Persbericht -

Experienced health innovation experts ponder framework to be implemented for technological innovations in healthcare in new, independent 'think lab' at Living Tomorrow

"Ideas and technologies abound. Now develop overarching vision to use them"

How can we access our health data through apps without risking data privacy? How can we use robotics (safely and ethically) for our healthcare? Or monitor/treat patients remotely safely and efficiently? A new 'think lab' around the future of our healthcare with among others the ex-CEO of Janssen Pharmaceutica, CEO Medtronic Benelux and several university professors - wants to find the answers to this. "In the next three years we want to develop a framework and also test this in practice in a Smart Health Lab in the new Living Tomorrow building," explains health-innovation expert and think lab chairman Rudy Mattheus. How can we make the person more central, personalized and with attention to the quality of life, are a few examples he gives.

The corona pandemic has made the need for accelerated technological innovation and digitalization in healthcare clearer than ever. It has shown us the benefits of mRNA development, remote patient monitoring, mobile clinics, contact-tracing apps, digital registration modules, teleconsultation, and personal protection... innovations that increase the quality, efficiency, and safety of care. It is therefore the time to keep surfing this wave of innovation.

Living Tomorrow therefore wants to contribute to the future of healthcare by bundling knowledge and expertise in a neutral way and translating it into reality. "Our country has a great number of technical possibilities and knowledge in the field of innovative healthcare and medical validations, but it is not always easy to use them," explains Mattheus. "Often there are ethical, legal, economic, political... obstacles to overcome, and a holistic approach is crucial. It is no easy task for innovative start-ups to find their way in this, validate it and scale it up. As a result, it often takes a very long time before a new idea can be implemented, and the enormous potential of many innovations thus remains underutilized. This is not only detrimental to master crisis situations, such as a pandemic, but also to arm ourselves against (health) challenges caused by overpopulation, an aging population, higher health costs, increased mental pressure, more and new chronic diseases...", with little attention to prevention and empowerment.


Precisely for this reason, several experienced heavyweights from the medical world are engaging to help with this in the new think lab "Smart Health of the Future". Former CEO of Janssen Pharmaceutica Belgium, Dr. Stef Heylen, is one of them. As are Prof Johan Decruyenaere (UZ Gent), Prof and CEO Health House Bart De Moor (KU Leuven) and Prof and CEO MedTech Flanders Pascal Verdonck (UGent).

"With this, we are bringing together a wealth of medical and technological experience from different socio-economic angles of healthcare. This way we can look with a broad, overarching view at innovations in the field of smart health, such as AI-controlled monitoring machines, tissue printing, drone care, ambulatory rehabilitation supported by robotics and 3D interaction, health apps... and the ethical challenges we have to take into account to make all this work safely and with the expected result, according to scientific insights," indicates Rudy Mattheus. "With these insights, we are also going to work very concretely. Because in addition to the think lab, in collaboration with Living Tomorrow's own innovation expertise cell TomorrowLab we are also organizing 'vision groups' that go deeper into sub-themes, 'working groups' in which we invite innovators and start-ups to think along practically, and 'expert groups' in which we test our ideas with an even larger group of experts and patients from the field. We don't want to get stuck in theory, but want to put our vision into practice so that its feasibility can be effectively tested."

Smart Health Lab in Living Tomorrow

This testing will take place in a real 'Smart Health Lab' that will occupy two floors of the new Living Tomorrow building in Vilvoorde. This campus will open its doors at the end of next year. "This is the perfect environment to literally show our vision, visualize different scenarios and work out concrete test cases," says Joachim De Vos, CEO of Living Tomorrow and professor of Digitalization and Future of Healthcare at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences UGent. "We can bring together different innovative partners here to work further on our first ideas and experiments in order to arrive at the best version of the innovations." "A dream will not become an innovation if there is no realization" indicates Prof Decruyenaere.

In this way, De Vos hopes to be a neutral catalyst for technological innovation in tomorrow's healthcare. "By working with a broad, experienced, and multidisciplinary team to create a framework, bring innovative companies and start-ups together to think along with us and to pour all this into concrete test cases, I am convinced that we can accelerate innovation and, above all, its proper adoption. This is necessary if we want to remain pioneers in our country in the fast-moving landscape of 'smart health and care'", concludes Joachim De Vos.

About the think lab 'Smart Health of the Future'

The think lab consists of heavyweights from the medical sector who together want to use their experience and knowledge to give the smart health care of the future every opportunity. Using smart technologies, services and models correctly has a fourfold goal for healthcare that the think lab and Living Tomorrow, in its known neutral way, wishes to help build: the best patient experience, public health, financial viability and maximum wellbeing for healthcare teams today and in an even smarter future.


- Rudy Mattheus: member of the Board of Directors of UZA, e- Health Venture, MediMundi, Flanders' Care, AZ Jan Portaels, Microsoft Innovation Center, Niko Group, Voka Health Community, residential & care center Salvator and the center for resilience Curam Domi.

- Stef Heylen: ex-CEO of Janssen Pharmaceutica Belgium and member of the Board of Directors of UZA, AZ Turnhout and the virus-fighting start-up ExeVir

- Johan Decruyenaere: Prof. UGent and internist-intensivist UZ Gent, chairman Fund for Innovation UZ Gent, chairman permanent committee "digital medicine" of the Royal Academy of Medicine

- Bart De Moor: Prof. Dr. Electrical Engineering KU Leuven, Chairman Health House and Ringleader of the Flemish AI program

- Pascal Verdonck: Prof Biomedical Engineering & Medical Technology UGent, CEO Medtech Flanders, Vice President of the Belgian Association of Hospital Directors, member of governing bodies of hospitals.

- Karin Scheerlinck: CEO Surgi-Tec and Chairman Board MedTech Flanders

- Henk Westendorp: CEO Benelux Medtronic

- Jan Anciaux: Physiotherapist, Chairman of the Board WZC De Overbron, former Chairman of OCMW Vilvoorde

- Joachim De Vos: Prof. Digitalisation and the Future of Healthcare at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences UGent and CEO Living Tomorrow and its innovation unit TomorrowLab

- Frank Beliën: founder of Living Tomorrow and TomorrowLab

Living Tomorrow is een maatschappelijk demonstratie- en innovatieproject dat organisaties en mensen wil voorbereiden op, en informeren over de toekomst. Dit gebeurt door onderzoek & ontwikkeling ondersteuning aan tientallen overheidsinstellingen en bedrijven onder de vorm van open innovatie, visie en strategiebegeleiding, piloot- en experimentuitbouw. Door de jarenlange ervaring van en intensieve begeleiding door Living Tomorrow in samenwerking met haar spinoff TomorrowLab kunnen toekomstscenario’s uitmonden in demonstraties en voorstellen van nieuwe concepten.

Living Tomorrow biedt samen met haar partners een toekomst- en innovatiebelevenis aan duizenden bezoekers. Zij krijgen deskundige uitleg en Living Tomorrow en haar partners ontvangen waardevolle feedback. Deze kan vervolgens worden meegenomen in verder toekomstonderzoek. Daarnaast worden bezoekers ook geïnformeerd over de toekomst, innovatie, technologie, sociale media, internet, ...

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Kaat Vanrenterghem

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