Digitalization in the healthcare sector with GAIA-X

Digitalization in the healthcare sector with GAIA-X

AI is revolutionising work processes wherever you look. The healthcare sector is also affected. Dirk Schrödter talks about the emerging AI-Med ecosystem and the revolutionary AI-powered robotic systems that are transforming the way we understand medical care. Learn how artificial intelligence is driving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.

Why was the AI strategy for Schlewsig-Holstein launched in 2019 recently updated?

With its own AI strategy, in 2019 the state of Schleswig-Holstein became a pioneer in Germany. We are receiving a great deal of attention, both nationally and internationally, for how we implement this regionally and how we have developed a clear profile. But we all know: The field is developing at breakneck speed, and we are keeping pace in Schleswig-Holstein. With strategy version 2.0, we are placing even greater emphasis on the applications of AI in areas where the North has clear competitive advantages. These core areas include

  • the healthcare industry
  • the field of renewable energies and
  • the blue economy.

This should result in growth, value creation and jobs for our state. In total, we are providing more than 45 million euros in implementing the strategy, with further EU funding on top.

Why is the North predestined to develop an AI ecosystem in the healthcare industry?

In Schleswig-Holstein, we already have close links between business, science and government. There is a very active and creative AI scene and the paths to government are short. We have also created good conditions in the competition for attracting the best minds to the region. We are currently filling 12 new AI professorships at universities – the North has developed appeal. The Life Science Nord cluster is an extremely important partner. This strong cluster is something like the DNA or the breeding ground on which we can build an AI-Med ecosystem.

What makes the greater Lübeck area such an outstanding location for the AI medtech ecosystem?

In the Lübeck area, a truly unique network has emerged for the application of AI technologies in medical technology and the healthcare industry. It is shining so brightly, that it is already having an impact far beyond the state’s borders. Here, we have initiated more intensive cooperation between research institutions and the private sector, creating very important added value for the state. We need ecosystems of this kind with many players who cross-fertilize each other and create competitive advantages for our region. We are supporting this with 4 million euros.

What role does the public-private consortium KI-SIGS play here?

The KI-SIGS consortium, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, brings together the most important players from medicine, the healthcare industry and AI in northern Germany and embodies the goals of our AI strategy in the best possible way: High-tech, networked, and agile – and close to clinical application. Over the past few years, a very successful network has been built up, despite the tough COVID years – that’s really impressive. We want to keep this momentum going and spread the reach of the network even more broadly in the future. This includes bringing on board other German states such as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

How do you plan to embed the AI-Med ecosystem into the GAIA-X European data infrastructure?

The GAIA-X-Med initiative is seeing the creation of a networked data platform to process medical data securely, in a standardized way, and efficiently. We are also investing 4 million euros in this project. GAIA-X-Med is a very important building block in our regional AI-Med ecosystem. Linking this with GAIA-X technologies is forward-looking, as it simultaneously allows us to support the European Cloud Initiative and participate in its further development, while at the same time also creating digital sovereignty.

The strong Life Science Nord Cluster is the DNA, or the breeding ground, of the AI-Med ecosystem.

Dirk Schrödter
Minister of Digitalization of Schlesweig-Holstein

You are funding several projects on AI-supported robotic systems in surgery. What potential do you see here?

AI-assisted robotic systems in surgery open up a huge field of application. It’s not just about improving healthcare. We can achieve technological leaps that enable us to become a technology exporter. In surgical robotics, we are entering an innovation gap that can bring us additional value creation. This attracts skilled workers, creates new jobs, and has many other self-reinforcing effects.

Concerning data availability: How do you intend to achieve improvements here?

The question of data availability is absolutely central to the implementation of our AI strategy. We can no longer let health data lie unused in data silos. In recent months, we have developed the cornerstones of a state data strategy through which we want to decisively improve data provision and data availability. It is set to be adopted at the end of 2023. Data provision will become the norm here. In parallel, we are also working on the technical requirements for making data available to SMEs in a machine-readable form. We need a culture of data sharing and data use in Germany, and we want to become a digital showcase region.

Interview: Philipp Graf

Featured image: © State Chancellery of Schleswig-Holstein

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