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Yesterday, Design Health Barcelona was introduced at a public event with representatives from the main hospitals and universities in the city, the Administration and potential fellows. Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona) is a pioneering training program to boost innovation, in which real unmet medical needs will become the basis of new technologies to improve the quality of patient care. Inspired by the prestigious Stanford Biodesign Fellowship and FutureMed (Singularity University) programs, d·HEALTH Barcelona is the flagship of Moebio, Biocat’s bet to accelerate entrepreneurship in healthcare and the life sciences.

“Design Health Barcelona is a talent incubator to foster entrepreneurial initiatives focused on medical innovation”, says Montserrat Vendrell, CEO of Biocat. “Healthcare is changing at a very fast pace. To overcome challenges such as population’s ageing and the rise of chronic diseases and to make health sector economically sustainable we need to implement new initiatives able to provide the solutions the society demands.”

d·HEALTH Barcelona, starting next September, seeks postgraduates in medicine, biosciences, engineering, economics and design who want to make a change in their careers and pursue entrepreneurship in the health sector. During eight months, selected fellows will work in multidisciplinary teams of four. The process will start with an immersion at a clinical setting in Barcelona to identify real unmet, needs. Then, fellows will design and prototype new products and services to solve them and, at the end of the program, they will pitch their innovations to a panel of investors to get the funding to implement them. Throughout the process, fellows will receive an intensive introduction to the clinical field to become experts on the chosen specialty area, will learn how to build a viable business and will receive training in areas such as design thinking or creative leadership through a series of classes and workshops taught by over 50 international experts.

The first edition of d·HEALTH Barcelona will have three to five teams of fellows. After an initial training period of five weeks (bootcamp), they will get immersed for two months (November-December 2013) in the daily routine of three hospitals in Barcelona that collaborate with the program: Barcelona Clinic Hospital, Sant Joan de Déu Hospital and Guttmann Institute. They will interact with all professionals involved in providing patient care, they will observe with fresh eyes, ask questions and identify dozens, even hundreds of unmet clinical needs.

In Phase II (January-February 2014), the teams will brainstorm, prototype and test early concepts to create, upon selected ideas, something that has value. In Phase III (March-April) fellows will build a business strategy and a plan and the program will end with an Investors' Day, where teams will present their products in front of an audience of investors.

d·HEALTH Barcelona is an innovative program in several ways: intensive immersion in a clinical setting, to work in a team in which knowledge (medicine, business, design ...) and experiences complement each other, new methodological approaches —based on workshops and group dynamics, presentations, open discussions with panels of experts, MOOCs ...—, the combination of master-classes on science, business and X-thinking taught by leading professionals from different backgrounds. Some of the sessions will be open to a broader audience to promote networking and interaction with the fellows.

d·HEALTH Barcelona has many national and International collaborators. One of them is KaosPilots, the prestigious Danish school of new business design and social innovation. Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius, the CEO of the KaosPilots, is a member of the program’s Advisory Board and will teach students how to become creative leaders. d·HEALTH Barcelona’s Faculty includes experts and entrepreneurs coming from health, economy and design such as John Collins, director of technology implementation at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) in Boston; Dan E. Azagury, Stanford Biodesign 2011-12 Grube fellow and co-founder of Ciel Medical Inc (Geneva); Yossi Bahagon, founder of the e-Health wing at Clalit Health Services (Jerusalem); Chia Hwu, CEO at Qubop (Silicon Valley); David Maltz, head of device development at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Co (Silicon Valley) and Lekshmy Parameswaran, co-founder of Fuelfor healthcare design and consulting firm (Barcelona – Singapore).

Moebio, the talent development initiative that includes d·HEALTH Barcelona, will consist of several long and short term training programs with a single, common goal: to promote entrepreneurship at the intersection of technology, life sciences, health and business. To help design advanced programs capable of responding to current challenges at a global scale, Moebio has an Advisory Board which includes, among others, the aforementioned Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius, director of KaosPilots, Lluís Torner, director of ICFO, John Collins (CIMIT), Yossi Bahagon (Health Services), Menno Van Dijk (THNK, The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership); Neo Kok-Beng (Stanford Biodesign, Singapore) and Xavier Verdaguer (Imagine).

Biodesign: innovation’s engine

In recent years, our knowledge in life sciences has increased exponentially and technology has become increasingly complex. At the same time, providing quality health care has become more difficult and expensive. There are many medical needs, some obvious and others that have not been identified even by the people closest to them. Innovation in healthcare offers huge opportunities for entrepreneurs, but is also a challenging field that requires new, interdisciplinary approaches.

Biodesign is a discipline that can be taught and learned. The biodesign innovation process was developed by Stanford University in its Satnford Biodesign Fellowship over a decade ago to help both novel and experienced innovators increase their likelihood of success. To date, it has graduated over 120 fellows and 700 students who have started 26 companies, raising over $200 million and creating over 500 new jobs. More importantly, far more than 150.000 patients have been benefited by technologies developed at the Program.

Stanford University has brought biodesign method to its affiliate programs in India and Singapore and Swedish (Karolinska Institutet, through the Center for Technology in Medicine and Health) and Irish (University Ireland Galway) institutions have launched initiatives inspired, as d·HEALTH Barcelona, by the Stanford program.

The Swedish initiative, launched in 2010, has already trained 12 fellows and accommodated 450 participants in 35 open sessions of the program. Teams working at the Karolinska Institutet have developed four innovations: a surgical device and hygienic device to reduce hospital infections that are currently under consideration for patents, a web service for chronic patients that is being tested and a protocol for emergency admissions which is already being used in the health system. Ireland BioInnovation program was launched in August 2011.

Life sciences and medical technologies in Catalonia

The BioRegion of Catalonia has 520 biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical technology and related services companies, 54 research centers, 20 science and technology parks, 10 universities offering life sciences studies and 440 consolidated research groups, most of them based in Barcelona.

12% (60) of companies in the BioRegion are devoted to research and produce medical technologies. According to the data collected at Biocat Directory, there are 40 more companies that develop electronic devices, software, instrumentation, laboratory materials and synthetic materials for application in health and biosciences. These 100 companies can also benefit from d·HEALTH Barcelona, being key partners to develop the products and services designed in the program.

“d·HEALTH Barcelona’s goal is not just to promote innovation within hospitals, but to boost the entire ecosystem of Catalan healthcare and life sciences. It is a unique opportunity to create a better future that, now more than ever, we have to promote and strengthen” ends Montserrat Vendrell.


Biocat is the organization that coordinates and promotes the biotechnology, biomedicine and medical technology sector in Catalonia. Created in 2006 thanks to the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council, Biocat brings together administrations, universities, research centers, companies and support bodies from all areas of the biomedicine and biotechnology sector with a major goal: to create an environment with a strong research system, active transfer of knowledge and an entrepreneurial business fabric that acts as a driving force for the country's economy and contributes to the wellbeing of society as a whole.

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