Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Conversations with our Network: Dundalk Institute of Technology

20th May 2024

In the latest edition of the Conversations with our Network series, we connect with Carl Power, Programme Director, DigiBio Healthtech Innovation Programme.  

The DigiBio programme is run by Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) in partnership with RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and Tyndall National Institute. DigiBio is supported under the Innovators’ Initiative Programme co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027.  

Spearheaded by Carl, this programme offers a unique blend of entrepreneurial education and innovation training in digital health, equipping participants with the skills and mindset to drive impactful change in healthcare. Carl brings a wealth of experience to his role, having previously led dConnect, Digital Health Innovation hub at Dk IT, and worked extensively with start-ups and university spinouts. 

Earlier this year, DkIT joined EIT Health Ireland-UK as a network partner. During our discussion, Carl shares more insights into DigiBio’s emphasis on needs-led innovation and the partnership with EIT Health. Read on… 

Q1: What are the core objectives and structure of the DigiBio Programme? 

The primary objective of the programme is to support the next generation of healthtech innovators and entrepreneurs in Ireland. It’s a hands-on training programme aimed at developing leaders who can address significant healthcare challenges. This 10-month long programme, commencing in September, operates as a postgraduate diploma. It is structured around the Stanford Biodesign needs-led innovation methodology and lean start-up approaches. Participants, or fellows, work in multidisciplinary teams to identify, validate, and address healthcare needs, culminating in a business proposal. 

Q2: What sets DigiBio apart from other digital health innovation programmes? 

DigiBio starts with identifying needs within healthcare environments, offering a unique perspective compared to idea-led or technology-led approaches. The programme provides immersive experiences, funding, and mentorship to help fellows develop viable solutions in digital health.  

Moreover, DigiBio offers financial support in the form of a stipend of €38k, enabling experienced professionals to participate without worrying about financial constraints. Overall, DigiBio’s focus on needs-led innovation, coupled with its supportive environment and robust funding, distinguishes it as one of the leading programmes in the digital health innovation landscape. 

Q3: As the programme director, what inspired you to lead the DigiBio programme? 

My years of experience working with start-ups highlighted common challenges, such as starting with an idea rather than a need. Traditional approaches often prioritise technology or ideas over genuine needs, leading to solutions that struggle to gain traction. DigiBio’s emphasis on need identification aligns with my belief that understanding and addressing real-world problems is fundamental to successful innovation. Additionally, the programme’s structured team-based approach and financial support offer a unique opportunity to empower aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs, driving meaningful change in healthcare. 

Q4: What do you believe are the key challenges and opportunities facing digital health innovation today, and how does DigiBio address them? 

Digital health innovation faces numerous challenges, including a complex regulatory environment, slow adoption by healthcare providers, and lengthy go-to-market timelines. DigiBio addresses this by providing direct access to healthcare environments for validation and trials, helping fellows navigate the complexities of healthcare systems. By focusing on needs-led innovation and fostering collaboration with industry partners, DigiBio will facilitate the development of solutions that are more likely to be adopted and integrated into healthcare systems. 

Q5: What excites you the most about the future of digital health innovation, and how do you see DigiBio contributing to this landscape? 

The potential for digital health innovation to transform healthcare delivery excites me. DigiBio’s focus on needs-driven innovation and hands-on training equips fellows with the skills and mindset to navigate this evolving landscape. By providing resources and offering direct access to healthcare environments, DigiBio will help innovators to develop solutions that have a tangible impact on healthcare systems. 

Q6: How do you think the partnership between DkIT and EIT Health will support the ecosystem? 

The partnership between DkIT and EIT Health is invaluable in fostering innovation and talent development. By leveraging EIT Health’s resources and networks, we can amplify the impact of programmes like DigiBio. Together, we can create opportunities for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and mentorship, ultimately driving positive change in healthcare innovation. 

Join us for the official launch of the DigiBio Healthtech Innovation Programme where you will have the opportunity to learn more about the programme and its application process, taking place on 21st May at the DkIT campus.  

Important Dates for the DigiBio Programme: 

Applications Open: Now
Application Deadline: June 14, 2024
Shortlisted Applicants Notified: Early July, 2024
Programme Commencement: September, 2024 

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