Digital Innovation Hubs in Healthcare Robotics, DIH-HERO for short, is an independent platform for healthcare robotics with the purpose of supporting companies in the healthcare sector.
As a Horizon 2020 project, DIH-HERO is funded and initiated by the EU with the purpose of supporting companies in the health sector in using the opportunities of digitization, strengthening exchange and know-how and establishing cross-regional cooperation. The goals of the network are a closer exchange between science and business, with a special focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), faster market introduction of innovative products and mutual support of the networking partners.
17 consortium partners from 11 European countries are involved. One of these partners is the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics with its MIRO Innovation Lab. The projects SMiLE (service robotics for people in life situations with restrictions) and VVITA (Validation Virtual Therapy Arm) also contribute to the skills and contacts of the network. In addition to the DLR, the Fraunhofer IPA and the University Hospital Aachen also participate as German core partners. The project is coordinated by the Dutch University of Twente.
Funded by the European Union with an amount of 16 Mio EUR the network has made a total of 8 Mio EUR available, which should be distributed to SMEs in three calls. With the first call, travel vouchers to various information and network meetings of up to 2,000 euros were given. In another call for technology demonstrator companies are supported with 100,000 euros each to demonstrate the feasibility of innovative robotics technologies. The third call, with a grant of 200,000 euros each to 20 projects, supports the technology transfer of developments. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new, additional and spontaneous call was launched in April 2020, which supports quickly adapted solutions from non-healthcare areas. A total of 10 projects are funded for 8 weeks bedween June and August with 100,000 EUR each.
And DIH-HERO offers more than grants. An entire service catalog is currently being created, with which partners from the healthcare robotics sector can both support and be supported. Whoever wants to be a partner becomes a partner, provided that they operate in the broad field of healthcare robotics. Together, the DIH-HERO partners network their skills and offer each other knowledge transfer, cooperation and advice.
After four years, on December 31 2022 the EU funding will expire and DIH-HERO will then no longer be a Horizon 2020 project, but will stand on its own two feet as an independent network with a sustainable business concept.