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This morning Design Health Barcelona’s 2013-2014 edition has officialy been launched. The program, promoted by Biocat, will bring disruptive innovation to the Catalan health sector and puts Barcelona in the first division of cities that promote innovation in medical technologies in the world.

"Design Health Barcelona was created to detect and direct hospitals’ innovation potential and to train professionals in critical thinking" said Montserrat Vendrell, CEO of Biocat, during the inaugural speech. She has also explained why Biocat decided to develop such a disruptive program. "Catalonia, with 16 university hospitals and a long industrial tradition in both pharmaceutical and medical technologies fields, it is an ideal location for Design Health Barcelona because the program can act as an ignitor to promote the international competitiveness of our businesses and attract investment for new products and services.

At the opening ceremony, which took place this morning at the Mobile World Centre in Plaça Catalunya, was also present Gabriel Capellá, director of Research and Innovation at the Health Department Government of Catalonya who ensured that, his team, is really concerned about medical innovation. "It is a very important unresolved matter for us and we want to change this situation promoting the transfer of knowledge and encouraging innovation in healthcare organizations. This is why we feel Design Health Barcelona it is an exemplary initiative."

The highlight of the inaugural session was the keynote given by an internationally renowned Catalan entrepreneur, Josep Amat, PhD in industrial engineering from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and professor of architecture and technology of computers and robotics. Amat has been a pioneer innovating at the intersection of robotics and medicine. Among others, he developed the robotic control to guide cameras in laparoscopic surgery.

"Catalonia has a great strength in research and advances in the medical technologies provide clear opportunities to innovate in diagnosis, treatment, surgery and rehabilitation" explained Dr Amat during his lecture in which he also stressed that we have to take advantage of the moment we are living to launch entrepreneurial activites in healthcare "we have motivated medical professionals, industrial support, social interest and investors’ interest." According to him, "both interdisciplinary and industrial visions of the problem, imagination, rigor, hard work and perseverance" are the key facts to run successful projects.

At the end of the event, Biocat introduced the 2013-2014 class of Design Health Barcelona, a group of 12 young people from the U.S., Germany, Italy and Spain that, all together, have 105 scientific publications, 18 professional awards and 6 patents.

"Being able to create solutions to improve the medicine of the future is exciting" said Arnau Valls, one of the fellows. "In biology and medicine there are many problems that can be solved with engineering" added Italian engineer Mattia Bossio. For American Susan Feitoza, as for other fellows, one the best aspects of d•HEALTH Barcelona is "the opportunity to work with designers, doctors and professionals coming from different sectors."

d·HEALTH Barcelona is the first training program in biodesign taught in Spain and responds to a growing need for skilled professionals to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and professional development in the biomedical field. It is inspired by the demanding program FutureMed at Singularity University and the prestigious Stanford Biodesign Fellowship which, in its twelve years of operation, has trained over 700 professionals and has led to the creation of 26 companies that have raised over $200 million dollars in patents and created more than 500 jobs. In addition, more than 195,000 patients have benefited from technologies that have emerged in the program. Similarly, in d·HEALTH Barcelona, real, unmet needs identified in the three hospitals that are partners of the program, Hospital Clínic, Hospital Sant Joan de Deu and Guttmann Institute, will become the basis for creating new technologies that will improve the quality of medical care.

From September 2013 to June 2014, fellows will learn how to identify clinical problems, design solutions and start up new, viable, business models, products and services. Next Monday, September 16th will mark the start of the bootcamp, the initial stage in which fellows will meet and know each other and receive the first classes in biodesign. In late October, fellows, divided into three multidisciplinary teams of four, will begin their clinical immersion. During two months, they will experience the daily routines at Hospital Clínic, Hospital Sant Joan de Deu and Guttmann Institute. They will interact with doctors, nurses and patients and know, on first hand, the working dynamics of a large hospital. During the immersion they will have to identify hundreds of unmet needs to later design, develop and prototype new products and services to solve them. 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 chosen clinical 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 70 international experts.

Design Health Barcelona has the support of leading companies in the pharmaceutical sector, including Sanofi, of consultant firms in the technology sector such as Accenture, the HUBc (Health University of Barcelona Campus) and public agencies such as the AGAUR.

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