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The rapidly evolving digitalisation of health and wellbeing requires new knowledge and collaboration models to accelerate growth globally. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to increase their business development expertise and capabilities in the field of digital health. Health care providers need to speed up their adoption of digital innovations and assess the impact of digital solutions on healthcare processes. New collaborative action models at the European level will speed up this development and knowledge building.
OuluHealth is one of the leading digital health innovation ecosystems in Europe. Members of the OuluHealth ecosystem represent the whole spectrum of health and social care, including specialised medical care, primary health and social care, health and wellbeing industry and commerce, health technology research and education, and citizens.
The main stakeholders of OuluHealth are Oulu University Hospital (OYS), University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and BusinessOulu and the Department of Healthcare and Social Welfare of the City of Oulu. The OuluHealth ecosystem also encompasses more than 600 health and life science companies, at least 240 of which are high-tech companies (http://ouluhealth.fi/companies/ ). The ecosystem approach enables the combination of a broad range of expertise, from wireless information technologies and the life sciences to smart information and communication technology (ICT) solutions for delivering advanced, personalised, connected health service solutions. OuluHealth has close and tangible co-operation with SuperIOT, 5G test network Finland and Printocent Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH). Good example of this co-operation is for instance OYS to be the first hospital to test 5G-technology. The principal idea of OuluHealth is to facilitate open collaboration and to accelerate innovation by bringing together various partners to contribute to the needs of the healthcare sector and business growth in the modern digital era. This collaboration model promotes economic growth, capacity building and research and development and innovation (R&D&I) investments in select focus areas.
The recently established DigiHealth Knowledge Hub will connect companies to the latest knowledge, expertise and technology. The Hub is speeding up the adoption of digital innovation and building a joint national network for digital health research and innovation. The DigiHealth Knowledge Hub is integrated nationally and internationally with the health sector’s growth strategy implementation actions, RDI programmes and EU-level thematic platforms.
The OuluHealth ecosystem supports companies in developing their ideas into market-ready products and services by providing support in activities such as identifying opportunities for digitalisation, bringing together relevant stakeholders, providing testing and piloting platforms and environments, offering services for growth and internationalisation, and hands-on training.
- Opportunities for collaborative research and innovation: OuluHealth supports companies, researchers and healthcare professionals to collaborate on research and innovation. The ecosystem model facilitates innovation platforms for multi-stakeholder development projects and startups within digital health. It creates synergies with international research and innovation networks and builds up new partnerships to highlight trends and gaps in policies in the arena of person-centred digital health.
- Innovative testing and piloting environments: OuluHealth provides a world-class development and testing environment, OuluHealth Labs, for testing innovations throughout the entire service chain: hospitals and health and social centres as well as in patients’ homes. In this way, companies have a unique opportunity to develop their solutions under authentic conditions and receive valuable feedback from healthcare professionals and end-users.
- Digital integration platform: OuluHealth Labs provides an open sandbox for developers to simulate the integration of digital technologies in hospital environments and simulate the change opportunities embedded in the digital process for health providers.
- Business development: OuluHealth offers health and life science companies tailor-made business development support, which includes financing and business modelling, internationalisation, media contacts and invest-In services. The ecosystem helps to find investors and the right partners, increase visibility and reach international markets.
- Knowledge building and support (DigiHealth Knowledge Hub): OuluHealth offers access to expert services and innovation networks to explore and exploit emerging technologies (AI, deep learning, big data analytics, etc.) in the next-generation digital solutions develops new assessment methods for digital healthcare solutions. OuluHealth shares best practices in the implementation of digital technologies and developing data-intensive service solutions and personalised health and care. OuluHealth is building innovation networking opportunities regionally, nationally and in EU thematic platforms
- Matchmaking: OuluHealth organises events such as the ecosystem and demo days to support the growth and needs of the market. It understands the needs and challenges of companies, provides information about novel digital solutions for health and social care professionals, and provides new knowledge and research to support digital transformation.
- Training events: OuluHealth and the Faculty of Medicine from the University of Oulu together with the Finnish Medical Association and industry organise education and training events for students, where they can learn to efficiently use new digital systems in their future work as well as test and evaluate health IT solutions. Moreover, by participating, eHealth companies get a chance to obtain first-hand feedback from 5th-level medical students.
Innovation networks of OuluHealth
The OuluHealth ecosystem has active partnerships with researchers, business networks, and regional, national and international networks and alliances.
