With a new hospital being built near a university, more clinical-academic collaborations are in the future for Odense.
The picturesque old town of Odense features the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the world-famous fairy tale writer from the 1800s. But only 10 km away, an ambitious, modern life sciences enterprise is developing. The New University Hospital in Odense, simply called New OUH for now, is being built adjacent to the University of Southern Denmark.
The New University Hospital in Odense. Illustration: www.nytouh.dk
Even before the new hospital’s planned opening in 2022, people across this city of 175 000 on the island of Fyn, Denmark, are working to make Odense a center for connecting real-world clinical care to innovative technical interventions. Jane Clemensen heads the clinical research area of the OUH Innovation Unit at the Centre for Innovative Medical Technology (CIMT). At CIMT, which is a large partnership of the Region of Southern Denmark, the university, and OUH, Clemensen says, “Things are moving fast.” She stresses the importance of physically linking the university to New OUH. “I expect this to improve our already excellent collaboration,” she says, adding that even during the construction period, innovative research is underway.
Applying expertise in practical care
Because of Clemensen’s research program, OUH and CIMT have a particular strength in participatory design. This concept, often used in generating customer-friendly technology and services, engages product users in the design process. Their needs, interests, and preferences guide product development. For clinical improvements generated using participatory design, users who provide input include patients and their caregivers, hospital staff and leaders, and life science industry representatives.
An example of OUH’s approach to involving multiple perspectives in research is MAST, a model for evaluating telemedicine services that is used across the European Union. Using MAST, telemedicine quality is determined based on domains including patient perspectives, clinical effectiveness, and legal and economic factors.
Another CIMT-supported innovation is the Mit Forløb app. This digital product involves patients in the daily management and continuity of their care by providing personalized information and easy communication with their healthcare team about their condition. Clemensen notes that developing innovations using participatory design with patients, clinical personnel, and industry leaders means these parties all have a stake in their success.
“This approach to health sciences,” she says, “means immediate implementation locally and a chance to expand to other departments and hospitals.”
Building on a foundation in automation and robotics
The digital clinical innovations at CIMT are based on two of Odense’s particular strengths. The city is known for a practical approach to healthcare and a solid research base in automation and robotics, says Helge Holm-Larsen, managing director at Syddansk Innovation (SDI). SDI is a small-scale, preseed investment organization that supports development of early business ideas. Each project in the SDI portfolio is jointly funded by SDI, the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and the entrepreneurs themselves.
Life sciences, in addition to cleantech and information and knowledge technology, are an SDI focus. Examples of current SDI projects that showcase the region’s expertise in medical technology include an optics system to improve MRI quality by monitoring if patients are moving before scanning, new contrast fluids for imaging, devices for tracking if people are taking their medications with the correct timing and at the prescribed doses, and methods for surgeon-directed laproscopy that eliminate the need for a dedicated camera assistant.
Holm-Larsen echoes Clemensen in highlighting the high-quality healthcare at OUH that underlies all academic-clinical research partnerships. The hospital system has collaborative, patient-first principles and a practical focus on whole-patient care. Holm-Larsen says that his daughter, a medical student, chose to be trained in Odense over other options in Denmark specifically because of this philosophy of care.
A unifying theme runs through Odense’s approaches to healthcare and business, its strategies for cost-effective automated healthcare solutions, and its university-hospital research collaborations. “We take a practical approach to making real changes,” Holm-Larsen says. “Our defining characteristic is pragmatism.”
6 X life science companies in Odense:
A GMP contract laboratory with more than 20 years of experience. The company performs chemical, physical and microbiological analyses on raw material, intermediate and finished products and process samples to mention a few examples. The company mainly operates in the pharmaceutical, biotechnical and food industry.
Sanovo Biotech was founded in 2011 and works with R&D of high-affinity polyclonal avian antibodies for scientific research and diagnostics industries. They provide customers with readymade and customized antibody products in bulk and in research quantities.
An SME operating in the biotechnology sector with core competences within fermentation technologies. Unibio International was incorporated in 2014, and its 100% owned subsidiary company was incorporated in 2001. The global headquarters are located in London.
The medtech company aims to innovate how protein based clinical diagnostics are performed, initially through collaborations with scientists about developing new technologies and solutions to make sample separation faster and more robust than todays’ alternatives.
A manufacturer of PCR enzymes and laboratory reagents founded in 2002. The company produces a wide range of standard and customized products. The product range of Ampliqon is widely used in hospitals, universities, research institutions and life-science industries.
Since 2002 Alphalyse, a contract research laboratory proficient in protein chemistry, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics, has provided standard and custom protein analysis services to the pharmaceutical industry, biotech companies and universities world-wide.