The European Health Tech Innovation Center (EHTIC), which is being established at the Silesian University of Technology, is a state-of-the-art centre which, in cooperation with leading medical universities, world leaders in technology and with the support of local authorities, will conduct research and implementation activities to improve disease prevention, diagnostics and treatment. The EHTIC is going to be open this autumn.
EHTIC is the result of the Assist Med Sport Silesia – Silesian Centre for Engineering Support in Medicine and Sport project co-financed by the European Union under the Regional Operational Programme 2014 – 2020.
A new centre of the Silesian University of Technology is being built in Zabrze. Professor Arkadiusz Mężyk recalled that the buildings-sites of the faculties located in this city were donated years ago by its authorities. “President Małgorzata Mańka-Szulik has created an excellent ecosystem in Zabrze for the development of science, innovation and everything related to health care” rector said.
The Rector of the Silesian University of Technology referred to the good cooperation between the University, the city and regional authorities, as well as business partners, as the genesis of the Centre’s establishment. “At the moment, we are finishing the investment process of the building which will house the European Health Tech Innovation Center. I think that this building is a symbol of good cooperation. The Centre itself originates from the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, which was set up by a consortium for joint action on health-enhancing technologies. A unique place is being created in Zabrze at the moment. Centres and institutions engaged in science for health care are located here. The Silesian University of Technology cooperates with them. How important is the organisation of the health care process, how important tools can be provided by science in a very short time, if the process is well organised, was shown during the pandemic. In our new Centre, we want to implement such a process” said the rector of the Silesian University of Technology, prof. dr hab. inż. Arkadiusz Mężyk.
One of the partners of the Silesian University of Technology is the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice. As the rector of the university, Prof. Tomasz Szczepański, said: “I am twice as happy. As a resident of Zabrze, I could admire the transformation of this area. I am glad that something is being created here, which is constantly developing and serves the Silesian University of Technology, the city, but also the Medical University of Silesia. My second reason to be happy is the progress in bioengineering sciences, which is one of the conditions for progress in medicine. Cooperation between doctors and engineers is a great value. It has been going on for many years and has produced very good, positive results for patients. We are glad that there will be a lot of both scientific and bioengineering ideas in the new Centre. We are counting on good cooperation, because the best results come from interdisciplinary research, at the interface of different disciplines.
The President of Zabrze, Małgorzata Mańka-Szulik, emphasised both the good cooperation of the city with academic centres and the transformation which Zabrze has undergone in recent years, transforming from a city of heavy industry into a centre of science and modern technologies: “This is another page in the history of our city. I am very grateful to our scientists. This facility is to serve not only Zabrze and our Silesian community, but also the international scientific community. I am glad that young people will be able to spread their wings here. My sincere congratulations!”
The aim of the newly established Centre is to create a unique team of highly specialised research and technology laboratories to support companies implementing medical devices and technologies. This is in line with current health issues answering the challenges of modern medicine in the area of ageing society and personalised medicine. EHTIC is a unit that provides opportunities for international cooperation and participation in European and global technology platforms. EHTIC has established laboratories such as Laboratory of computer vision and virtual reality, Laboratory of surgical planning, Laboratory of rapid prototyping, Laboratory of implant structure research, Laboratory of engineering support in dentistry, Laboratory of human locomotor system research.
The tasks of the Centre shall include in particular:
- integration and initiation of interdisciplinary research teams in the area of health technologies,
- development and implementation of modern technologies and medical products, organisation of training and courses
- development of research infrastructure
- organisation of conferences, seminars, workshops, thematic meetings,
- acquiring funds from domestic and foreign sources for research and training activities,
- establishing cooperation with other scientific entities and enterprises, both national and foreign, in order to carry out joint research projects,
- generation of know-how and intellectual property,
- promotion of the research offer of the Silesian University of Technology in the area of health technologies.
The main objective of EHTIC is to organise the cooperation of actors in the field of health technologies, creating, developing and implementing innovative medical technologies to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
„The activities at the Centre will include both training and support for small and medium-sized enterprises in the area of technology development and implementation. But above all we will focus on research in areas such as bioinformatics, biomechatronics, biomaterials and biomedical signal processing. This Centre will be very unique on the European map because of its potential, both in terms of research capabilities and the intellectual capital of the people who today represent the biomedical engineering discipline at the Silesian University of Technology. The Centre will be equipped with the most modern apparatus available on the world market. This will allow us to develop our research potential in such technologies as virtual health technologies, the use of artificial intelligence in diagnostics and expert systems supporting doctors in their decisions. It is also 3D printing, technologies related to supporting rehabilitation, sports training. This will be the state-of-the-art equipment, which places the Silesian University of Technology among the best equipped laboratories and research centres in our country” said professor Marek Gzik, Director of the European Health Tech Innovation Center EHTIC.
The Centre is being established at the premises of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering of the Silesian University of Technology. “This is a result of consistent activities of the Silesian University of Technology in the development of biomedical engineering. The employees of the University develop in various areas of this discipline, also within the University’s Priority Research Areas. Of course, one of our primary goals is also education. We educate personnel that will be able to use the already acquired knowledge in practice in health centres, medical institutions or development centres” added Prof. Zbigniew Paszenda, Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering of the Silesian University of Technology.
Alina Nowak, councillor of the Silesian Voivodeship Assembly said: “It should be emphasised how well the cooperation between the local government, business and science works. It is within the framework of this project that we have managed to realise it. I am impressed by this place, this investment, which is being realised in a short time, despite the difficult time of the pandemic. I think that soon we will all be enjoying the opening of this place.”
Information about the EHTIC building
The construction of a new laboratory building has been designed and carried out along with a comprehensive arrangement of the site within the investment. Fragments of the existing access roads were reconstructed and the existing car park was removed. Around the designed building, a new system of pavements and parking spaces as well as the widening of an internal road section were carried out. In place of the existing asphalt-covered car park, an entrance square was designed, which is an extension of the representative internal space of the ground floor of the building. Parking spaces, high vegetation and a new traffic system are foreseen.
EHTIC Building Characteristics
- gross covered area 1 289,84 m2
- total surface 3 823,21 m2
- usable surface 3 285,22 m2
- cubic capacity brutto 20 700,0 m3
- number of floors 3
A new laboratory was also presented at the meeting: MedShield with a system for individual patient isolation and protection of medical staff against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
„In Poland around 6 000 angioplasty procedures are carried out for acute myocardial infarction every month. According to estimates, around 30% of hospitalised patients are suspected of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The procedures are performed by highly specialised medical staff, whose protection in the current situation should be one of the priorities for maintaining the functioning of the health care system in our country. In Poland, there are 150 centres with cardiac haemodynamics laboratories in which there is an urgent need to implement a system of mutual patient-doctor protection against biological infection. The system of individual patient isolation and medical staff protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection is intended to protect both medical staff and patients during interventional cardiology procedures or routine diagnostic procedures such as X-ray, ECG, ultrasound, Echocardiography, etc.” said prof. Marek Gzik.
As part of the project, a system has been developed to isolate the patient’s upper respiratory tracts and to filter and eliminate sources of infection from the exhaled air. The system is designed to be as unobstructive as possible during medical procedures, while allowing air to circulate in the operating theatre in a closed loop. The device cleans and filters the air exhaled by the patient and kills pathogenic microorganisms and other pathogens carried in it. The cleaned and sterilised air is then returned to the room.