KI focuses on innovations for elderly health

Published 2016-06-13 17:30. Updated 2016-06-14 14:11Denna sida på svenska

With its EIT Health programme, the EU is investing in innovative solutions to ageing and health. Karolinska Institutet wants to encourage its students and staff to cultivate an innovative and entrepreneurial mentality.

Inger Lundqvist. Foto: Camilla Svensk“We want to make much more use of the research being done and show the students the potential of innovation,” says Inger Lundqvist, project manager at Karolinska Institutet Innovation Office.

Ms Lundqvist’s job is to coordinate all three parts of EIT Health at KI: research, education and entrepreneurship. EIT Health is an EU-financed programme involving top European universities, leading caregivers and companies. It is hoped that the closer collaborative links between research and industry thus formed will give rise to new innovations able to promote a healthy life, active ageing and more effective care.

“EIT Health is one of several initiatives that KI has taken on innovation and entrepreneurship,” she says.

It is hoped that in the long run the project will help to improve the quality of life and healthcare services in Europe by introducing newly developed products and services.

“One of the greatest challenges facing society is the ageing population,” says Professor Jan-Olov Höög, Scandinavian director for EIT Health Education. “Elderly people need to live a more active, healthier life if they’re to keep the doctor away.”

If the integration of entrepreneurship, research and higher education becomes more natural, it will be easier to produce more innovations more quickly.

“We want to get new innovative companies up and running that focus on the health of elderly people,” says Professor Höög.

It is hoped that EIT Health projects around Europe will come up with 80 new entrepreneurial ideas by the end of 2016, and that by 2018 there will be 70 new start-ups a year.

The degree of success of the project will depend on getting the students on board.

“We want the students to become acquainted with entrepreneurship so that they are equipped to take on the major challenges of the future,” says Professor Höög, who points out that a government order is already in place that all education programmes are to have entrepreneurship on the syllabus.

There are already a number of educational activities being run under the EIT Health programme at KI, including the Innovation Day on 18 November at which students will be able to work in teams to tackle real challenges from companies and develop innovative solutions. There will also be a competitive element to make it that little bit more exciting.

“In Stockholm we had a workshop at the end of April with over 30 participants, including students, teachers, researchers and a company representative, who provided the actual challenge,” says Hanna Jansson, head of the Unit for Bioentrepreneurship and the Starter Lab.

The next stop on the workshop’s European tour is Lisbon on 6-8 October.

“It’s also a contest, but the idea is not to get hung up on winning but to take part in and learn from the process,” says Dr Jansson.


TEXT: Maja Lundbäck