Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, and Minister for Health James Reilly, TD, today (Monday, 16 December 2013) welcomed the announcement by Sláinte Healthcare that it will create 80 new jobs in the coming year.
The jobs announcement came as the Ministers launched a second call for proposals for innovative healthcare solutions launched by the pilot Health Innovation Hub. Sláinte Healthcare was one of the companies engaged in the first tranche of projects involved in this initiative
The Health Innovation Hub Demonstrator project, a Government supported initiative under the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, drives collaboration between the health system and enterprises leading to the commercialisation of new healthcare technologies, products and services. The call for proposals includes a focussed call for projects in infection control and hygiene management as well as an open call for innovative products or services that have the potential to significantly impact the healthcare system. Details of the call are published on the new website for the Health Innovation Hub which also went live today.
Minister Bruton said: "A key feature of the Action Plan for Jobs is that it involves all Government Departments and dozens of Agencies - using all the resources of Government to tackle the major challenge that we face, namely job-creation. The Health Innovation Hub is an example of this approach - through this project we are marshalling the resources of the health system to support job-creation. Through this hub, healthcare companies with can gain access to the health system to trial their products and services, honing and improving them in response to real-life demands. The health system, in turn, benefits by gaining access to cutting edge products and services to solve real problems it faces.
"Today's announcement that Sláinte Healthcare, one of the six companies that have been involved in the Hub since the beginning, is creating 80 jobs over the coming year, is a great example of what is possible in this sector, and I wish them continued success. Today Minister Reilly and I are announcing a second call for projects to take part in this initiative. We firmly believe that the Health Innovation Hub has great potential to accelerate the growth of Irish companies in this sector while also providing solutions to problems faced by the health service. We are determined to press on with the development of this project as part of our overall plan to support Irish enterprises and create the jobs we need".
Minister Reilly also welcomed Sláinte Healthcare's announcement. He referred to the very positive work being carried out by the Cork Demonstrator project with Sláinte and five other companies. He said that the Health Innovation Hub initiative provided a unique opportunity for enterprise and for the health system. "This initiative has great potential to benefit both innovative Irish companies and the wider health system. More importantly, it holds the potential to improve how we manage and treat patients. Advances in technology and methods of working and how we harness these will help us keep people healthy, and keep them where they want to be - with family, and at home."
Minister Reilly referred to this as an important and opportune time, with a renewed and invigorating emphasis on innovation. "Last week, I published Ireland's eHealth Strategy, which seeks to utilise to the full all of the many benefits which today's ICT has to offer in modernising the way we treat patients and particularly in providing care in the most appropriate setting and at the most appropriate level within the health services. I also published the Health Identifier Bill 2013, which will further improve patient safety and which will enable us to manage the health system more efficiently, while supporting the health research and innovation agenda. A healthy workforce is essential for a healthy economy but this development really demonstrates how health itself can generate more jobs for the economy."
The Minister welcomed the fact that the Demonstrator Project in Cork was now managing a second call for proposals that can bring innovative solutions to health needs.
Speaking today about the launch of the new call, Dave Shanahan, Chair of the Health Innovation Hub National Implementation Team, said: "The commitment made under the Action Plan for Jobs to Deliver a National Health Innovation Hub took a major step forward today with the announcement of the second call for the Cork Health Innovation Hub, our demonstrator site, to help us develop our national agenda. Our second larger call provides greater opportunities for industry to work with health. Our website www.hih.ie explains the ambition and provides a portal for industry to access, support and understand how we wish to improve healthcare outcomes and create jobs, by commercializing more healthcare technologies, products, services and start-ups from Ireland."
The HIH demonstrator project based in University College Cork is led by Professor John Higgins who said "The HIH team, with Dr Colman Casey as Director, had a very positive response to our first call and we look forward to working with new products and innovations under our new call. Our 'Open' call will ensure that any innovative product or project that has the potential to positively impact the healthcare sector may be supported through the HIH, however, we've also included a 'Focussed' call in infection control and hygiene management as this is an area of particular interest for the Irish healthcare environment".