On the EU level, OuluHealth is a member of the European Connected Health Alliance, EU COST-Action network: European Network for the Joint Evaluation of Connected Health Technologies (ENJECT) and Digital Health Society Task Forces, which are building EU-level strategies and proposing actions (Action plan 2018) in digital health. The City of Oulu has been granted EIP-AHA reference site status. Oulu’s evidence for status as a reference site is largely based on the OuluHealth ecosystem and its OuluHealth Labs operation. OuluHealth is an active member of the Nordic reference site collaboration with EIP-AHA. Furthermore, OuluHealth has applied to host the EU mHealth Hub and the bid has passed the first evaluation stage.
By building a network of Nordic collaborators, OuluHealth aims to strengthen cooperation at both the strategic and operational levels. A good example of this is the network of Nordic Test Beds (NoTeB). Long collaboration with Nordic partners generated the Nordic Proof testing collaboration network, which OuluHealth will be a member of beginning in 2019. These active interactions with European innovation networks ensure the formation of strong strategic partnerships, as well as rapid and broad implementation of novel solutions and action models in innovation ecosystems.
On the regional level, OuluHealth has strong collaborations with Allied ICT Finland, which brings together several domain-specific DIHs, such as Super IOT, PrintoCent, Arctic Drone Labs and 5G test network Finland as well as services like Analytics+ in Finland. OuluHealth is one of the five innovation ecosystems of the Oulu Innovation Alliance (OIA), which is a regional strategic collaboration model with committed stakeholders. The collaboration model has proven to be an excellent ecosystem model for public-private-people partnership cooperation at the regional, national and international level. OIA’s four other ecosystems are Agile Commercialisation, ICT & Digitalisation, Industry 2026, and Northern City with Attractive Opportunities.
More info: www.ouluhealth.fi
Link to national or regional initiatives for digitising industry
The goals and activities of OuluHealth are aligned with the Finnish national (Digital Finland Framework) and regional digitalisation strategies (smart specialisation strategy) for Finland’s regional government, health and social service reform (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health). Moreover, OuluHealth is an active player in the implementation of Health Sector Growth Strategy and influencing international digital healthcare strategies.
Digitalisation strategies in Finland
One of the strategies, Digital Finland Framework (Ministry of Employment and Economy), supports effective coordination of sustainable digital transformation in Finland. Moreover, the framework states: “Growing healthcare costs together with aging population demand for a paradigm shift to prevention of diseases and a new kind of participatory healthcare. The global markets for novel technologies for better life, like artificial intelligence (AI) supported diagnostics, preventive health care solutions or automation and situation awareness in built environments, etc. are rapidly increasing.” Finland’s health and social services reform (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health) aims that the services are adjusted accordingly one’s needs and one's own information flows smoothly between different service providers. OuluHealth is one of the main partners in the national spearhead programs, like Virtual Hospital 2.0 Program (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and five Hospital Districts), Self-Care and Digital Value Services (the municipalities’ join project), and national International Humans’ Account Network (IHAN) programmes, which are implementing digitalisation strategies and developing nationwide digital service paths. The key assets of OuluHealth, such as OuluHealth Labs and DigiHealth Hub, are supporting the implementation of strategy and its action to ensure the quick and easy adoption of novel technologies, such as AI, in digital health industry. The way to accelerate the novel technologies of adoption is enhanced by providing digital integration and innovation platforms, and nationwide testing environment for human centered data management pilots and demonstrations (IHAN). In addition, DigiHealth HUB, together with the Finnish Coordinating Center for Health Technology Assessment (FinCCHTA), develops new assessment methods for digital healthcare solutions to better take into account the specific needs of novel technologies. FinCCHTA is coordinated by Oulu University Hospital. The University of Oulu (Faculty of Medicine) is coordinating national medical and dentistry digital learning project MeDigi (Ministry of Education and Culture). It is strengthening the position of the University of Oulu as a leader in the eHealth and active developer of digital learning. Moreover, the University of Oulu has also launched, first in Finland, eHealth training for medical students in 2016. These activities implement the “Ensuring future-oriented digital skills” action of Digital Finland Framework.
