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Intel injects life into digital health

$30m research hub for Ireland

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Intel is partnering with Irish universities to set up a digital health research centre that will investigate the challenges of independent living for the elderly.

The Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) Centre is supported by IDA Ireland, and will involve collaboration with University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and NUI Galway.

The centre will work on solutions aimed at improving social health and community engagement, detecting and preventing falls in the home, and how to help those with memory loss retain their independence.

"The TRIL Centre is about building and accelerating research collaborations to test these independent living technologies with elders in Ireland and throughout Europe," said Eric Dishman, general manager of Intel's Health Research and Innovation Group.

Intel and IDA Ireland are set to invest $30m in the centre over a three-year period, and the project is expected to create between 50 and 100 research jobs.

Because it will be spread over four different locations, the research centre will be hubbed at Intel's headquarters in Leixlip and will act as a virtual research centre between the four sites.

Speaking at the launch of the centre, Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment Micheal Martin said the centre would be of "outstanding strategic value" to the country.

"The research to be carried out in this area will involve significant skills development and knowledge acquisition," he said. "Ireland has an active, high-quality research sector in the healthcare domain, including bio-engineering and bio-informatics. The TRIL centre will build on this and position Ireland as a centre of excellence for this type of research in Europe."

The TRIL centre is part of Intel's wider approach to digital health, an area that's been identified by Intel as strategic for the future. The chip maker has also recently formed the Health Research and Innovation Europe (HRIe) team, based at the Leixlip headquarters.

Intel has long been involved in research in the US into ageing, and has been investigating the social and cultural differences of the ageing demographics of Europe. In the year 2000, there were 606 millon people worldwide aged over 60; by 2050 this figure is expected to grow to 1.9 billion - a growing market for the chip giant.

"We have to invent a new way to care for our planet's aging population. Current healthcare systems are not equipped to face the epidemic of age-related illnesses and injuries that are coming," said Dishman.

"Information and communication technologies offer us a means to prevent disease and injury, to detect problems earlier before they become catastrophes, to help older people better manage their own health conditions at home, and to personalise care to their unique needs and preferences. All of us will benefit from these kinds of technologies, first as caregivers for our own aging parents and, if we're lucky, for ourselves some day."

Copyright © 2007, ENN

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