, national and international researchers, doctors and engineers, to conduct joint research and develop new methodologies from which novel innovations can be identified and developed.
World leading interdisciplinary medical research is conducted in close collaboration with the biomedical engineering industry in order to prepare a natural entry point for collaboration with clinicians and technicians. Academic collaboration naturally means that parts of the work will be undertaken by students, in the form of projects and thesis work, which has benefits for undergraduate and postgraduate level at the cooperative universities. MedTech West thus takes responsibility for the master’s program in biomedical engineering offered at Chalmers.
MedTech West works on innovative ideas from health care and academia while evaluating the clinical relevance of technology-driven ideas and thus act as a bridge between clinical and medical skills. It also serves as a link to the incumbent organization’s innovation systems.
MedTech West must initially build on existing partnerships within the fields of medical diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and e-health. MedTech West is organized with an openness and transparency of the procedures for admission of new projects and partners.
Activities will focus on applied medical care based research, in collaboration with the medical device industry. For businesses MedTech West acts as an attractive playing field for research collaborations in the network of industry partners, health care and academia. It can also be used for contract research and clinical testing. The highly specialized care in Sweden is characterized by a highly developed and trustful cooperation between different clinical specialties, and this ability to easily carry out multi-disciplinary work has contributed to several small and large international companies (eg Unilever R & D, Kappametrics, Nexstim) that have sought biomedical engineering development in cooperation with the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology SU. MedTech West intends to provide uniform, clear ground rules for such interaction, as well as skills and consulting relating to contracts, security and medical safety. An important role is thus to act as a link for making the clinical environment available for established businesses who want to test new ideas or are in need of clinical validation of new products or concepts. MedTech West is also important for formulating projects and ideas and will work to find the right external funding agencies in various project stages.
Target activities of MedTech West include:
- Creating a dynamic, internationally attractive, and competitive medical research platform for needs-driven and multi-disciplinary research that includes intensive interaction with the relevant industry.
- Developing a more open and creative environment based on a respectful team environment with a social and knowledge-oriented leadership.
- Launching a platform that will serve to
- Attract additional funding from VINNOVA, SSF, VR and / or the EU’s 7th Framework Program, aiming for >20 million a year in a decade.
- Include additional clinics and research projects in the platform.
- Work around the two newly established biomedical engineering masters and graduate courses at Chalmers and University of Borås, together with various local and/or international medical-technology companies.
In this way, the presence of the platform and activities with which MedTech West is involved will continue to expand for years to come.
MedTech West aims to take advantage of Sweden’s medical device prowess while working to increase interaction in order to push newer technologies to the clinical and medical settings with emphasis on lowering overall cost for health care. Several issues have been identified by international reviews of Swedish medical technology and the health-care industry that MedTech West aims to resolve.
MedTech West will stand on three pillars of innovation: improving interaction between the relevant partners, creating an environment conducive to translating new technologies into clinically relevant tools, and enabling more cost-effective solutions to modern health care issues.
- Sweden has a long and strong tradition in the medical device industry, with a relatively large proportion of global profits (4%) generated within the medical device field. The Swedish share is dominated by a small number of large companies, whose products are often based on innovations that were developed in years past. Unfortunately, the prospect for promising small and medium-sized companies based on innovative ideas is a difficult one, at best. An important reason for this is lack of networking / clustering between different companies in the field comes from a lack of interaction between the three key players required for development of new innovations: namely firms/industry, health care/hospitals, and academic research/universities. A recent international study initiated by VR, SSF and VINNOVA shows that Swedish medical technology is lacking foresight and that there is a severe shortage of new ideas and proposals for bold projects. The said situation at present has been confirmed by several independent investigations and constitutes the fundamental background and basis of MedTech West’s existence.
