The Medical Technology Innovation Platform (ITEMAS) is one of the Thematic Platforms for Cooperative Research promoted by the Carlos III Health Institute as a key component in its multidimensional vision of innovation within its area of interest. ITEMAS aims to promote innovation in medical technology as an essential tool in making the Spanish National Health System more sustainable. It also supports the development of the culture of innovation necessary to facilitate integration of all the relevant agents in the field of medical technology. The core of the ITEMAS comprises the innovation units of 29 large hospitals belonging to the Spanish National Health System, in addition to the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality and the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC)
A comparison of Spanish exports and imports of medical technology clearly shows a negative trade balance; even though knowledge levels in the biomedical sector in Spain are sound (approximately 3% of total worldwide publications). However, in terms of market value, we have barely capitalized on the knowledge generated.
Transfer of knowledge between research institutions and industry is deficient, for several complex reasons. Consequently, the return on public investment in R&D is poor.
Therefore, at the initiative of the Carlos III Health Institute, the year 2010 saw the creation of the Medical Technology Innovation Network (ITEMAS Network), whose function is to promote innovation in those areas of the biomedical sector not associated with the pharmaceutical industry. Since 2014, the network has been known as the ITEMAS Platform.
To establish a forum for communication between the various agents in the innovation process (hospitals, academia, and industry) by creating tools that provide a real-time picture of medical technological innovation and foster strategic contacts and alliances.
Working within a framework of technological innovation, ITEMAS aims to facilitate the transmission of medical-scientific knowledge so that it can create efficiency and value for the healthcare system and for society at large.
The results expected for the members of the Platform are associated with the support provided for the creation and organization of innovation units in the Platform’s centers. The mission of these units is to facilitate technology transfer and innovation processes through explicit definition of relevant workflows, implementation of measures aimed at detecting innovation, and promotion of appropriate training. These units have a series of additional missions, as follows:
- To identify potential partners who can play a key role in the process, for example, consultancy companies, end technology-users, research groups, and technology development centers that can contribute to evaluation or prototyping processes.
- To share resources and experience, while identifying synergies at local and national level.
- To define evaluation criteria so that the development of the process can be monitored and to enable the Carlos III Health Institute to evaluate the results obtained.
External results include those that are useful for the other agents involved in the process, such as Government bodies and private companies. The most important results are as follows:
- Collaboration with the different institutions whose missions include coordination of medical innovation processes, thus bringing our specific knowledge to the sector we are involved in.
- Increase in the number of participants in the Platform (medical and non-medical centers) in order to create the necessary climate of communication and partnership.
- Study of the legal framework regulating technology transfer at national level and in the Autonomous Communities in order to ensure that the actions undertaken fulfill all legal requirements in force. It may even be possible to help direct new developments in legislation to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Development of an information model to provide computer support to a database of key agents. This support will be constantly updated and available in real time.