The Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) is focused on business led research in the area of connected health. Based in Ulster University the centre’s unique business and research collaborative approach aligns care needs with technology providers, researchers and clinical experience and is leading the way in transformational research for Connected Health.

CHIC targets research in areas such as e-Health, digital health, tele-health, tele-monitoring, disease management, and home based care. The centre’s academic leadership is provided by Ulster University’s Professor Jim McLaughlin and Professor Chris Nugent who bring significant expertise from their own academic disciplines. The key focuses for the research are Vital Signs Sensing Development, Integrated Care, Assisted Living, Point of Care Diagnostics and Healthcare Analytics.

It is the first of Northern Ireland’s competence centres attracting £5M funding from Invest Northern Ireland for collaborative business led research, with an industry led programme committee providing the direction for all work.

Its membership is made up of over 25 companies covering a broad spectrum of Northern Ireland’s health and technology sectors. Member companies such as Randox, TotalMobile, Lava Group, Ciga Healthcare, Explorisitcs, Data Analytics Labs and Leckey come from a mixture of areas providing a diversity to the connected health research projects. As the companies are both initiator and contributor, the research has a stronger link to emerging market needs. Strong links have developed with the local health service, supported by a memorandum of understanding to encourage joint working for mutual benefit.

Some notable achievements:

  • A research project is in the final 5 of a $10m global competition for Qualcomm xprize tricorder
  • MOU with Australian University on diabetes
  • Ongoing work with Alzheimer’s UK and Engage With Age
  • Smart Cities Project with Belfast City Council for Health Inequalities
  • A health tech workshop with Boston/Belfast and Nashville this year
  • £1m Heart Failure project with Cardiology Network of Northern Ireland.

A core team of researchers from computing and medical engineering provide an agile method of starting and delivering research in partnership with 3+ companies. Researchers from outside the core researcher group within Ulster University and Queen’s University can be utilised in line with the needs of the businesses. Each project must have a commercial direction and support from the businesses who have initiated the project.

While the focus has been on building strong business led research, the companies have also benefited from developing their network and being introduced to potential collaborators, suppliers and customers. The sense of sharing of collective knowledge and challenge between the businesses and academics has been a very positive aspect of the various research projects as they iterate, change and develop to meet emerging needs or opportunities.