27th October 2022
This month we interviewed Innovation Lead Valentina Isetta as part of our Meet the Team series. We recently welcomed Valentina back from maternity leave so it is an opportune time to introduce her to those of you who are new followers to EIT Health Ireland-UK.
Hailing from Italy, Valentina is passionate about travelling, live music and yoga. A mother to three young children, she values family time a great deal, and loves to catch up with friends over dinner when she can.
Valentina is a Biomedical Engineer by training and has a PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona (UB), where she held an Associate Professor position until 2021. At UB she was involved in the research and coordination of projects which evaluated medical devices and digital health solutions for home care patients.
Offering her skills as a regular independent evaluator of research projects in life sciences, Valentina is an expert in needs-led innovation. She often trains and mentors young innovators on business creation in highly regulated environments.
Having accumulated extensive knowledge of the health innovation landscape when working as a Senior Programme Manager with Biocat, Valentina joined EIT Health Ireland-UK in early 2020. During her time with us so far she has played a key role in connecting the Irish and UK innovation communities with the broader European health ecosystem, and is an active member of the busy pan-European Innovation Management Group.
Tell us about your journey into innovation to date.
I come from the research world. I loved what I was doing, but I wanted to create a more tangible impact, a higher value to people’s health and lives. So after 10+ years of clinical research in bioengineering, in 2016 I decided to quit my job and joined Moebio d·Health, one of the innovation fellowships co-funded by EIT Health. My journey into innovation (and EIT Health) started then.
What is your recommended approach to innovation?
As a Biodesign trainer and coach, I firmly believe that the very first start for any innovation is a compelling need, especially in the health space. You can have the best and most disruptive technology in your hands, but if it doesn’t solve any patient’s pain or make any clinician’s job easier, you won´t go far!
What is the most interesting innovation project you have worked on?
All the projects I supported so far were interesting! If I have to choose, I’d pick Roliner, an innovation project led by the UK-based start-up Unhindr that is developing the world’s first adaptive robotic prosthetics liner. I love the way they are developing their technology hand-in-hand with amputee patients, making sure to create a solution aligned with their needs. When you involve patients from the very beginning you start creating impact right away! Unhindr was recently awarded a £500,000 Industrial Research grant by Innovate UK, in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre and Imperial College London. The manufacturing feasibility is proven and the team is now preparing for a UK-based clinical trial.
Why did you decide to join EIT Health Ireland-UK?
Three years ago, I moved to Ireland with my family. I was sure I wanted to continue supporting health innovators on their journies, as well as build strong relationships and collaborations within a vibrant innovation ecosystem such as the Irish one. Working at EIT Health Ireland-UK was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
What key areas is EIT Health aiming to address in this year’s flagships call?
We have recently launched our new call for proposals, built around three main flagship topics. We are looking for consortia exploring new models to deliver healthcare based on outcomes that matter to patients, for initiatives aimed at facilitating the uptake of digital medical devices in Europe and for health solutions harnessing the full potential of health data for innovation.
What advice would you give to those seeking to build consortia?
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