22nd February 2022
This week we caught up with Joseph Lanzillotta at Trinity College Dublin as part of EIT Health Ireland-UK’s ‘Conversations with our Network’ series. Joe has been Student Entrepreneurship Programme Manager at Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace since 2018. As part of his role, Joe is responsible for running the EIT Health-supported Innovation Days (i-Days) programme.
i-Days promote health innovation among university students through dozens of one-day and two-day programmes held in academic institutions around Europe. Students from all academic areas receive an introduction to practical health innovation tools and compete in teams to tackle real-life health challenges posed by EIT Health, local organisations, private corporations, or start-ups. Students may be set challenges by industry and as part of multidisciplinary teams to develop innovative solutions to challenges proposed by the likes of Essilor.
During our chat Joe explained to us how Trinity’s participation in the i-Days programme works in practice and why it is important to them to regularly be involved in these challenge-based innovation competitions.
Why did the team at Trinity decide to start running i-Days?
Trinity College Dublin has a diverse community of students that are excited to innovate. The annual i-Days programme gives us the opportunity to bring that community together and focus on innovation in the healthcare sector.
What preparation is involved in running i-Days?
Each year we start by inviting innovation subject matter experts and mentors. This then helps us design a schedule with a view to keeping student participants engaged and energized, with support from EIT Health. Once that is organized we then begin promoting the event throughout the university. It is open to all students, no matter the faculty.
How does the programme run on the day?
On the day participants arrive, listen, and learn from the experts and mentors. At i-Days 2021, Dr. Esther Murphy from Digi-Academy, a project that aims to address the challenge of digital inclusion and low usage of digital technologies amongst people with intellectual disabilities, presented to the students to kick off the event. Her aim was to inspire them and encourage empathy in their ideation process.
Then they split into groups to ideate or build teams around existing ideas. Once an idea is formed, groups get feedback and advice from the mentors to inform their development. Finally, they design a pitch and present to a panel of judges.
What benefits do i-Days provide Trinity learners?
There is always significant benefit to all who participate in i-Days. Primarily the experience in rapidly going from idea to pitch over the course of one or two days. There is also significant value in the exposure to knowledge on niche subjects, and a great networking opportunity.
The winning team of each i-Day attends the Winners’ Event, a final competition that unites students from around Europe. The most recent i-Days European winners pitched an innovative digital communicator for patients with the language disorder aphasia, resulting from a stroke. A winning team from University of Zagreb, called Formula AI, even got to meet the Croatian President, Zoran Milanović earlier this month. They now have the opportunity to attend the EIT Health Summit 2022.
Register for the EIT Health Summit.