The European Commission has awarded €55.2 million to projects which use digital health and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to contribute to the fight against COVID-19.
Within the next 24 months, 13 selected projects will deliver solutions to protect healthcare workers, quickly detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19, improve intensive care, and foster the uptake of innovative tools and technologies developed by small companies.
Among the solutions are the Essence empathic platform to monitor vulnerable populations, the VASCOVID portable platform for assessment of microvascular health in COVID-19 patients and the INNO4COV-19 innovation hub to support COVID-19 diagnostic, prevention and surveillance technologies.
The project consortia consisting of 133 organisations from 25 countries, will work to deliver the first prototypes in the coming six to 12 months.
A further 10 projects have received funding to work on the rapid repurposing of manufacturing for vital medical supplies and equipment, the behavioural, social and economic impacts of outbreak responses, the pan-European COVID-19 cohorts, and the collaboration of existing EU and international cohorts.
The total €128 million funding for all 23 projects is part of the Commission’s €1.4 billion pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative, which launched in May.
WHY IT MATTERS
The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic emphasised the need for high-quality data, digital technologies, and AI analytics tools to mitigate the severe health threat and economic impact.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The funding follows an emergency call from the Commission for innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to COVID-19, under the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020.
Another digital health project to receive funding under Horizon 2020 this year was Israeli-based mental health startup Taliaz, which was granted €2.3 million to support the development of its mental health management platform PREDICTIX.
Medical startup NanoVation was also awarded a €2.5 million grant to develop its SenseGuard respiratory monitoring device, while digital health coaching firm Liva Healthcare secured €603,405 to research treatments for mothers at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
ON THE RECORD
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, said: “This research is essential to better address various aspects of this and future pandemics, allowing us to increase our capacity to react more quickly to prevent contagion, improve diagnosis and treatment, and take better mitigation measures that take into account behavioural, social and economic aspects, including gender-related issues.”
Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market, added: “Digital technologies are essential in our response to this sudden and severe health threat. Awarding financial support to these excellent projects which have digital tools and AI at the heart of their innovative approaches will deliver new solutions to protect healthcare workers, quickly detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and improve intensive care – all to contribute to our joint fight against this pandemic.”