As part of the EU project ILDA-care, a delegation of Danish entrepreneurs has visited the STERN BioRegion. ILDA-care stands for “Intelligent Logistics, Digitalisation and Automated Workflows for the Homecare and Nursing homes sector” and is an initiative to systematically improve efficiency in this field. The participants from Denmark gained exceptional insights into innovative solutions from Baden-Württemberg for the care sector.
A major challenge for societies in industrialised nations is the rapidly growing number of older people and those in need of care. According to a forecast by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, the number of people in Germany requiring care could rise to 3.4 million by 2030. To improve assistance for them at nursing facilities or in their own homes, solutions need to be found that allow care staff to focus on personal support for people instead of using up their scarce resources on time-consuming formal work processes. ILDA-care has been given a total budget of just under EUR 210,000 by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to face this challenge. Numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the STERN BioRegion and Denmark and a number of research institutes are involved in the research project.
The EU project aims to form a new value chain that links together intelligent logistics, digitalisation and automation for the care sector. The Danish Welfare Tech cluster from Odense and Stuttgart-based BioRegio STERN Management GmbH are collaborating for ILDA-care. As part of this strategic international partnership, entrepreneurs from the STERN BioRegion visited the cluster in Denmark in June and learned about the exemplary Danish healthcare system. In October, their peers from Scandinavia travelled to Baden-Württemberg to find out about innovative care solutions in Tübingen, Reutlingen, Göppingen and Stuttgart.
The first port of call was the LebensPhasenHaus (LPH) in Tübingen, where the participants were welcomed by Thorsten Flink, Managing Director of the City of Tübingen’s WIT General Business Development Unit. The LPH is a joint research, demonstration and knowledge transfer project whose organisers include the University and the University Hospital of Tübingen and is open to everyone. Here, the entrepreneurs from Denmark weren’t just able to see age-appropriate assistance systems, digital information and communication technologies with easy-to-use control interfaces and intelligent networking of systems in action. They also had the opportunity to observe how equipment and services are tested, evaluated and made accessible for visitors.
In Reutlingen, the programme of events included a visit to the BruderhausDiakonie Gustav-Werner-Stift retirement centre. Following a welcome by Alexander Kreher, City of Reutlingen mayor with responsibility for finance and economic affairs, the delegation was able to inspect innovative technologies for care at the centre. BruderhausDiakonie works closely with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, which has implemented ambient assisted living (AAL) and smart home systems into a number of BruderhausDiakonie buildings. Among other things, the Danish delegation was given a demonstration of the Safe@home warning system, which automatically alerts helpers in the event of a fall or accident. Sensors fitted in the room can detect any unusually fast change in a person’s centre of gravity if they fall, and trigger an alarm via a CareBox.
Computer games that are specially designed for senior citizens are used in daycare to encourage residents to perform mental arithmetic or play skill-based games. As the system uses a sensor to detect the seated players’ movements, their memory and motor skills are developed simultaneously, without any use of a mouse or keyboard. The enthusiasm shown by the elderly people also impressed Lars M. Jessen, CEO of a Danish IT company that develops software solutions for the in- and out-patient care sector. For him, it was a “real light bulb moment” to see how computer games are integrated into everyday care. “Companies, institutions and local authorities work together here successfully as partners to develop and implement innovations.”
The visit to the Göppingen campus at Esslingen University was another revealing experience for the guests. Alexander Fromm from the Göppingen District Business Development Unit welcomed the delegation to the Care Lab (CarLa), which has been set up as part of the applied medical technology research project. This offers a realistic environment that enables the development and testing of technical solutions for the care of the elderly.
The programme also featured visits to the microelectronics transfer centre TZM GmbH in Göppingen and Fraunhofer IPA, as well as presentations by several companies from the STERN BioRegion that are involved with technical innovations in the care sector. In the workshop that followed, the entrepreneurs and researchers used these practical examples and the lively discussions to develop a number of concrete ideas on care at home. “The two ILDA-care delegation trips impressed all the participants, generated new contacts and initiated actual cooperation projects,” said BioRegio STERN project manager Dr. Margot Jehle. “We can already speak of a new bridge for healthcare technology between Germany and Denmark.”