Growth and renewal in the health sector are being boosted by the national Health Sector Growth Strategy for research and innovation. The aim of the strategy is to strengthen operating environment and ensure its competitiveness, boost investments and to achieve economic growth in the sector. The growth strategy has been implemented via national spearhead programs like INKA (Innovative Cities) Future Health programme. The OuluHealth ecosystem was chosen to lead the program, since the city had a multi-stakeholder collaboration model in place. The program has resulted in establishing innovation and digital integration platforms and R&D projects between major cities in Finland. OuluHealth’s DigiHealth Hub is one of the coordinators of the Well-being and Health sector artificial Intelligence and Robotics Programme (Hyteairo, The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health), which supplements the Health Sector Growth strategy regarding robotics and artificial AI. The Hyteairo supports and speeds up the utilisation of artificial intelligence and robotics in the well-being sector’s services and operating processes. OuluHealth is part of this program to scout and evaluate enabling technologies as well as creating methods for evaluation the impact of robotics and AI in eHealth solutions and data-enabled healthcare solutions.
Smart specialisation strategy of the Oulu region takes into account the structure of the region’s industry, areas of special expertise, research infrastructure, international position, national innovation policy and the region’s strengths and possibilities in the implementation of Industrial Modernisation in Europe (S3P-Industry). Due to the location of industry and high-level research institutes in the region, the smart specialisation strategy has several focus areas and is strongly linked to the OIA’s ecosystems. OuluHealth, one of OIA’s ecosystem, plays an important role in the implementation of healthcare and wellness technology focus area. The spearheads are digital health, unique testing environments as well as strong research and innovation. The chosen spearheads are integrally included in the OuluHealth’s own operating strategy and activities. Digital health knowledge and peer networks are built through international partnerships, such as Personalised Medicine and Medical Technology partnerships of Smart Specialisation Platforms. Moreover, the University of Oulu has systematically invested in and strengthened local know-how in eHealth and mHealth research and innovation. As a result, three professorships have been established to support the development of digitalisation in health research and innovation.
Influencing international digital healthcare strategies
Since 2013 OuluHealth has participated in diverse initiatives to influence the digital transition of health. Through the Region of Knowledge funding Ouluhealth was part of the network of four regions in EU. Project developed European regional eHealth joint action plans (JAP) within these regions, including competence building in the Pre-Commercial Procurement in eHealth and education pilots for the medical schools. OuluHealth is also a founder and member of the global MyData.org network which is promoting digital rights and human centered data management in the digital era. It develops new approaches to ensure that the EU citizens have the control of their personal data as well as its safety and security. OuluHealth was leading the study (2017-2018) on Person centric data management models and opportunities in the healthcare sector in Nordic countries. Moreover, OuluHealth has initiated the Comparative analysis across the EU regions on the progress in digitalizing healthcare services. This targeted analysis activity was conducted within the framework of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme, partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). OuluHealth is part of the Digital Health Society (DHS) movement and contributes to its task forces, like citizen-controlled data governance and data donors to raise awareness about the benefits of data sharing for research purpose and healthcare services improvement. OuluHealth has been contributing in the evaluation criteria for Connected health solutions within the COST Action European Network for the Joint Evaluation of Connected Health Technologies (ENJECT).
The city of Oulu is one of the reference sites within the European Commission’s European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing (EIP on AHA) and has a chair on the executive board of the reference site collaboration network (RSCN). The Network brings together all the Reference Sites of the EIP on AHA in Europe, in a permanent forum aiming at promoting cooperation among regions. It plays a very important role in sharing experiences, developing common policies and strategies for health promotion and improvement of innovative approach to care. City of Oulu was active in European digitalization strategy discussions by coordinating the EU partnership network for the European Urban agenda on the digital transition. Oulu co-chaired the future health working group and communicated future actions of digital health and Mydata approach to EU Commission.
Implementing digitalisation strategies through the projects
The national and international funding instruments as well as regional development funds have been used to develop infrastructures and innovation and co-creation models supporting the digital transformation.
- Building open innovation platforms and co-creation models for digital health solutions
The vision of the national Innovative cities programme, INKA Future health (2013-2017, BusinessFinland), was that Finland becomes a world leader in agile development and commercialisation of health care innovations by 2020. The project has resulted in the establishment of innovation platforms and cooperative R&D projects between major cities in Finland. OuluHealth Labs emerged from the regional project (ERDF), Oulu Sote Labs (2014-2016), enabling product development in an authentic user environment in collaboration with programme partners, companies, research institutes and healthcare service users. The aim of the Wireless lab environment for business (WILLE, 2015-2017, BusinessFinland) project was to create a service co-creation platform to be used in designing innovative services for the hospital environment. As a result, OuluHealth Labs now provides Finland’s first integration platform as an open sandbox for developers to simulate opportunities for digital process changes. The University Hospitals as Innovation Platforms (YSI, 2016-2017) ERDF funded project developed the national approach to identify, evaluate and co-create new businesses in university hospitals. Moreover, the innovation culture of health care was improved by the new approach to co-creating innovations together with the selected stakeholder groups. This innovation process is currently used at Oulu University Hospital.
