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Major health care players join forces


University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU), Utrecht University, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Philips today announced their intention to share their knowledge, expertise and capacity for innovation to research and develop new methods for disease diagnosis and treatment based on medical imaging. Through the establishment of the Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging (IDII), they will focus on more effective treatments for cancer, brain disease and cardio-vascular disease. This public-private partnership is essential to speeding up the development and use of new medical solutions that aim to improve patient care and make it more cost-efficient.

The consortium will focus on the development of new image-guided minimally-invasive treatments based on MRI and X-ray imaging. The 2-D, 3-D and 4-D (3-D + time) images that can be produced using these imaging technologies are already providing doctors with an increased amount of meaningful information about each patient. The consortium aims to further develop this medical information and use it in new treatment methods. It also intends to develop new navigation technologies with the objective to make minimally-invasive procedures more precise and less complex.

‘Operating’ without making an incision'
Thanks to advances in medical science and technology, it is increasingly possible to carry out treatments using a catheter or needle rather than having to perform open surgery. In some cases, treatment can be given without making any incision in the patient at all − for example, using image-guided radiation therapy based on X-ray radiation or ultrasound waves. Because such treatments can be performed more targeted and less invasively, patients may be able to leave hospital sooner, which is an example of why medical imaging is playing an increasingly important role in the search for answers to the rising demand for healthcare, the increasingly acute shortage of hospital personnel and the rising cost of healthcare provision.

Public-private partnership
The opportunity for the consortium partners to not only share their knowledge but also share expensive and complex innovation facilities, such as clinical laboratories of the UMCU and the scanner technology research facilities at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, will make cooperation easier and speed up innovation. The knowledge, methodologies, software and technologies that are acquired through the consortium’s combination of academic science and industrial R&D will be translated into the industrial manufacturing of new systems that can be used in clinical practice. Philips' development and production site in Best will play an important role in bringing to market new solutions that arise from the partnership and in bringing them closer to the patient. In the future, the cooperation will be expanded to include other innovative private partners as well.

Call from the World Health Organization (WHO)
The Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging (IDII) forms part of the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative NL (IMDI.nl). This was set up after a call from the WHO in 2007 for greater technological innovation in the healthcare sector. The initiative aims to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure in the field of medical devices in the Netherlands. Through this, the IDMI.nl aims to ensure that healthcare in the Netherlands is safe, affordable and mindful of the shortage of personnel. The IMDI.nl also aims to make a meaningful contribution to the economy and science in the Netherlands.

Through this initiative, the Netherlands' is reaffirming its role as a leader in the field of innovation in healthcare. The initiative also further strengthens the Netherlands' leading international economic and scientific position in the field of medical imaging.

Prof. Dr. Jan Kimpen, chairman of the Executive Board of the University Medical Center Utrecht: “Medical imaging is a promising and versatile technology that can be used in many ways in patient care. With this collaboration we will be able to innovate close to the patient. By involving patients, we will not have four, but actually five partners!”

Mr. Frans van Houten, CEO Royal Philips Electronics: “Today we are creating a powerful triangle of academia, industry and clinical practice in order to improve our healthcare provision. This initiative means that all parties are involved more closely and at an earlier stage in the innovation process, and it also gives Philips new and valuable insights based on the most up-to-date clinical practice. It is only by working together in this way that we will be able to develop new and promising medical solutions at a faster rate and apply them in global healthcare.”
Dr. ir. Arno Peels, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e): “The added value of this public-private partnership is faster innovation that will lead to the more rapid discovery of solutions for society's problems and, in due course, faster economic results. This ties in seamlessly with our input for the 'top sector' policy: innovation in both society and the economy − innovation to produce solutions for major challenges in society.”

Ms. Yvonne van Rooy, President of the Executive Board of Utrecht University: “With the UMC Utrecht and the faculties of science and technology as well as veterinary medicine, the Utrecht Science Park boasts a unique concentration of knowledge institutes in the field of life sciences. Thanks to the strategic alliance with the Eindhoven University of Technology, we represent a strong partner for industry, both on a national and a European level, at the promising interface of technology and life sciences. This new consortium is further evidence of that.”
04 April 2012