A smart tool to monitor and audit antibiotics to help the fight against antimicrobial resistance has been named the winner of this year’s Spark Ignite Innovation competition.
The project, which was developed by Mayo University Hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacists Marie Ronan and Rose Cafferkey, offers real-time surveillance of antibiotics, and could benefit patients throughout Ireland and further afield.
“Rose and I are delighted and proud to win this prestigious award for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team and Pharmacy Department in Mayo University Hospital. Being shortlisted for the HIHI Spark Ignite Award was an honour especially with the high calibre of entrants,” said Ms Ronan.
“Antimicrobial resistance affects us all and has the potential to have a devastating impact on all our lives.”
The competition is a collaboration between Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI), the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD), and National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP). It attracted more than 150 applications from HSE staff throughout the country, with a two-stage review process whittling the list down to 36 finalists for a bespoke innovation workshop.
The projects covered new products and services with commercial appeal, and healthcare service or process improvements applicable to any hospital or team, home and abroad. The main theme of the programme is that all ideas and projects have the patient and the care teams at their core.
The finalists developed their ideas with mentorship from the Health Innovation Hub Ireland national team, before advancing to regional pitching finals in Cork, Dublin and Galway.
The ideas were judged by a panel of experts from industry, venture capital investment, Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland, public and private healthcare, and academia.
The best single applicant and best team applicant from each region were then put forward to the national final held this week, receiving €3,000 each. Three additional prizes of €1,000 were awarded to the winners of the fastest to market category, novelty and one to watch. This year’s programme was conducted remotely.
"Spark Ignite is a unique interdisciplinary innovation competition where entrepreneurial HSE staff can develop their ideas through a series of workshops with mentorship from the Health Innovation Hub Ireland team," said Dr Ciara Carroll, National Fellow for Innovation and Change. "The funding awarded to the top projects pitched at regional and national level will help to transform these ideas into tangible solutions that will enhance healthcare delivery within the HSE and beyond."
Among the other regional finalists were a weekly blood exchange programme to use blood stocks more efficiently, and a novel non-invasive diagnostic tool for early detection of leaking amniotic fluid in expectant mothers
"The HIHI Spark Ignite, Innovation Competition this year has been a great success in the face of difficult circumstances," said HSE chief executive Paul Reid. "It is particularly encouraging to see the number of participants that continued to develop their ideas during a pandemic and is another testament to the dedication shown by all staff within the HSE."