- Accelerating eHealth companies and co-creating solutions
Future Internet Challenge eHealth (FICHe, 2014-2016) was one accelerator project of the EU Commission’s FIWARE accelerator programme (EU FP7). The aim of the FICHe project was to challenge European startups to develop innovative applications in the eHealth market building upon the FIWARE technology. The combination of funding, coaching and tangible outputs has contributed to the acceleration of the development of solutions of SMEs. Through participation in the FICHe programme, SMEs and startups created 150 new jobs, developed new customers and partnerships, and raised extra public and private funding. The Co-Created Health and Wellbeing ERDF funded project (CoHeWe, 2018-2020) aims to unite different existing development methods and to create concrete procedures for the development of digital health businesses as part of the co-creation of health and wellbeing services. The project focuses especially on the service development of proactive and active wellbeing solutions for citizens. Moreover, the H2020 EU-funded inDemand project (2017-2020) pilots a new co-creation model in which healthcare organisations and companies co-create digital health solutions with the economic support of public funds.
- Health data exploitation and big data analytics for digital health services and policies
EU program READi for Health (2013-2016, FP7) addressed the eHealth policy challenges and prepared a regional eHealth agenda with an action plans for different regions; including innovation hub and eHealth services, SME support, big data and cloud, capacity building and Pre-Commercial Procurement in eHealth. The aim of the Digital Health Revolution (DHR, 2013-2017, BusinessFinland) project was to study the utilisation of health and wellbeing data about individuals to design personalised preventive services. The approach was based on the MyData principles: human-centric data control and privacy, data utilisation and an open business environment. The project outcomes include technological definitions for easy access to and portability of personal health data, as well as open environment business models, value chains and user-oriented service concepts in the healthcare sector. The aim of Insights and Business from Data ERDF funded project (DOB, 2016-2017)) was to help companies and other organizations exploit data analytics and service design to create new services. An innovation platform combining data analytics and service design was customized and piloted. The tools and methods as well as best practises has been customized as DOB toolbox which is disseminated under open license. The Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services (MIDAS, 2016-2020) H2020 EU-funded project will develop a pioneering digital platform for healthcare policy makers. This will allow these decision makers to tap into unstructured and unconnected healthcare data to better inform policy, reduce costs and improve the health and wellbeing of the population. The MIDAS platform will investigate the opportunities for connecting patient data from European health authorities with individual data collected from apps, sensors and social media. Complying with the highest standards of data protection and ethics, the data will be analysed on the MIDAS platform, which provides a tool for policy makers to benchmark, simulate and forecast outcomes of healthcare policy decisions.
- Building knowledge networks: exploitation of health data, and AI in health and social care
The DigiHealth Knowledge Hub (ERDF 2018-2020) promotes the development and use of ICT in the healthcare sector. The initiative is building operational models and networks for the digital health knowledge network. The Hub provides access to the latest knowledge, expertise and technology to support research, business development and health professionals. The Hub exchanges experience and information specifically on health data exploitation practices, creation of a health technology assessment framework, and exploitation of enabling technologies such as data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and digital technologies. The Hub offers a co-creation model and the benefits of regional ecosystems as well as national and international reference networks and partnerships.
Market and Services
- Life sciences & healthcare
- TRL1 - Basic principles observed and reported
- TRL2 - Technology concept and/or application formulated
- TRL3 - Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept
- TRL4 - Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment
- TRL5 - Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
- TRL6 - System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment
- TRL7 - System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- Awareness creation
- Ecosystem building, scouting, brokerage, networking
- Collaborative Researchs
- Testing and validation
- Incubator/accelerator support
- Voice of the customer, product consortia
- Market intelligence
- Education and skills development
BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES
Service: Business idea incubation and acceleration
Client profile: Kipuwex Ltd is a startup developing an IoT device for pain assessment. The Kipuwex device provides continuous and objective health and pain measurements to aid in treating pain in a timely manner. It also provides preventive pain alarms even when the patient is unable to express him/herself (e.g. infants, anaesthesia patients, the disabled and the elderly).
