VTT makes new investments in digital health– building excellence in the Kuopio region

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A patient and doctor are examining the readouts from a smartwatch and a smartphone.

VTT is launching new research activities in the area of digital health as part of the growing wellbeing and health technology ecosystem in Kuopio. The new initiative aims to create state-of-the-art research based especially on the utilisation of health data, generate new digital health innovations and establish global health technology business in Finland and the Kuopio region.

Health technology is already a strong growth and export sector in Finland, but new technologies based on health data have enormous potential for commercialisation. In Kuopio, the universities of the area, the strong role of the business community and the active involvement of the city have created an ecosystem that VTT will strengthen in the future, especially with its expertise in data analytics and digital solutions. As part of the ecosystem, VTT strives to improve the business conditions of the region's health technology companies and to increasingly direct industry expertise from research to product development.

Digital tools to support decision-making and guide the use of health care resources

The growing cost pressures on health care create a need for new technology-based solutions, including in preventive health care, early diagnosis, and choosing the care path that provides the best benefit. These will be some of the focus areas in Kuopio.

"Finland's unique health data compiled in national registers enables the development of data-based solutions to solve global and public health challenges. However, utilising the data in health care decision-making requires determined work to develop new digital tools, and VTT will be investing heavily in this going forward", comments VTT's President & CEO Antti Vasara.

VTT's long-standing and multidisciplinary experience in, for example, mining big health data and developing machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions will further strengthen the Kuopio Health ecosystem and improve the international competitiveness of the region's companies.

"For example, there is an acute need for the early diagnosis of brain disorders, such as progressive memory disease and depression, and for improving the efficiency of care paths, which we will be better able to address in the coming years through tools that combine extensive health data", says Research Professor Markus Forsberg from VTT's Kuopio office.

Kuopio as a catalyst in health data projects

VTT has a long history of working in the area of digital health in Espoo, Tampere, Oulu and Kuopio. There have been operations in Kuopio since 2005. In the future, the office will focus especially on research and innovation projects utilising extensive health data.

DigiTerveSavo 1 was launched in Kuopio in December 2019 as the first new digital health cooperation project, with funding from the Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo amounting to EUR 761,000. The project will develop a concept for data-driven tools to support early diagnosis and choice of care path that can be used to enhance the use of health care resources and to promote citizens' health. In addition, VTT is participating in improving the usability of health data in the Kuopio region together with other operators.

A cooperation seminar focusing on digital health organised today by VTT and the City of Kuopio will be attended by Chair of the Social Affairs and Health Committee, Member of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen, VTT's President & CEO Antti Vasara, Mayor of Kuopio Jarmo Pirhonen as well as other top experts in the field to discuss the opportunities in the industry and region.

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