Dublin 8 will be home to a new health innovation district

10 Mar 2021

From left: Orla Veale of Smart D8 and Mary Day of St James’s Hospital. Image: Shane O'Neill/Coalesce

Smart D8 is a new initiative calling for pilot projects that will focus on mental health, population health and the impact of Covid-19.

A new initiative aims to transform the health and wellbeing of citizens in the Dublin 8 area through innovation and collaboration.

Smart D8 was launched today (10 March) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, and is led by The Digital Hub, St James’s Hospital, Dublin City Council and Smart Dublin.

The initiative will set out to investigate how new and innovative approaches can be used to improve citizens’ health and wellbeing in Dublin 8. It brings together local authorities, academia, healthcare, local community and industry in a partnership model to address real world issues.

The initiative will also create a health innovation district in the area, which aims to provide a focal point for innovators working to develop product, service or technology solutions.

‘Dublin 8 is in a prime position to become the Silicon Valley of healthcare in Ireland’

Smart D8 conducted research in advance of the launch to understand the current health and wellbeing needs in Dublin 8 and the findings have been used to form the foundation of the project.

Initial health and wellbeing themes identified in consultation with the community include mental health, the impact of Covid-19, population health, environment and positive and healthy ageing.

The research found that 31pc of the Dublin 8 community had a long-standing health problem, 27pc had accessed mental health supports in the last two years, and 21pc had unmet health needs due to waiting lists.

Almost 70pc of residents also advised that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted their health and wellbeing negatively.

‘One-of-a-kind project’

The first call for pilot projects is being launched today and will focus on mental health, population health and Covid-19 impact.

One project already underway is the Healthy Ageing for a New Digital Society (HANDS) project that is using smart technology to support the care of vulnerable and elderly Dublin 8 residents living in social housing accommodation.

The project aims to allow residents to remain in their homes for longer by improving services and quality of life. It is a collaboration between the HSE, Dublin City Council, Smart Dublin, ESB, Maynooth University and technology partners Tata Consultancy.

Mary Day, CEO of St James’s Hospital, said the formation of Smart D8 is an opportunity to transform the health and wellbeing of the Dublin 8 community.

“Dublin 8 is in a prime position to become the Silicon Valley of healthcare in Ireland and we are excited to see how this new collaborative ecosystem can help deliver on this potential,” she said.

Fiach Mac Conghail, CEO of The Digital Hub, added that Smart D8 is a “one-of-a-kind project” that will allow local residents to see tangible benefits from the projects through health and wellbeing innovation.

“The partners to this project bring a range of expertise in healthcare delivery, entrepreneurship and community engagement that combined will prove to be a powerful force,” he said.

The other partners within Smart D8 are the Guinness Enterprise Centre, HSE Digital Transformation, Tyndall National Institute, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Trinity Research & Innovation, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, National College of Art & Design, and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

There will be additional calls for pilot projects throughout the initiative based on the needs of the community. The results of the pilots are expected to act as a template for health and wellbeing management in the rest of the country.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic