Flex-MED was a contest organised within the project flex+ aiming at innovative ideas that leverage possibilities of flexible electronics in health care.
The project flex+ was coordinated by the Fraunhofer Society, Fraunhofer FEP and Fraunhofer IAP, in collaboration with industrial partners. The flex+ consortium aims to foster flexible electronics in Germany and to transfer novel concepts into applications.
With the question “Healthier thanks to flexible electronics - how can this technology revolutionize healthcare?” a contest was launched in June 2016 and the participants (from experts to laypeople, individuals and companies alike) had until July 2016 to submit their ideas.
"flex" stands for flexible electronics. Flexible electronics can be bended and integrated onto various surfaces no matter how they are formed. "MED" stands for healthcare/medicine, the area where flexible electronics can soon play a crucial role.
The competition combined both areas in applications, products and concepts. The most valuable ideas were those contributing to well-being, recovery and cure of patients. These could be also applications that measure certain health parameters, support the elderly in their daily routine or help kids to learn new skills. In short: they were looking for ideas that combine “human needs” with flexible electronics. The selection of innovative ideas can be found on https://www.flex-plus.de/Group/flex-MED.Ideenbuch, free registration required.
flex+ Open Innovation was a project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Science. Initiating and accompanying this good practice takes staff expenses of about 50 TEUR per year (0,5 FTE) and external services of about 10 TEUR, in particular for counseling vouchers as awards.
Evidence of success
A total of 72 ideas were submitted, which were compiled and published in form of a book (downloadable from the website). In two workshops hosted in Dresden and Munich around 40 experts developed 6 specific applications. After those workshops the participants continued working on project outlines that constituted the basis for finished products.
A two-day innovation forum will be held in October 2018 to discuss about new trends and challenges of flexible electronics in medical technology.
Main challenge encountered was generating sufficient acceptance for this rather new approach to introducing innovation into healthcare. The startup landscape in the region is not as established compared to other hot spots in Germany.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Idea Competition Flex-MED can be easily implemented in other regions or countries. This project brings together players from industry and science and promotes the creation of a common basis for innovative ideas, products, services and business models. Especially SMEs profit from meeting strong partners at the workshops, where they have the opportunity to overcome the boundaries of their field and develop innovative activities together.
Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.