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National hub to accelerate robotics growth

With a new model to accelerate R&D and research translation, a platform in Beijing sets the stage for the medical robotics industry.

The 2019 World Robotics Congress showcased eight representative medical robotics companies from Beijing, selected by IMC.Credit: Beijing Medical Robotics Industry Innovation Center

From assisting in diagnosis and surgery, to making rounds and facilitating rehabilitation, medical robots are expected to play an increasing role in health care. Yet, their lengthy development cycle may hinder innovations. To facilitate collaborative innovation on medical robotics technology, a privately operated platform, Beijing Medical Robotics Industry Innovation Center (IMC) was established in 2017 under government guidance.

The first of its kind in China, IMC has founding partners including China’s leading robotics company, TINAVI, the university-backed Beijing Tsinghua Industrial R&D Institute, and the Beijing municipal government. Harnessing the joint forces of domestic and international universities, research institutions, hospitals, industrial associations and funders, it provides policy guidance, technical resources, and capital investments to support research projects on medical robotics, and commercialization of their results.

Promoting collaboration

IMC teamCredit: Beijing Medical Robotics Industry Innovation Center

One of IMC’s priorities has been integrating needs of different collaborators. In the development of medical robotics, clinicians demand better products, research institutions expect to translate their results into products, and project teams from enterprises need technology and policy support to improve their products. IMC comes in as an open platform, bridging all these partners and promoting better resource sharing to accelerate research commercialization.

An example is its open data platform on surgical robot application, built together with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Based on the cloud-based management system, it collects data from health-care organizations and medical supply companies to explore shared technologies and solutions to robotic development obstacles, offering one-stop services for the surgical robot industry.

This is in line with IMC’s mission, which is to focus on national needs, integrate industry forces, and leverage domestic market advantages to better serve the industry. IMC advises on major R&D projects, key product development, and formulation of industry standards, and is undertaking multiple national research projects. It helps innovation teams grasp policy trends, make market projections, identify potential risks, and obtain approval, facilitating all the key procedures in transforming research results to products.

Driving growth

IMC interiorsCredit: Beijing Medical Robotics Industry Innovation Center

For many R&D teams, despite the presence of clear technical guidelines, turning ideas to products is still challenging. IMC brings in experts who can impart their experiences to guide R&D. It has built extensive partnerships with global science and technology innovation teams specialising in fields ranging from clinical medicine to materials science and engineering. Multiple joint laboratories have been established to explore technologies for human-computer integration, artificial intelligence, and novel hardware and software for surgical robots.

To date, IMC has hosted more than 10 project teams worldwide, whose products cover robots for a variety of medical services. It is destined to be an efficient platform driving technological innovation on medical robotics.

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