Germany – Digital Health Rheinland Ecosystem is ECHAlliance Ecosystem of the Month – June

13th June 2022

For June we are  really excited to be able to feature our Digital Health Rheinland Ecosystem as Ecosystem of the Month – our 17th ecosystem of the month. Andy Bleaden, our Communities Director, says: “The Ecosystem in Rheinland has been a consistent member of our network over the last few years and our oldest Ecosystem in Germany – a great project partner in European Projects like Shapes they have also stepped up to lead our Thematic Innovation Ecosystem on Mental Health. I think you can see that with a wide network of stakeholders targeting the  academic, clinical and industry sector, they should be seen as a go to ecosystem with close connections to their members.”. 

What is the approximate stakeholder breakdown of your ecosystem?

The HealthRegion CologneBonn (HRCB) is an industry-wide network of companies, institutions, and associations of the health sector in the Rhineland, Germany. As a regional sector network, it focuses on cooperation and communication between the individual players in the healthcare industry and on improving structural conditions.

More than 140 companies, institutions and associations across all sectors have come together within HRCB. The purpose of our association is the promotion and networking of science, research, economy, care and other areas in the cluster of medicine and health in the CologneBonn region. The aim is to contribute to the development and expansion of the region into a nationally and internationally recognized health location.

The members’ association HealthRegion CologneBonn owns a subsidiary, the HRCB Project GmbH, which implements initiatives, projects and innovations for the development and strengthening of the health economy and health care system. As a so-called third pillar and in close cooperation with the HealthRegion CologneBonn and the HRCB Projekt GmbH the gewi-Institute for healthcare studies conducts scientific projects and research activities such as surveys and regional studies.

Who are the top 3 champions from your Ecosystem?

Among our very many members and cooperation partners, it is almost impossible to select only three, but we would like to mention a few champions who are coming from different health areas:

Miltenyi Biotec B.V. & Co. KG: The biotechnological company Miltenyi Biotec has set new standards in cell separation with its MACS® technology and is one of the world market leaders in this field. The portfolio in the cellular field has been stringently expanded with highly innovative products for cell analysis and cell culture. At the molecular level, MACS® technology is complemented by intelligently designed analytical and diagnostic tools.

m.Doc GmbH: The start-up has developed a modular healthcare platform for various solutions for the healthcare market. The main product is m.Doc Smart Clinic, a patient portal that adapts to the individual wishes of the organisation. This enables health professionals (acute and rehabilitation clinics as well as other service providers) to individualise, optimise and scale their health services and communication with patients and to design them according to the needs and wishes of their patients. In addition, the further care process with service providers in various sectors can be digitally supported: e.g., for DiGA, aids, care, rehabilitation. 

University Hospital Bonn (UKB) – “Innovative Secure Medical Campus (UKB)”: The University Hospital Bonn offers a wide range of high-performance medicine. Specialists from different departments (e.g., Heart Center, Breast Center, Center for Integrative Medicine and Neurosurgical Center and many others) cooperate to achieve the best possible medical care for the hospital’s patients. Apart from this, the UKB, in cooperation with the Cyber ​​Security Cluster, receives funding of up to 17.5 million euros for the innovative digitization project “Innovative Secure Medical Campus UKB”. Using state-of-the-art technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and surgical robotics, the “Innovative Secure Medical Campus” is intended to be a pioneer for the medical campus of the future. This involves secure, comprehensive digitization solutions by which the diagnostics and treatment of patients, including robotic surgery, as well as the general processes in clinics will be optimized. You can find more information about this project here:

The rural district Oberbergischer Kreis: a rural area located eastern from Cologne in HRCB’s geographical region is implementing an ambition project funded by the German Innovation Fund and part of HRCB’s EIP on AHA reference site “good practice”. OBERBERG_FAIRsorgt is addressing the impending shortage of skilled medical and nursing staff and subsequent gaps in the provision of health and care services. It is improving communication between informal carers and health and care professionals.

What EU funding/collaboration are you involved with, or you would like to be part of?