- Specialized medical care is becoming increasingly high tech. Newly acquired effective treatments only partially reach commercial availability because they are often dependent on advanced diagnostics that are constantly and rapidly evolving. The development, routine daily operation, and coordination of various advanced diagnostic modalities requires high technical skills at the end-user level — highly specialized hospitals today need not only “service techniques” but require technical excellence for regionally shared resources to be exploited adequately. The newly projected “image-building and intervention” center in the SU is one of many such regionally-shared resources that have these requirements. Collaboration between health care, universities, and the medical device industry is optimal for making new technology not only available but immediately exploited in a clinical setting. Proximity between these parties contributes to R & D efforts directed towards resolving key current issues in health care, while subjecting yesterday’s innovator-driven projects to review according to their the medical relevance and feasibility. The need for such proximity was recently voiced in the investigation “Action MedTech” and provides the second pillar for the MedTech West’s existence.
- The accelerating medical progress leads to an upward trend in the cost charged for highly specialized care. Demographic changes, such as aging, are increasing the health care consuming population. The need for cost control will require strict prioritization of the highly specialized medical facilities, and thus require an investment in distributed primary and home care. Such development relies on high hopes for technology development that would enable distributed diagnostics and monitoring for decision support available to a networked level of care. There are several promising examples of new advancements in distributed outpatient diagnostics within the VGR, including a cooperation between SU, Chalmers, and University of Borås, that are leading to clinical monitoring of physiological signals in the home environment, but they are still in the early development stage. This is also highlighted in the Chalmers Initiative Seminar: Technology and Construction for an Aging Population. Distributed diagnosis and monitoring is just one arena in which MedTech West aims to promote its third pillar of innovation: more cost-effective solutions to modern health care.
MedTech West is built on pre-existing collaborations. Chalmers and SU have worked together on development projects and collaborative research in medical technology for decades. The collaboration has primarily been between the Department of Signals and Systems at Chalmers (formerly Applied electronics) and services for neonatal and childbirth, and neurophysiology at SU. During the last decade, the technical side extended to the School of Engineering at the University of Borås with an intensification in cooperation with the Clinical Neurophysiology SU. The University of Borås has established operations in medical signal processing with a recent addition of focus on smart textiles, in particular with special emphasis on their utility in the medical field. A party of cooperation has also been founded in Medicine and Technology (SMT), formed by Chalmers in 1985 to bridge the clinical medical research into social and commercial utilization of results.
In this environment of well-established and informal cooperation many projects of multi-disciplinary nature have been born, some with other departments at Chalmers.
A medical device innovation and development platform
Chalmers University of Technology, University of Borås, Gothenburg University, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Västra Götaland, (often referred to as Chalmers, HB, GU, SU, and VGR, respectively) are interacting within the medical device development platform MedTech West. The parties are coordinated in their collaborations including academic, health care-related, and industrial activities including research, development, and education in the medical field.
MedTech West is working on innovative ideas from healthcare and academia as well as evaluating the clinical relevance of technology-driven ideas and thereby serves as a link between clinical and medical skills. MedTech West also serves as a link to the incumbent member’s well-established innovation systems. For companies, MedTech West represents an attractive playing field for research collaborations, assignments, and clinical tests while providing access to expertise on contract, confidentiality, patient privacy, medical safety, and etc.
MedTech West is a dynamic, internationally competitive research and teaching environment and a network for needs-driven and multi-disciplinary research in intensive collaboration with participating medical device industrial partners. The business focuses on applied medical care close to the research environment and working towards new knowledge and technologies, that can lead to new products, processes, and services in health care.
The involvement of business, healthcare and academia will lead to research directed towards needs-driven approaches to problem solving that is both relevant and scientifically challenging.
Medtech West appears in a strong network of existing innovation actors and integrates them within a strong innovation environment. This will ensure an environment conducive to ideas that fall outside the core business for the participating actors can be utilized and further developed, e.g. through the creation and development of new research-based and high technology companies.
MedTech West is an open and creative environment based on a respectful team environment with a social and knowledge-oriented leadership core.