Client needs: Support on business idea development, co-creation of business idea, testing and piloting with health care providers and customers
Provided service: OuluHealth provided support regarding crystallising their business idea and iterating on their business plan through mentoring, sparring and workshopping with healthcare and business professionals. As a result, Kipuwex obtained significant feedback from hospital professionals that changed the original idea towards a more user-friendly and needs-based idea. http://www.oullabs.fi/en/news/
Client profile: Any company scaling up and looking for international partners, clients and funding
Client needs: Opportunities to meet potential customers, decision makers and investors
Provided Service: Annual events such as ecosystem days and demo days to support the growth of organisations and understanding the market needs of companies; providing information from novel digital solutions for health and social care professionals; and providing new knowledge and research to support digital transformation. Tailored business delegation trips to relevant countries and exhibitions.
COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Service: Innovation support
Client profile: Scandicode offers tools for broad cognition assessment by measuring attention, reaction, memory, decision making and concentration.
Client needs: Support on business idea development and business plan creation as well as support on co-creation/co-development through product life cycle
Provided service: OuluHealth provided support beginning with early idea incubation and continuing through the piloting of the prototype and funding. Initially, mentoring support was provided for formation of the concept. To mature the concept idea and business model, the startup accelerator programme was offered funding. Furthermore, the product concept was co-created and co-developed with health professionals. Product testing was done in OuluHealth Labs. Finally, OuluHealth was able to introduce Scandicode to the big players in the field and funding support was offered by OuluHealth Spark.More details: http://www.oulu.fi/cht/ouluhealth_proudly_presents_scandicode
Service: Hands-On eHealth for Medical Students
Client profile: Medical students near graduation (5th level), nursing students, and health IT company that wants feedback from young doctors and nurses
Students: Understanding new digital health solutions and how to use them in their future work
Companies: Interaction with 5th-level medical students, obtaining valuable feedback from them; opportunities to showcase new technologies for medical professionals
CO-CREATING AND EXPERIMENTING IN REAL-LIFE ENVIRONMENTS
Service: Co-creation and testing product/service with end users/customers in authentic environments
Client profile: Monidor Ltd is a health-technology startup which specialises in the development of small smart devices for digital health to help healthcare professionals in their daily work. Monidor has developed small and easy to use device to ensure proper intravenous therapy for every patient.
Client needs: End-user testing for their product
Provided service: OuluHealth provided co-creation and testing services in the living lab (OuluHealth Labs). Healthcare professionals tested the product and provided valuable feedback informing further development. Moreover, Monidor had the opportunity to test their product in Lund and Uppsala (Sweden) as OuluHealth Labs is a member of the Nordic Test Beds. http://ouluhealth.fi/ouluhealth-labs-test-environments-simulations-aid-companies/
Client profile: Buddy Healthcare is on a mission to transform care coordination in hospitals and clinics by making care accessible and measurable for everyone, everywhere and anytime. The BuddyCare App for patients provides patients all the information, tasks, questionnaires and instructions they need to navigate throughout a care period. The BuddyCare Dashboard provides care professionals real-time visibility over patients’ preparation and recovery procedures helping to focus on patients that need special attention.
Client needs: Testing of how the BuddyCare solution supports families preparing for surgeries and streamlines their entire surgery experience; testing of how the information provided by patients through BuddyCare supports healthcare professionals in their daily activities
Provided service: OuluHealth provided co-creation sessions with health professionals and a digital integration platform to test a digital solution in a real testing environment (OuluHealth Labs).
More details: http://ouluhealth.fi/pilots/testing-practicality-buddy-care-solution/
Networked organization, without formal structure
Number of employees
- Horizon 2020
- European Social Fund
- European Regional Development Fund
- National basic research funding
- National specific innovation funding
- Regional funding
- Private funding
- Partner resources
Number of customers annually
Type of customers
- Start-up companies
- SMEs (<250 employees)
- MidCaps (between €2-10 billion turnover)
- Large companies, multi-nationals
- Research organisations
Oulu University Hospital
City of Oulu
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Research & Technology organization
Oulu University of Applied Sciences
- Communication networks
- Internet of things
- Artificial intelligence
- Big data, data analytics, data handling
- Virtual, augmented and extended reality
- Simulation, modelling and digital twins
- Additive manufacturing