Within its 3-pillar structure, the HRCB, together with the gewi-Institute for healthcare studies and HRCB Projekt GmbH, participates in the following EU-funded projects and collaborations:

  • SHAPES” (EU Horizon 2020): The aim of SHAPES is to create minimum standards in the care of older people and thus to facilitate healthy ageing. This goal is to be achieved by means of an EU-standardised platform offering a variety of solutions of a technical, organisational, clinical, educational, and social nature. The project is a collaboration between 36 organisations, led by the ALL (Assisting Living & Learning) Institute, University of Maynooth, Ireland. For more information, please follow this link.
  • INGE – integrate4care: The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The aim of the INGE project is to support cross-sector care for those in need of care and for those receiving informal care. The project aims at improving the overall home care situation. Against this background, INGE is developing a digital service platform that facilitates the communication and knowledge transfer between the key professions involved in the provision of care and provide information about the care situation at home. For more information, please follow this link.
  • EIP on AHA: In 2019 the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) has awarded so-called „Reference Sites “, including the HRCB, one of 102 EU-wide regional and local organisations that have set out comprehensive strategies to promote innovation and to understand and to address the challenges of an ageing population. EIP on AHA provides a framework for continuous improvement and the involvement of new relevant stakeholders so that each Reference Site can further optimise its activities. This enables the Reference Sites to constantly challenge and benchmark themselves to ensure they are at the forefront of strategy and policy development, contributing to economic growth in their region and across Europe. 
  • Coral EU Health Regions (CORAL): Since 2018, HRCB has been a member of the European CORAL network, a European network of different regions that cooperate in the areas of AAL (ambient assisted living) and healthy ageing. The aim is to put regional perspectives on the agenda of the European Commission and to network regionally. The members of CORAL collaborate on project proposals and other initiatives concerning health ageing.
  • Thematic Innovation Ecosystem Mental Health: In cooperation with the ECHAlliance, Health Region CologneBonn is organising one of the recently founded Thematic Innovation Ecosystems (TIE) since 2021. As part of the TIE on Mental Health, three online workshops have been organised so far: the kick-off event on “Isolation”, was held in July 2021 followed by an event on “Adolescent mental health” in September 2021 and a workshop “Addressing substance misuse” in January 2022. Experts from national health ecosystems in Germany, England, Finland, Canada, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Scotland came together, exchanged views on the needs of those affected and presented interesting and sustainable innovations from the field of support services. Another focus of the Mental Health TIE is on learning about digital solutions.

We are always interested in project ideas and collaborations on the topics of active and healthy ageing, mental health, digital health, and integrated care – feel free to contact us!

What are the key priorities and themes for your ecosystem?

Since our members come from various sectors of the health industry, we deal with many different topics, such as:

  • Active and Healthy ageing
  • Digital Health, data exchange (European Health Data Space)
  • Mental Health
  • Occupational Health Management and health promotion
  • Strengthening the regional health economy
  • Improving the structures of health care provision and enabling integrated care 
  • Medical technology
  • Nursing care
  • Climate and health

What is your primary strength as an ecosystem?

HRCB provides a platform linking academic, clinical and industry stakeholders under one ecosystem. Members of the association can exchange ideas at various meeting formats (fireside chats, workshops, lectures, etc.) and to implement joint projects in specialised working groups (care, digital health, occupational health management, etc.). Through our network we can offer the following advantages:

  • Cross-sector contacts on site – more than 140 member associations
  • New impulses from other sectors
  • Finding experts, business partners and service providers more quickly
  • Competitive advantage through integration of existing competence and experience
  • Participation in working groups and networking events
Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart‘s introductory address to the members of the HealthRegion CologneBonn / Digital Health Ecosystem Rheinland during the 2021 HRCB-Fireside Chat. The event took place on 23 August 2021 at the premises of our member Miltenyi Biotech, the topic: “The locational advantage of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) – fast & effective from (biomedical) research to roll-out”.
  • Exchange of knowledge
  • Implementing innovations with new partners
The innovation fund project OBERBERG_FAIRsorgt, in which HRCB Projekt GmbH is a consortium partner, won the Telemedicine Award 2022 at the National Telemedicine Congress.  F.l.t.r: Dr. Alexia Zurkuhlen, Nathalie Wiegel, Dr. Nesrin Wilke, Dr. Jessica Möltgen.
Visit of the robot Kompaï in the SHAPES – pilot- region Oberbergischer Kreis. Kompaï can take on various tasks, such as night watch, entertaining residents, and disinfecting rooms, and is thus intended to relieve nursing staff and family caregivers.

Who are your clinical champions either hospitals, clinicians, specialities?

Among our members are the following clinics, which enjoy a great reputation and are among the best in Germany:

Uniklinik Bonn

Kliniken der Stadt Köln

Uniklinik Köln

Klinikum Leverkusen (Gastroenterology)

ATOS MediaPark Klinik Köln (Orthopedics)

Klinikum Oberberg 

Sana DFK Cologne and Sana Hürth

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