Ask healthcare personnel what they need help with solving. Then match those needs with innovators, entrepreneurs and researchers that might already sit on a suitable solution or who could crack the issue faster with accelerated access to relevant insights and knowledgeable counterparts on the user end. This is the simple, but rather brilliant concept of Inn2Health.
Inn2Health offers a win-win situation. Healthcare providers get help in tackling needs that they feel are not sufficiently addressed by current products and services. Entrepreneurs and researchers are given a fast-track route to new market opportunities and research fields. But what really makes Inn2Health stand out is the focus on cross-technology and cross-sector collaboration. The project brings a broad mix of competences, experiences, and backgrounds to the table.
“Instead of just focusing on traditional life science actors, we combine them with urban developers, smart textiles experts, mobility specialists, gamification wizards, sustainable materials professionals and more. Sector convergence is driving the future of healthcare and Inn2Health is here to accelerate that development”, says Malin Johansson, one of two Inn2Health project leaders at Sahlgrenska Science Park.
Improving healthcare in four dimensions
Since the start in early 2019, Inn2Health has so far addressed four areas of defined unmet needs. The first one – healthcare visit no-shows – is an enormous problem with vast implications for both patients and healthcare personnel. It also costs society a fortune every year. In Region Västra Götaland no-shows were estimated to a sunken 590 million Swedish kronor during 2018 alone. But, the issue was complex and necessary to break down into several subcategories. This was a challenge in terms of coordination and very time consuming for both project partners and participants.
“Inn2Health had a rather bumpy journey during that first period, but we learned a lot that has helped us to refine the project model and improve the set-up of our process. We also realised that it is crucial to have the concerned healthcare representatives engaged in all steps along the way”, says Jessica Planefeldt, the other project leader working side by side with Malin Johansson.
As a next step, the project team took on two very different needs. One with a current and relatively simple scope – personal protective equipment in covid-19 care; and a second with far bigger complexity and longer lead times – prediction of COPD exacerbations. The work done in both these areas have led to explorative use of innovations, new collaboration partners finding each other and hands-on support to entrepreneurs and smaller companies with ambitious solutions under way.
“By utilising the different skills and networks among all project partners better we have landed in a format that delivers tangible results. We now offer all entrepreneurs and companies a bespoke team of experts helping them address the defined needs. It is our hope that this will accelerate innovation and implementation, and at the same time strengthen their business acumen. For example, you can get access to expertise in project management, financing, validation, regulatory models, technology development, procurement and purchasing processes”, says Jessica Planefeldt.
The neglected patient perspective
Following the focus on protective equipment in covid-19 care, the project team felt there was more to explore linked to the pandemic.
With the first months of chaos in the intensive care units behind us, the spotlight turned to other issues. The most pressing one being rehabilitation and long-term illness following the acute phase. Physical as well as mental symptoms affects many patients long after the initial disease, and the disabilities often limit daily life. Healthcare systems are simply not designed to manage this massive after care demand, and those falling between the cracks are the patients and their families.
During the Cross Collaboration Day in December, Emma Mårtensson from the Swedish Covid Association held a highly appreciated presentation. The association was founded by a group of long-term sufferers who shared and discuss their experiences via Facebook during the spring and summer. To date, the group has over 1600 members and growing fast.
“Emma’s blunt messages resonated with all of us, realising how easy it is to underestimate covid-19. Especially the fatigue that seems to be a dominant long-term feature, making it very tough to manage work and day-to-day chores. New innovations and ideas are desperately needed in this field”, says Malin Johansson.
The ideal company or entrepreneur for Inn2Health
Inn2Health has proven to be best suited for companies and entrepreneurs with a product or solution with potential for further development, and who are willing to do this in close collaboration with healthcare. A strong drive is also a prerequisite for success, as the project organisation will not do the work for you.
“We offer business advisory, a relevant network, guiding and support in working with healthcare and we try to act as a catalyser in both ends, for the healthcare, and for the problem solvers”, says Jessica Planefeldt.
Looking to the future
In the short term, the project ambition is to match innovations to current issues within healthcare. But looking at a longer perspective there is also an ambition to increase collaboration between healthcare, researchers, and industry.
“If we can look back at Inn2Health as a door opener for unexpected meetings leading to true cross-functional and cross-sector perspectives where industry and researchers from other sectors are welcomed into health, then we’ve made an impact that matters. We’ve got so much to learn from each other, and healthcare is really something that affects us all”, says Malin Johansson.
If you want to know more about the defined needs addressed by Inn2Health, you can find recordings of past Cross Collaboration Day presentations, insights and background information around the need areas and more on the project meeting portal.
Inn2Health is formally run by a joint project team representing six West Swedish science parks (Sahlgrenska Science Park, Lindholmen Science Park, Johanneberg Science Park, Science Park Borås, Science Park Skövde and Wargön Innovation/Innovatum), the medtech research collaboration platform MedTech West and Region Västra Götaland’s central purchasing department and innovation implementation team Innovationsplattformen. Sahlgrenska Science Park acts as project leader utilising their central role within life science business. Financial support comes from Region Västra Götaland and Tillväxtverket – the Swedish agency for economic and regional growth.