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Smart and inspiring: Medical innovation made in Leipzig

Internationally renowned top-class research and state-of-the-art training, a history going back centuries and contemporary innovation – Leipzig sets standards as a medical industry hub. Where once the second oldest medical school in Germany was founded, today a remarkable variety of institutions continues this history. And while a steady stream of new findings make their way from here around the globe, respected figures often invite international experts to Leipzig to share information and ideas.

Image above: Spinnerei, Spinlab © Philipp Kirschner

Founded in 2005 at Leipzig University’s Faculty of Medicine, ICCAS (the Innovation Center Computer Assisted Surgery) is now one of Germany’s most important research centres for biomedical engineering. Tight links between medicine, engineering and information technology have spawned innovations such as the intelligent operating theatre, in which medical devices from different manufacturers communicate with each other and which facilitates predicting the individual steps of a medical procedure. The ICCAS success story also includes the clinical information system “oncoflow”, one of the first systems for the interdisciplinary planning of tumour treatments between oncologists, radiologists and surgeons. Current projects involve AI-assisted treatment decision models, 5G in emergency medicine, medical robotics and MR-guided interventions.

Image on right side: Demo sugery © ICCAS

Fit for practice thanks to state-of-the-art simulation

Phacon GmbH is a successful ICCAS spin-off that prepares budding medical professionals for work in practice. The company uses 3D printing to reproduce bone parts, devising highly realistic medical training systems. Be it ultrasound or opening a skull – at the LernKlinik Leipzig, the focus is also on preparing students as well as possible for medical practice. With around 300 simulators, phantoms and devices, the LernKlinik Leipzig is currently one of the most modern simulation centres in Europe.

LernKlinik Leipzig © Universität Leipzig; Photograper Christian Hüller

Strong infrastructure for medical innovations

Leipzig offers the perfect environment for such groundbreaking developments, as the region is one of the most dynamic life sciences clusters in Germany. The area’s strength lies above all in the speed at which it can translate innovations from biotechnology, biomedicine, medical engineering and bioinformatics and bring them to market. One crucial aspect here is the internationally recognised basic research at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and the German Biomass Research Centre. Companies working in biotechnology, medical engineering, the pharmaceutical industry and bioinformatics all benefit from the close networks that Leipzig offers them. For example, the Life Science Campus allows a wide variety of institutions to all work virtually side by side, including Leipzig University’s Faculties of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, the Centre for Biotechnology and Biomedicine, the biotech and biomedical incubator BIO CITY LEIPZIG, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology.

Breeding ground for new ideas

This fertile environment also benefits start-ups that use new ideas to drive developments forward and establish themselves beyond Leipzig. DIPAT, for example, the first online living will from Leipzig, is now available to people all over Germany. The start-up mementor is one of the first providers of digital medical products in the field of sleep medicine and has developed a scientifically based, digital solution for the treatment of sleep disorders via smartphone – including official approval as a “prescription app”.

Therapie App © eCovery

As a “pocket physiotherapist”, the Leipzig start-up eCovery has created a medically based training app offering new possibilities for physical rehabilitation after joint injuries and diseases. To this end, it has carefully combined innovative sensor technology, a digital application and sound medical expertise.

Image in background: Benedict Rehbein, Marcus Rehwald and Alexander Georgi, founder eCovery © Florian Pappert

Conferences and congresses as an important source of inspiration

Image above: Congress Center Leipzig © Philipp Kirschner

How this can look in practice was recently presented by eCovery as part of the congress programme at the world’s leading trade show, OTWorld. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the relationship between therapists and patients, the topic of digital rehabilitation services is more relevant than ever. Due to the pandemic, OTWorld was also held completely online for the first time. In normal times, the congress would have traditionally welcomed many thousands of participants and trade visitors at the Congress Center Leipzig (CCL). As the leading international meeting place for the industry, the congress fair is all about modern medical aid supply. Experts from all over the world use it as a springboard for innovation and dialogue.

Image on left side: OTWorld2018 © Tom Schulze

As the largest conference venue in the city, the CCL hosts important medical congresses in numerous specialist fields year after year, offering space for new ideas, professional exchange and joint further training. One major example is the Leipzig Interventional Course LINC. The multidisciplinary congress in Leipzig has developed into a global platform for vascular medicine and is also seen in the congress industry as a model for the implementation of megatrends such as digitalisation and novel room concepts. In addition, medical societies bring their annual conferences to Leipzig every year and thus contribute further to raising the destination’s profile as an innovative centre of medicine.