Siemens opens health innovation lab in South Carolina
April 4, 2019
The University of South Carolina has opened its Innovation Think Tank (ITT) Lab in downtown Columbia in collaboration with German medical technology company Siemens Healthineers.
The space will be an innovation hub where participants including researchers, faculty members and students can think outside the box to solve problems in healthcare, artificial intelligence, robotics and information technology.
The ITT Lab at South Carolina is the first such laboratory affiliated with a US university, as part of Siemens Healthineers' global network of labs led by adjunct professor Sultan Haider.
"Centres like this are so important because they bring technology and use it to create something new and do things differently," said Elizabeth Regan, chair of integrated information technology at the College of Engineering & Computing. "That involves opening your mind, moving yourself out of your comfort zone, innovative thinking and collaborating."
Computer science professor Neset Hikmet, who oversaw the lab's creation, said his vision for the lab was to host workshops with participants from diverse academic backgrounds and to provide them with mentorship and resources to solve pressing problems in healthcare and beyond.
"These are all opportunities that have participants getting out of their boundaries, meeting different people, and experiencing different cultures and ways of doing things," Hikmet said.
Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering & Computing, noted the importance of the university's growing partnership with Siemens.
"The focus of Siemens Healthineers is very much aligned with that of modern curricula, which stress design thinking in addition to coverage of the fundamentals," Haj-Hariri said. "Furthermore, the innovation process underpinning Healthineers and ITT provides a natural platform for imparting to the participants the soft skills necessary for success in the 21st century."
Dilek Akgun, director of operations at the ITT Lab, said this new facility would promote creative thinking in the future.
"The ITT Lab will allow us to bring people together from a variety of disciplines to share their unique perspectives, which will stimulate innovation and help great ideas become reality," Akgun said.
Thanks to the UofSC ITT Lab's affiliation with Siemens Healthineers' global ITT infrastructure worldwide, the participants will be able to share knowhow with other ITT members and participate at its various locations in Germany, UK, China, Turkey, India and USA. This global network will allow participants to collaborate with other innovators worldwide.
Siemens Healthineers' ITT Lab founder and director Haider, who is also now affiliated with the College of Engineering & Computing as an adjunct professor to help with the implementation of the lab, heads Siemens Healthineers' ITT global organisation from Germany. Haider noted the benefits that students would see from this partnership.
"In addition to many new learning possibilities, the UofSC ITT lab's top participants will have the potential for receiving a variety of fellowships and internships with the Siemens Healthineers ITT lab global network," Haider said.
With the opening of the ITT Lab, 20 participants from academic institutions such as South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Benedict College and the University of Florida participated in a two-day interdisciplinary innovations in healthcare workshop. There, the participants were challenged to identify a problem in the healthcare industry and then develop and present a real-world solution to that problem.
In just two days, these participants' ideas showed the possibilities of this new lab organised around innovation. Their ideas included an app for stroke detection and monitoring in real time, an implant that holds patients' medical history, and a smart pill that treats obesity.