Innovation School to meet Health Challenges

At the School of Health Innovation, participants gain knowledge, tools and networks that will enhance their ability to solve health challenges and develop the healthcare system.

Foto: Monica Bring Estesen, UiO

“Attending the School Health Innovation was great experience and opportunity. I have really enjoyed working together with people from different research fields, and different academic background (engineers, psychologists, doctors, and researchers) on common projects. We learned a lot from each other, working on the real study-cases from different angles, given our different backgrounds and personalities”, says Ana Osorio Oliveira, postdoctoral researcher at Karolinska Institutet, that participated in course 1 in 2020.

She continues:

“I got a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of the innovation process in the first course and it made me more focused in my own innovation journey”.

Ana continued onto course 2 this fall and worked with her mentor from the School Health Innovation, Bjarte Reve, that had invaluable feedback on her project. In January 2021, she is starting up a pilot for her own innovation and social enterprise project.

Problem solving in a new perspective

During the first three years, 200 researchers have completed one or more of the three courses offered. There are also several start-ups and projects initiated by participants. The projects range from new treatment for migraines, obesity, optimization of infertility treatment, to methods for a more accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer and breast cancer.

“The Nordic life science research environment is strong, and the number of publications places the Nordic countries among the top regions in Europe. However, the number of companies and commercial products arising from academic institutions places Nordic countries far behind.” Says Trine Winterø Vice-Dean Innovation and External Relations at University of Copenhagen, and continues:

«This indicates a huge untapped potential for creating translational research projects and eventually spinout companies and commercial products. We expect to boost these projects through the School of Health Innovation.»

Practical tools for innovation

Course 1 “Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship” is a session-based course that runs from February to April. It is divided into three modules, each of which is organised by one of the universities. Each module lasts for two to three days.

"Throughout the Nordic health innovation school, we wanted to empower interdisciplinary studies to encourage innovation, creative thinking, problem-solving, and accelerate medical discoveries to reach to society." says Carl Johan Sundberg, Head of Dep of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics (LIME), KI. 

We strive to create a meeting place for brilliant scientists, researchers and medical experts to build teams of interdisciplinary thinkers who analytically and creatively embraces new ideas to co-create together the future of healthcare.

During the course, participants will meet researchers who have become entrepreneurs before them. In addition to learning from the experiences of others, participants will also be introduced to methods of idea development and group work.

Trond Nordseth attended the School of Health Innovation Course 1 in 2019. He works as an anesthesiologist, and joined out of curiosity and with a wish to learn. Now, he and the team has secured funding for the development of their innovation and is considering establishing a start-up company together with NTNU TTO (the technology transfer office).

This would never have happened if I did not attend the School of Health Innovation, says Nordseth.

"We were challenged to develop an innovative idea in the group work. I had seen the difficulties medical students faced prioritizing patients at a simulated accident scene with several injured, at an emergency course I manage at NTNU. I had also observed the same issues with professionals at real accident scenes, when working at the rescue helicopter service. So, we started discussing different solutions to the challenge and came up with an idea that got a good feedback.” 

They started working on how to make monitoring equipment used at hospital wards usable in first aid situations, for persons without a medical background. Two years after attending the course they will shortly be testing the prototype for the innovation.

Learning by collaboration 

The objective for course 1 is to learn how innovation processes work in biotech and medtech companies. Participants will learn this by solving real issues the companies have. Each group will present a solution to the companies.

“I want to make my research outcomes available for the public and patients in order to contribute towards a more patient focused health care system. As a specialist in spirituality mind-body medicine, I have done research on how meditation can treat chronic pain. Many mind-body smartphone apps currently available for patients are not clinically validated or effective, so I decided to develop a meditative-based smartphone treatment app for patients in pain. I needed more knowledge about business and tools to develop the idea into a service that could clinically help people”, says Charles Ethan Paccione.

He is a PhD fellow at the Faculty of Medicine in Oslo and work at the Department of Pain Management and Research at Oslo University Hospital.

"I received necessary information and knowledge from the courses in order to take my mind-body smartphone app and transform it into a business plan and prospective startup company."

"Still, what gravitates me to the programme is the people. I like to work in an interdisciplinary setting with people interested in how we can optimise treatment so it meets the needs of the user. The School of Health Innovation provides this”, Paccione concludes.

Working together for innovation

To best meet the health challenges of the future, such as an ageing population and resistant bacteria, it is important to provide health researchers with the tools they need.  The four universities behind School of health innovation have a common goal:

"We want our researchers to learn more about being an innovator. School of health innovation help new ideas to grow and develop faster among our health researchers in academia and hospitals for the benefit of patients and for value creation and more jobs", says Hilde Nebb, Vice-Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Medicine at UiO and the initiator of the School of Health Innovation.

She is supported by her colleague Brita Pukstad, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at NTNU:

“There is a need for new thinking, for health-driven innovation. The School of Health Innovation can help to create this kind of thinking. And that is what we need to give people better healthcare in the future”, says Pukstad.

Further information about School of health innovation and a course description for Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Published Jan. 14, 2021 2:20 PM - Last modified Feb. 5, 2021 8:36 AM