Innovations in Lung Health and Wellbeing happening in Wales

3rd February 2022

Innovations happening in Wales through collaborations across the globe in advanced physical and digital engineering and clinical research and evaluations

Project Strategy and Updates

Strategy

Our strategy in 2022  is to continue to diversify the portfolio by collaborating on building new technologies as well as continuing to develop the R&D pipeline, consultancy and evaluation sectors of the business.

In particular, we have expanded our involvement in edge technologies, and these projects are now taking shape from both a delivery and funding perspective. 

Networks and Collaborations

International Collaborations

UK Pavilion, Expo 2020

At the request of Welsh Government, RIW is taking part in the next World Expo and Arab Health in Dubai from 21 Jan – 30 Jan 2022. 

The UK’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai will consist of a self-build country pavilion and an accompanying events and content programme. Our participation theme is ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’ and RIW have been asked to support AI and Digital at the event.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is leading the UK’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, with support from the GREAT Britain Campaign and five other co-funding government departments.

Arab Health 2022

With technology and innovation taking center stage, Arab Health, the leading medical equipment exhibition in the Middle East, will present an exceeding range of healthcare products and services showcased by more than 3,500 exhibitors from across the world, this January at The Dubai World Trade Centre.

Arab Health 2022 will bring together more than 56,000 healthcare professionals eager to learn, network and trade, and will feature a wide range of CME accredited conferences.

Moreover, attendees looking to discover and source new products and connect with suppliers can login online to pre-plan their meetings and meet in-person in Dubai.

Regional Collaborations

CEIC, SBR4 Cohort

The Circular Economy Innovation Communities (CEIC) project builds on concepts proved within two Welsh Government funded predecessor projects, Open Innovation Communities of Practice (OICoP) and Developing Innovation Performance of Firms and Supply Chain Clusters (DIPFSCC).

Pioneered by Ellen MacArthur, the circular economy encompasses a new way of thinking. More ‘traditional’ views of the economy are more linear in thinking, where products are bought, used, and then thrown away. Put simply, the circular economy is a system in which resources such as materials and equipment are used, reused and repurposed as effectively as possible, and for as long as possible.

In our case, we want the public sector in the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay regions to work effectively together to rethink how their resources are managed, shared in new, and existing projects and services so that they can maximise the financial, environmental and social benefits within the organisation.

As part of a regional consortium, RIW will participate in the CEIC Innovating Towards Net Zero cohort of the Circular Economy Innovation Communities (CEIC) program to design solutions for service delivery on the theme of SMART, Net Zero and intelligent dwellings designed to support the health and wellbeing of the dweller.

Affiliate, Primary Care and Care Home Networks

We continue to develop our clinical affiliates, primary care and care homes network. This work is being led by Helen Hughes and, in collaboration with organisations like Yma, RIW is targeting 10% of the general practice population to have signed into the RIW network by 31st March 2021 with a similar sized care homes network.

Yma is a not-for-profit social enterprise, existing to create conditions where primary care in Wales thrives now and for future generations. The viability and future shape of our health and social care system is being tackled by many different organisations and agencies in Wales.

The lens through which Yma undertake our work, advocating from grassroots, being open to all possibilities without being tethered to the status quo (even rejecting it where needed) and actively seeking alternative ways for the system to exist, makes Yma unique in Wales and fits the direction for RIW moving forwards.

Artificial intelligence

ARIA: ARIA will be a unique data capture tool and repository ecosystem designed to stream IOT voice data into a platform that drives innovative new paradigms of care. Voice data represents an exciting new data set that has the potential to impact on clinical, economic and research activity both with and outside of Wales.

The ARIA warehouse will be designed to allow for research and technology development to be conducted in an ethical, secure and safe environment. We are seeking support and funding from GSK to work with us to further develop this work. An overview of the programme can be watched here: ARIA – Voice pattern recognition – Respiratory Innovation Wales (riwales.com).

Respiratory Innovation Wales will continue within its regular engagement work  with local patient groups and respiratory clinicians to canvas their opinions on the project and their views on the usefulness of the of the intended outputs. We will feedback to the user groups as the project develops. We will publish our findings in the clinical press, discuss our findings at research conferences and seek industrial collaborative partners in the development and commercialisation of any AI technology that is developed by this funding.

Our pilot work has shown voice analysis is feasible but, accelerated by the Covid pandemic, we have had to develop new methods of remote voice capture and analysis and are seeking further funding to support this work.

Partners on this project include:

  • Cwm Taf Morgannwg University health Board
  • Hywel Dda University Health board
  • Welsh Institute of Digital Innovation
  • CarefulAI Ltd
  • University of South Wales
  • University of Wales Trinity St Davids

A funding bid of £180, 000 – 220, 000 has been proposed to GSK to support this project.

GENAIZ: Working with DIT Wales and Canada, we have commenced work with GENAIZ on a project called Innovation Waste. Finding the right information quickly from huge volumes of data is critical to support business decisions. However, most data is unstructured, and a manual review of the vast amounts of unstructured data requires a lot of human labour and can be costly. Using conventional keyword search and manually scanning is no longer a practical option for the surmounting data. It also does not allow for insights into solving problems or analyzing information.

Since most data is unstructured, an AI (Artificial Intelligence)-driven software platform, like GENAIZ, is the solution. This project has now been pitched to GENESIS 2021 for funding.

Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering

ORIEL 3D- 3D Printing UK Registry

Oriel 3D  is the new working title for the IXN software project developed by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and University College London.  The project identified a gap in the UK healthcare market for a 3D printable designs and anatomical models.

The pandemic highlighted that the 3D printing community was keen to support healthcare however it lacked governance and a knowledge of the requirements of healthcare.  A trustable source of images and designs was needed that would enable NHS organisations to download with confidence.  Use of 3D printed parts within the NHS is subject to local risk assessment and product design file creation under MDR(2002). 

The website hosted by RIW allows NHS organisations and Academic Institutes to share 3D printable designs with associated risk assessments and product development files. This method of sharing places the responsibility for using the 3D designs on the organisation downloading and placing into use.  This also allows NHS organisation to explore innovation in safe and collaborative manner.  The website allows organisation to comment on designs or upload modifications to designs. 

Analysis of the 3D models that were being developed and shared using conventional hobbyist 3D printing websites showed that the vast majority of medical innovation was respiratory related alluding to respiratory innovation having the most benefit from current 3D printing.

The relative low running costs of this type of website presents a low risk to the hosting organisation and has potential to be re-hosted by another organisation if needed.  The 3D printing industry is very immature in healthcare and presents sponsorship opportunities for organisations looking to increase market share.  We are discussing with medical device companies the benefits of supporting their supply chain with the use of 3D printable spare parts. 

Currently the principles of the website are based on free access to 3D printable designs that could benefit healthcare.  However, there must be acknowledged that time and effort, even IP could be invested in these designs by the uploading organisation, this leads to a further expansion opportunity of the website to enable design work to be monetised for the organisation and create commissioning cost income for RIW. Also, it is  important to recognise the benefits of having innovation concentrated into one resource that allows RIW more efficient access to innovative ideas and trends within the NHS.

Mobile Respiratory Lab

Health Boards in Wales are experiencing backlogs for respiratory diagnostic testing and interventional treatments due to the pandemic limiting the ability to perform AGP tests. Current operating procedures to protect the patients and staff are adding in considerable delays to the patient flow.

The use of mobile testing clinics that can assure the clinicians that the patients are covid free will enable health boards to tackle this backlog away from the hospitals and more convenient locations for patients.  Reduction of the footfall within acute hospital sites is essential at present to limit the impact of new more transmissible variants of covid. 

Mobile units come in various layout formats, for the purpose of this exercise we are proposing the use of a 3 clinical bays unit. The collaboration between health boards is looking at alternative weeks at various locations within each health board geographic remit.  The use model proposed is a 4 plus 1 model where research activities are available one day a week.

Funding is being secured from Welsh Government (£0.24 – £0.3 million over 6 months) in the first instance and is anticipated from a Bevan Commission application in March for sustainability.  Initial discussions with the health boards were based on health boards paying for the siting of the vehicle and providing their own staff that would have presented a cost neutral solution for RIW and allowed for on-costs incurred by RIW being provided by the health boards.

Clinical Studies and Evaluations

OncaCare

ICON established Oncacare in July 2020 to strategically develop a global high performing oncology research site network.  Oncacare works with sites to increase operational efficiency, decrease cycle times and enhance delivery in terms of enrolment, data management, quality and retention.

Improved site performance is accomplished through appropriate trial placement at interested and capable sites, capacity building, enhanced recruitment initiatives, centralised support services and provision of site-based resources. 

The OncaCare site network is actively engaged with 125 sites in 16 countries within Europe and the USA.  In Q3 2021, Icon and PRA Health Sciences (both focused on operational excellence, technology and innovation, people development and customer delivery) merged resulting in a world leading healthcare intelligence and clinical CRO, offering an enhanced service to biopharma and medical device companies. Collectively, they have unrivalled international pharma client base and clinical trials pipeline which is accessible to Oncacare.

Initial discussions have established that OncaCare wish to collaborate with Respiratory Innovation Wales (RIW) in several areas:

(i)    Establishment of a lung oncology network in Wales within secondary and primary care with potential for expansion into care homes and hospices and to expand to rest of UK.    

(ii)    Establish a mobile clinical trials service in Wales – taking the trial to the patient.

(iii)    Explore IT solutions to better identify (and retain) clinical trials subjects 

RIW is well placed to enter a potentially fruitful collaboration with Oncacare at this time:

(i)    It has an existing network of respiratory clinicians and through its affiliate clinician programme will expand this network to oncologists and other clinicians to complement lung oncology trials. 

(ii)    Through RIW collaboration with YMA and GP cluster leads, RIW GP network will be expanded for the identification of clinical trial subjects and co-delivery of clinical trials.

(iii)    With ever increasing demands within the NHS, RIW will explore private hospitals as locations for efficient clinical trial delivery (e.g. Spire Cardiff, Nuffield Cardiff and Vale, Santa Maria, St.  Josephs, Rutherford Cancer Centre).

(vi)    Furthermore, Other CROs Panthera and Future Meds are interested in collaborating with RIW in respiratory clinical trials.  Much of the RIW/Oncacare model, network and IT solutions could be transposed for these business opportunities.   

Discover more about Respiratory Innovation Wales:

Our vision is to be a world leading gateway for respiratory innovation. Our mission is to collaborate to innovate with academic, public sector and industry partners to improve wellbeing, health and wealth of Wales

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