Edition 2021

Edition 2019/2020 :

Nice launch day for the Fit4Health Innovation Paris program at IUIS.

With this innovative and unprecedented program in France, the University Institute of Engineering in Health responds to the challenges of innovative research and training. This year, two challenges: Autonomy of the elderly; Rehabilitation of patients with respiratory failure.

Fit4Health Innovation : Workshops and courses so interesting around need-led methodology and clinical immersion. A productive week with Erfan Soliman (University of Oxford) and Andreas Lundquist (Karolinska Institutet). Many thanks to them and to the #eithealth Innovation Fellowship Network.

Innovation Fellowship Program, 1st time in Paris

Two multidisciplinary teams of “fellows” followed the entrepreneurial hospital immersion programme for 9 months, from October 2019 to June 2020, supported by EIT Health and launched for the first time in Paris, led by Sorbonne University. This innovation path focuses on real needs that if unmet prevent to build real solutions. Needs-based innovation is more likely to reach commercial maturity and ultimately help patients.

Dr Christine Boutet-Rixe, Executive Director of the IUIS Sorbonne University and Djamel Bouhadjer, Program Manager give in a cross interview the ins and outs of this ambitious program. They tell, step by step, how the 6 fellows selected for FIT4Health have organized their journey.

Dr Christine Boutet-Rixe, Executive Director of IUIS Sorbonne University answered to some of our questions:

1.Why did the IUIS of Sorbonne University choose to develop this program in Paris?

“Through the IUIS (Institut Universitaire d’Ingénierie en Santé) Sorbonne University (SU) has been involved for several years in EIT Health’s Campus programmes. The discovery of the Innovation Fellowship program in 2018 encouraged us to implement this innovation methodology in France, particularly in the very rich context of Sorbonne University and the AP-HP (Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris). Technological innovation in healthcare must respond to expressed clinical needs and we wish to create a dynamic between carers, patients, caregivers and engineers. It seemed natural that such a programme should be “incubated” at IUIS-SU and implemented in the clinical hospital departments of APHP.SU, particularly at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris.  The opportunity offered by the expertise of the international EIT Health Innovation fellowship network to accompany us in the development and implementation of the programme in Paris was a motivating factor. This collaborative “mentoring” took place upstream but also throughout the programme. Special thanks to colleagues from University of Oxford, RiSe Stockolm, Biocat Barcelona, KTH and NUI Galway, who greatly facilitated this first year of Fit4health in Paris!”

2.Why the choice of the Pitié Salpetrière – Charles Foix Hospital? How is the reception in the hospital centres organised, what services, what people are involved?

“Pr. Thomas Similowski, respirologist and Pr. Jacques BODDAERT, geriatrician, both very involved in engineering research for the benefit of their patients but also the care teams of their respective departments, were instantly involved. Pr Jesus GONZALEZ, Dr Valérie ATTALI and Judith COHEN-BITTAN took the fellows under their wings and gave them an ideal immersion in the hospital departments concerned. They fully support the challenge addressed by FIT4Health “Need Pull” versus “Technology Push.”


Djamel Bouhadjer, Program Manager answered to our questions:

1.If you had to present the Innovation Fellowship Program in Europe in one sentence?

“This is an entrepreneurial hospital immersion program for multidisciplinary engineers and doctors with the aim of developing technological solutions that are as close as possible to clinical needs and uses.“

2. Explain the objectives of the FIT4Health program and which partners are involved?

“Fit4Health aims to address medical and clinical needs through technology (hence the T of Technology). It is a MedTech/e-Health program. In 9 months, the challenges are taken to observe the life of a hospital department, to meet patients, caregivers, staff involved in care. The Need-Led innovation methodology developed within the EIT Health network and inspired by the Stanford BioDesign allows to systematize the approach with an imposed rhythm in three steps: “Identify; Invent; Implement”. The identification phase is the key stage of the programme. It allows the fellows to have a holistic vision of the medical environment, but also to map all unmet clinical needs. It is a first deliverable for medical team members, whether it is a detailed analysis of the needs they or their patients express. On the basis of this identification, 3 strong needs are selected, based on 8 objective criteria ranging from market potential to technical feasibility, through competitive analysis and target population. The selection of a need to be addressed by a technological solution is collegial and multidisciplinary.”

3.How many students are involved, where do they come from? How did you build the teams?

“We formed 2 multidisciplinary teams of 3 fellows. They are either engineers in biomedical, computer science or biology, or student doctors, or business development engineers. We also want to attract designers, pharmacists, Clinical Research Associates…. The priority is team spirit, creativity and a taste for innovation in the service of medicine. Important element: Fellows do not know each other before the start of the program. Fit4Health is therefore also an intense team-building experience.”

4.Could you describe the highlights of the past 9 months?

“The introductory bootcamp was very rich. We wanted it to be quite long (11 days). With the help of a coach/psychologist, we developed team dynamics. With European managers programs and former fellows from Oxford and Stockolm programs, the fellows learned the Need-Led Innovation methodology and benefited from enriching feedback. Finally, a patient-expert organised a day on the patient approach. This was one of the highlights of the first months of Fit4Health.

An important step was the integration of the teams of fellows into the hospital services. The fellows were able to integrate themselves into hospital departments without disrupting their functioning, but with an added value well felt by the carers. Finally, we were afraid that the lockdown linked to the Covid-19 crisis could have jeopardized the programme given the distance of the fellows from the hospital grounds. But thanks to their creativity and pugnacity, the Fellows continued to develop their technological solutions while maintaining a remote link with the field. Congratulations to them for that!”

5. And where are the projects today and what are the future steps?

“To date, 2 innovation projects have emerged. These two projects are in the prototyping and startup creation phase. Fit4health is the beginning of an entrepreneurial adventure. Exchanges are already established with the technology transfer unit of Sorbonne University. The fellows intend to pursue their projects, in particular by accessing the EIT Health accelerator Bootcamps for which they are currently applying. The medical teams, particularly the professors (clinical mentors) are in this dynamic and will accompany the implementation phase of the solutions in their respective departments.”

6. Are you planning another session in 2021?

“FIT4Health will continue its development in 2021, with a new challenge: access to care. 2 focus areas have been identified: maternal and neonatal health on the one hand and hospital emergencies on the other. New partners are joining the movement: AP-HP, professors with expertise in the targeted areas and the Sanofi Espoir Foundation.”