IBM invests in Watson Health Center to accelerate innovation in Finland

IBM has opened The IBM Watson Health Center in Helsinki, Finland. The new center will enable Finnish healthcare to utilize Watson cognitive computing to help doctors improve the health of Finnish citizens, and strengthen and develop the Finnish innovation and business ecosystem in the fields of health and well-being. The center is expected to employ up to 150 consultants in Finland over the next few years.
The IBM Watson Health Center will be a hub for the collaborative future development of data-driven cognitive and artificial intelligence applications and solutions for Finnish healthcare bringing together public and private healthcare organizations, start-ups, pharmaceutical companies, small and medium-sized companies, large corporations, as well as universities and researchers. The center is part of a five-year landmark collaboration agreement between Tekes the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation and IBM.
The new center is anticipated to have several focus areas for healthcare solutions development. These include Watson Health Imaging, Clinical Trial Matching, Drug Delivery & Life Sciences, APIs and population health management. Initially, the key healthcare areas that the center will focus on will cover oncology, genomics and rare disease management. The intent is to provide four distinct research and development environments where healthcare solutions, technology and applications can be tested prior to deployment, including a simulation of a hospital environment, a doctor’s practice, a home environment for remote patient care and a gym environment for those involved in the quantified self-movement (self-knowledge through self-tracking with technology).
Mirva Antila, the General Manager of IBM Finland, said: “Today, The IBM Watson Health Center is officially open for business and we welcome clients, start-ups and developers to come visit us to innovate together. Medical data is expected to double every 73 days by 2020*. Let’s use Watson’s cognitive capabilities to harness that data and create insights to deliver better health for Finland and other countries around the world.”
Finland has a unique health ecosystem characterized by full electronic health records and nation-wide access to healthcare, in addition to the close co-operation among public and private sector entities working in health and wellness.
“I am delighted to see the IBM Watson Health Center open. This center shows IBM’s commitment to our partnership and will enable close collaboration among health-tech companies, top-notch researchers and world-class hospitals to create a strong health eco-system,” said Pekka Soini, Director General of Tekes. “I am positive that Watson cognitive capabilities will further boost innovation in Finland and put us at the forefront of game-changing health transformation, at the European level and in the global marketplace.”
IBM has been operating in Finland since 1936, with multiple business divisions that are active in various industry sectors that are strategic for national development, from manufacturing to healthcare. With its headquarters in Helsinki, IBM Finland has become a cognitive and cloud platform company that digitally transforms companies and industries in Finland.
Tekes is the most important publicly funded expert organization for financing research, development and innovation in Finland. For international companies Tekes provides an easy access to the Finnish innovation ecosystem and helps companies to start research and development activities in Finland.
Watson is the first commercially available cognitive computing capability representing a new era in computing. The system, delivered through the cloud, analyses high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions. In April 2015, the company launched IBM Watson Health and the Watson Health Cloud platform. The new unit will help improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and shared daily. The Watson Health Cloud can mask individual identities and allow this information to be shared and combined with a dynamic and constantly growing aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data.