The Helix Centre, a collaboration between Imperial's IGHI and the RCA was launched last week during a reception at the House of Lords.
The vision of the Helix Centre for Design in Healthcare is to transform healthcare using design, making the UK a global business hub for low cost and high impact innovation.
Last Thursday, centre Co-directors Professor the Lord Darzi (IGHI ) and Dr Paul Thompson (RCA) greeted guests including Lady Helen Hamlyn and Lady Estelle Wolfson and heard speeches from the Rt Hon Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health. (pictured above).
Embedded in a clinical environment in St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College NHS trust, the new HELIX Centre will focus on frugal innovation or high impact, low cost design. Encouraging a culture of innovation in the NHS, HELIX will run an extensive programme of training, workshops and seminars in innovation and entrepreneurship for healthcare staff.
The Centre will bring together clinicians, academics, technologists, engineers, and venture capitalist expertise with NHS staff to develop innovations with global application. Recognising that some of the promising technologies in healthcare are developing outside the UK, HELIX will work collaboratively with international academic and commercial partners such as Stanford University, Singapore University of Technology and Design the IDEO and TATA in India to develop ideas and create commercial opportunities for our best designs.
Frugal technology, specifically developed to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people, will be at the heart of the initiative. The Centre will use its research strengths and diverse networks to explore how design can enhance patient care including meeting the needs of an ageing population, improve clinical outcomes and prevent or mitigate against disease.
HELIX will use design to solve everyday problems in healthcare, focusing on frugal solutions which can be adopted more quickly by health systems
– Professor the Lord Darzi
Professor the Lord Darzi, co- director of HELIX and Director of IGHI said: “Innovation in healthcare can come at a high price. In the developed world it is often characterised by costly and high tech initiatives, where ideas can take a decade to deliver from concept into a clinician’s hands. HELIX will use design to solve everyday problems in healthcare, focusing on frugal solutions which can be adopted more quickly by health systems.”
Co-director and Rector of the Royal College of Art, Dr Paul Thompson added: “Transforming and improving healthcare will lead to cost-effective delivery of services. It will also cement the UK’s reputation as a global research hub for healthcare innovation. At the same time, what we are doing is laying the building blocks to engage a whole new generation of designers and design thinkers to think about healthcare in new and different ways.”
What we are doing is laying the building blocks to engage a whole new generation of designers and design thinkers to think about healthcare in new and different ways
– Dr Paul Thompson
Rector, Royal College of Art
The RCA and Imperial College London have had a strong history of collaboration. A recent collaborative healthcare project – the London ambulance redesign – won the UK Design Museum’s transport Design of the Year in 2010.
The HELIX collaboration doesn’t stop at design innovation – it will also educate the next generation of design focused leaders through the development of a Masters in Biodesign and doctoral research programmes and work with established international partners to support wider dissemination and commercialisation of products.
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