Dodds launches innovative health service centre of excellence

A new £1.6million Centre of Excellence will help commercialise ground breaking products and concepts developed within the Health Service.

Economy Minister Nigel Dodds launched the Health and Social Care (HSC) Innovations Centre of Excellence which will provide innovation management services and exploit the Intellectual Property (IP) assets developed from employee innovations and ideas arising from research and healthcare delivery.

The centre will identify and explore opportunities to obtain, protect and use these IP assets, using methods such as patents and design rights. The initiative will identify new technologies and services to create commercial opportunities, possible collaborations with local businesses and spin-out companies. This will ultimately bring potential products to market that will improve patient care.

The Centre of Excellence will also create a culture of IP awareness and innovation through an integrated staff training programme. The training will look at IP assets and how they have been successfully applied to such equipment as the world’s first mobile defibrillator which was created in Belfast in 1965, novel therapies and diagnostic procedures and new medications.

Speaking at the launch event, the Minister said: “The ability to identify new products and bring knowledge based research to commercial viability is key to Northern Ireland’s economic competitiveness.

“Working with Invest NI, the HSC Innovations Centre of Excellence will harness the research and technology strengths of the Health Service, creating potentially lucrative international trade opportunities for local businesses.”

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, through its Research & Development Office, has part-funded the Centre of Excellence.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “To make real improvements in health and social care, we need to exploit new ideas and innovations. The aim is to identify new technologies and services arising from research and clinical practice, and ensure they are developed to improve patient care.

“HSC Innovations will help channel these novel developments in a way that will enable all the people of Northern Ireland to benefit from the latest advances in knowledge and technology, for better health and social wellbeing.”

Dr David Brownlee, Innovation Advisor at the CRSC, said: “The Clinical Research Support Centre has been leading IP asset management within the Health Service since 2005. This new Centre of Excellence, set up with Invest NI’s support, will provide an improved IP and innovation management service for the HSC in Northern Ireland. This will ensure that ideas for new therapies, devices and procedures with the potential to improve health and social care are developed in conjunction with industry and clinical partners.”

The initiative is supported by Invest Northern Ireland through its successful Centres of Excellence programme. The Health and Social Care (HSC) Innovations Centre of Excellence project will be delivered by the Clinical Research Support Centre (CRSC) based at the Royal Victoria Hospital. The CRSC provides support for research carried out in the Health Service across Northern Ireland and is hosted by the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust (BHSCT).

The project is also funded through the HSC Research and Development Office and the Public Sector Research Exploitation (PSRE) fund, a programme of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.