DIZH: Innovation through exchange and networking
The Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions UZH, ZHAW, ZHdK and PHZH intensifies the exchange with practice and the public. To this end, DIZH is funding four innovation structures with a total of 16 million Swiss francs. The ZHAW is involved in all structures and leads two of them. In the interview, ZHAW experts explain what benefits these will bring in the future.
DIZH is creating innovation structures for sustainable cooperations between the Higher Education Institutions of the Canton of Zurich and companies and partners from practice. The new organisational forms enable exchange, reaction to current needs and are intended to provide impetus for innovation. The ZHAW leads the two structures in the areas Autonomous Systems and Clinical Innovation.
At the Dübendorf Innovation Park, a place is being created where experts from science and industry will shape the future of autonomous systems and educate society about civilian applications in this field. The autonomous systems, such as independently navigating drones, will be researched in an interdisciplinary manner. “Shared Large-scale Infrastructure for the Development and Safe Testing of Autonomous Systems” (LINA) forms the operational basis of a real and virtual infrastructure for research, development and safe testing of autonomous systems in an internationally unique test setup in the canton of Zurich. All stakeholders around the airspace and airfield of Zurich-Dübendorf are closely involved in the development of the test arenas.
We are offering an infrastructure for testing autonomous systems for the robotics hotspot Zurich. All development stages of the systems are considered. Research and development therefore take place at the same place, which is unique in Europe.
What benefits should LINA bring to society?
LINA is intended to contribute to the social acceptance of autonomous systems in society. Examples for autonomous systems are drones, service robots, vehicles or air cabs (Urban Air Mobility). In addition, our goal is also to attract future engineers to digital technologies in mobility and to promote innovation. In this way, LINA can further increase the attractiveness of the Canton of Zurich as a business location.
The “Zurich Applied Digital Health Center” researches digital health solutions in the hospital context and implements them efficiently and with practical relevance. For example, the so-called “Patient Reported Outcome Measures” (PROM), which provide information on the state of health of patients and the effects of treatments from their perspective, are being investigated. So far, there is no platform in Switzerland that enables the transfer of PROM research into clinical practice. The centre brings together experts from clinics, research, development and industry and integrates the currently still individually operating institutions into a common structure. This will establish a digital ecosystem in the healthcare sector and position Zurich as a “Smart Health City”.
Kurt Stockinger, together with the University of Zurich you are creating the Zurich Applied Digital Health Center. How did the idea of founding this center come about?
We evaluated where we could use digitization to close a gap in transnational clinical research. Among other things, we asked ourselves where there is currently the greatest need for action to improve clinical processes. “Patient Reported Outcome Measures" are ideally suited as an innovative and interdisciplinary field of action.
Can you give us a few examples of the topics that will be in focus in the future? Where is a need for research and action?
In our view, an important area of application is for instance cancer research. Here, patients should be able to measure their state of health via wearables and forward the data securely to doctors and hospitals, so that the latter can make fact-based decisions or give recommendations for action. Important research questions in this area include secure data processing while taking data protection and privacy into account.