Skip to main content

COVID eXponential Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COVID-X (COVID eXponential Programme)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2021-10-31

The world is now facing the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the number of cases and deaths has been rising, with Europe being one of the most affected areas. Although EU/EEA countries managed to fully vaccinate around 68% of its population (ECDC data as of 22-Dec-2021), the health risk remains high and continues to affect all EU countries and pressuring the healthcare system. In addition, there is still very little information about the economic and social impact the pandemic will have in the short-, medium- and long-term.
Although this crisis knows no borders, causing similar challenges to both first and third countries across the world, Europe must stand out as a union and face this threat jointly.
The project COVID-X brings together eHealth solution providers - with emphasis on startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) -, and healthcare professional systems. On one hand, solution providers are developing innovative eHealth solutions, using approaches such as artificial intelligence and big data, but struggle to reach a market often dominated by very large companies supplying off-the-shelf systems for healthcare. On the other hand, healthcare providers have been collecting immense sets of data while diagnosing and treating patients. COVID-X supports collaboration of these two communities, aiming to validate innovative solutions in real-world clinical scenarios in Europe to support diagnosis, treatment and recovery of COVID-19 patients.
COVID-X delivers an accelerator programme for technical SMEs to work together with healthcare providers to develop these innovative solutions and bring them to market. The COVID-X Programme includes clinical, technological and business services. COVID-X has launched two contests, attracting 190 applications, and selected 29 technologies to undertake through the COVID-X Programme, investing a total of EUR 4 million in high impact SMEs.
The project has a duration of two years, having started on 1-Nov-2020. During the first year, the project has focussed on developing the infrastructure and selecting the SMEs to support.
The COVID-X Programme is a full capacity building programme to enhance the capacities of SMEs from technical and business perspectives. In this first year of the project, we have built the complete programme, setting-up technology training courses, developing a mentoring scheme and a process to support SMEs in deploying and validating their solutions. The Programme has a duration of 10 months, starting with a one-month onboarding phase, followed by three sprints of three months each. In each sprint, the SMEs have technical and business goals to achieve, progressing their solutions into the market. The project realised two open calls, i.e. contests, selecting 29 SMEs, which will go over the Programme in two batches. The COVID-X Programme 1 started in May 2021 and will end in January 2022, supporting 15 solutions. This first batch of SMEs is finalising their product validation and developing a five-year sustainability plan to complete their journey. The COVID-X Programme 2 includes 14 solutions and is starting the first three-month sprint in January 2022.
COVID-X has developed an innovative platform, the Sandbox, with Artificial Intelligence technology capabilities and data-driven services. The Sandbox aims to support seamless access to anonymised health data and stream data from connected services and solutions. The Sandbox provides core data services to SMEs, such as integration, harmonisation, filtering, cataloguing, storage querying, retrieval, security and visualisation. The project has also developed a unified model to represent COVID relevant health data. This enables to harmonise, annotate and index data easing the data access and retrieval. The 15 SMEs involved in the COVID-X Programme 1 are already using the Sandbox.
The project has developed a reference guide regarding legal and ethical issues related to personal data privacy, security and regulations, to govern the activities to be carried out in COVID-X (by the partners, SMEs and healthcare providers). This framework includes strategies and techniques to ensure accountability, minimisation and ethical aspects, always safeguarding patients’ rights. The project has developed a data security protocol, including anonymisation guidelines, mandatory for all solutions in the COVID-X Programme. The project partners are supporting the SMEs in implementing and complying with all legal and ethical aspects and regulations.
The project has also performed a wider analysis of potential obstacles hindering a faster market uptake of these innovative solutions. The objective is to understand why it is so challenging for these SMEs to reach the market in the healthcare domain and how this can be improved. We have provided a set of recommendations to health authorities and policy makers, hoping to contribute to a more open market and level the field between SMEs and large companies.
The project expects to streamline the uptake of next-generation technologies in clinical environments to prevent and optimise treatment of COVID-19, By accelerating the technical and market competitiveness of tens of European health technologies/solutions, there is the potential to benefit hundreds of millions of citizens all over the world. The COVID-X Programme is supporting solutions expected to provide clear benefits in improving e.g. diagnosis accuracy and speed, clinical response, recovery time, and prognosis of hospitalised patients. These improvements will have a clear impact not only on citizens as (potential) patients, but also on the healthcare workforce.
The SMEs involved in The COVID-X Programme have defined key performance indicators, measured throughout their journey. The project will collect and aggregate this data, aiming to measure its real impact.
COVID-X Leaflet - frontpage
COVID-X Leaflet - backpage