40 students from all over Europe accepted the WILD Group’s invitation to the EIT Health Innovation Days Austria 2021 to work on forward-looking projects in the healthcare sector. They received insights into the latest developments and helpful feedback from mentors of leading industry partners from the WILD Group network and Europe’s largest healthcare network EIT Health.

Augmented reality (AR) glasses combined with real-time ultrasound images for surgeons to help simplify brain tumor surgery. Or AR glasses for hearing-impaired people that allow them to read the spoken word of their conversation partners directly through the glasses. The ideas presented by the students participating in this year’s EIT Health Innovation Days powered by WILD could significantly improve the health and quality of life of many people in just a few years. After all, virtual and augmented reality technologies have made incredible leaps in performance in recent years and achieved a breakthrough in many industrial sectors. At the recent virtual i-Days, around 40 participants from a wide range of disciplines discussed how they could be used in the healthcare sector.

The event was organized for the second time in a row by the WILD Group, whose Business Developer Daniel Pressl drew an all-round positive balance: “We are pleased that the students were able to push their concepts very far.” After all, prior knowledge of virtual or augmented reality was by no means a prerequisite for participation. Instead, partner companies provided insight into a wide variety of technologies and applications. “Mentors from Siemens Healthineers or Boehringer Ingelheim showed how and where they would potentially use or already use Mixed Reality (MR) in future products. With such practical examples, among other things, we gave the students plenty of tools to be able to develop their own ideas,” says Pressl.

Divided into eight teams, they worked on innovative mixed reality concepts to create better products for the healthcare systems of the future and showed how such tools could improve today’s high-tech products in the healthcare sector. The students received further constructive feedback during this year’s i-Days at Innovation Day, a partner day with the MTC (MedTech Cluster of Business Upper Austria). In addition to a virtual company tour of the WILD site in Völkermarkt, the program included state-of-the-art presentations by the MR companies NEED and Pool 3.

Winners took part in the Europe-wide Winners Event

The REHA4FUN team, which presented AR glasses and an application that enable physiotherapy at home, took first place. The four students from the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien were thus also allowed to participate in the Winners Event, the EIT Health i-days final competition, which unites all of the approximately 30 winning teams from all over Europe. The jury of experts was also convinced by the live image ultrasound solution by SurgeUP (2nd place) mentioned at the beginning, which makes tumor tissue visible in high resolution during an operation, as well as the AR solution by Speech to Me (3rd place) for hearing-impaired people, which students from Warsaw, Pisa and Bari jointly brought to the starting line.  

“It was important to us that all these ideas were implementable,” Daniel Pressl emphasizes. “That’s why the teams had to use a business model canvas and the pitch presented in the final to show what resources and partners they would need to actually bring their product successfully to market.” In the course of these preparations, the students learned, among other things, why their product needed to be unique and what steps were necessary for successful development and manufacturing. And who knows? Perhaps in just a few years, one idea or another will be manufactured in cooperation with the WILD Group and become part of many people’s everyday lives.