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Important connections created at Living Lab event

The Findery event arranged in KUH Kaari Hospital in early February gave rise to some welcome conversations between businesses and health care professionals. Important connections were created to the benefit of all.

The Findery event, organized by Living Lab, saw businesses and professionals make connections. 

Innovations from three businesses at different stages of product development were presented at the event. One of the firms was Kuopio’s Medikro Ltd, founded in 1977. The founder, Kuopio-born Mikko Eloranta, developed and built one of the world’s first digital spirometers in 1980, making the company a trailblazer in its field. In 1996, in association with NASA, the company built the world’s smallest digital system to measure autonomic cardiovascular function.

– We made eight of these devices altogether, some of which ended up on the Mir space station. It was a challenge, but a quite rewarding one, says Jari Piirainen, domestic sales manager for Medikro Ltd.

The company’s latest product is called Medikro Duo, a device designed to help in asthma and COPD screening.

– The Medikro Duo has been on the market for one and a half years now, and now we want to get it tested. We believe the Living Lab service can get us the customer feedback we need straight from users. Events like the Findery, where we can market our product to professionals in the field and get their feedback, are very welcome as well.

Interfacing with business

Facilitating feedback between companies and hospitals and presenting new innovations to healthcare professionals are some of the objectives Living Lab seeks to accomplish through its services. Esko Vanninen, KUH Vice President of Research and Innovation, says the Living Lab and the Findery event make it possible for the hospital organization to interface with business, and thus influence the development of products and concepts it will adopt in the future.

– Similar earlier events have been of great interest to our staff. The event is also easily accessible, in our own cafeteria in the middle of the day, says Vanninen.
On this occasion, too, interested personnel from many departments were seen milling about and having conversations running the gamut of fields. Midwives Mari Vilppunen and Emmi Pirinen said they are interested in the latest technologies and seeing its development process.

– We’d like to see a device with applications for pregnancy and childbirth care, they said.

The ALGOA PROGRESS team from the University of Eastern Finland brought out a computational modelling algorithm that may, for example, help predict the progress of osteoarthritis in a still seemingly healthy knee.

– We also try to simulate the effects of conservative and operative treatments on the progress of osteoarthritis. This information can enable the physician to predict which course of treatment is likely to yield the best results. The objective is to prevent the onset of the illness or to slow its progress, says business developer Joona Kemppainen.

The method is the result of more than 15 years of research. The work to develop a commercial application of the algorithm began in 2018 and is ongoing. The preparations are aiming at spinning off the academic research project into a business in the coming years.

– We hope to use the Living Lab service to collect experiences, opinions and ideas from doctors and other target demographics, helping us direct the development of the application. We also want the opportunity to test it out in practice, says Kemppainen.

– In addition, feedback from events like the Findery can give us an idea of what to look into and how to further develop the method and the application, says Kemppainen’s partner in the team, researcher Mikael Turunen.

The Findery is all about the customer’s needs

Whereas the university team is in the early stages of commercialisation, eLive Ecosystems Ltd from Savonlinna is at the final stages of its own product development process. Founder and CEO Mikko Saajanlehto says KUH is the closest university hospital to Savonlinna, and therefore makes for a compelling option to conduct clinical research and testing of their device.

– Our device, designed to screen for and monitor the progress of sleep apnea, is unique in that it’s designed to be used by both physicians and consumers, says Saajanlehto.

He thinks the Living Lab service offers a good opportunity to test the device in practice, and the Findery events make is possible to receive feedback and recommendations.

– Doctors and nurses are the people who best know the bottlenecks in the healthcare business, and the best to help us on our way forward.
Saajanlehto is glad eLive Ecosystems was invited to the event.

– It was absolutely worth coming. Let’s hope we can get started with practical product testing as well.

More specific instructions for starting a cooperative relationship can be found at the Business Kuopio website at www.kuopiolivinglab.fi

The Kuopio Living Lab project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the North Savo Regional Council, the City of Kuopio and the Kuopio University Hospital.

Text and photo: Maiju Korhonen