International healthcare connections can aid local economy

Global collaboration between academia, healthcare practitioners and industry can boost local R&D potential and open up opportunities in the ICT and Life Sciences sectors.

That was the message from Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster as she welcomed more than 100 global healthcare leaders to Northern Ireland at the first European Connected Health Summit in Belfast, today.

The two-day summit aims to develop the 2009-2011 framework for projects and priorities within the European Connected Health Campus (ECHCampus), which was officially launched by the Minister earlier this year. The ECHCampus will position Northern Ireland at the centre of an international collaborative Connected Health network, supporting the Northern Ireland Executive’s focus on developing a strong, knowledge-based economy.

Opening the summit Arlene Foster said: “At the launch of the ECHCampus earlier this year, the vast economic potential of the emerging healthcare sector was highlighted. This summit will now help the European Connected Health Campus to set its key targets to facilitate the commercialisation of local knowledge in international markets and profile our world class Research and Development (R&D) expertise in a specialist sector.

“Connected Health is a competitive and rapidly developing area, one which Invest Northern Ireland is actively targeting for high value investment opportunities. It is vital therefore that we support and encourage global collaboration between academia, healthcare practitioners and industry. This will help us to fully exploit our research capability and open up opportunities in the ICT and Life Sciences sectors.

“The healthcare sector is not immune to the current economic situation and many organisations are seeking ways in which to reduce costs, while maintaining the highest standards, when treating chronic illnesses. The ECHCampus and the direction provided by this summit will support the development of cutting edge products and concepts that excel in export markets, secure new investment and deliver results for healthcare providers and their patients.”

Invest Northern Ireland, BioBusiness NI, Momentum, Queen's University, University of Ulster, Titanic Quarter and the Northern Ireland Science Park are working in partnership to support the ECHCampus. Bosch, CA, Bayer and Intel have already joined the ECHCampus as Foundation Members, bringing their international skills and expertise to Northern Ireland.

In addition, the Continua Alliance, a global organisation representing over 180 companies, the Centre for Connected Health, Boston, USA and the Netwell Centre, Dundalk, Republic of Ireland have joined the Campus as its first Alliance Partners.

Eoin Lambkin, Director of the European Connected Health Campus added: “The summit and its collaborative work in creating our Connected Health Manifesto marks an important stage for the Campus as we develop the strategy that will direct our research efforts and help us to effectively engage with our local and global partners.

“It is an exciting development for ECHCampus and one which has placed this region’s internationally competitive, connected health capability firmly on the map.”