A Government-backed initiative that encourages entrepreneurs to collaborate with official bodies such as the HSE to test their products, services and devices before they go to market, is expanding with new hubs in Dublin and Galway.
The Health Innovation Hub Ireland, which was launched in Cork in 2016, is aimed at strengthening collaboration between Irish companies and the public health sector. It provides budding entrepreneurs with an opportunity to carry out pilot and clinical validation studies, while also giving health sector bodies early access to innovative solutions.
A new hub based at St James's hospital in Dublin, which will operate in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, opened on Thursday. A third location is scheduled to open in Galway later this year.
Since 2016, the initiative has run 25 studies in Irish healthcare settings, with 72 companies receiving follow-up support.
Among the work undertaken so far as part of the initiative has been the pilot-testing of new medical devices, software packages for health and safety reporting and illustrated booklets explaining vaccinations to school children.
Companies that have participated in the scheme include medical devices firm Ostoform, which has developed a device for stoma management after surgery. Earlier this week it announced a €1.1 million fundraising with participants including Enterprise Ireland, Sean O'Sullivan's SOSV and the Halo Business Angel Network.
Other participants include Combimark, VClarity and Innerstrength Health, a highly regarded start-up that took part in the initiative to test its flagship product TickerFit.
The Government group overseeing the scheme includes representatives from the Department of Health, the HSE, the Health Research Board and Science Foundation Ireland.
Speaking at the opening of the Dublin hub on Thursday, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he hoped innovative ideas would not come solely from entrepreneurs, but also from those working within the health sector.