Open-Source Biomedical Devices for Reinventing the Medical Industry

Open-source and collaborative approaches for medical device design will help address patients’ needs and citizens’ views. Information sharing and peer-to-peer evaluations along the development pipeline will make the engineering design process more sustainable, resource efficient and safe.

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The UBORA project brings together European and African universities and their associated technological hubs, biomedical prototyping laboratories and incubators, national and international policymakers, and committed stakeholders. Propelled by a series of summer schools and competitions, consortium partners have within the project’s first year already advanced the conception, development and validation of the UBORA e-infrastructure. In Swahili, the word ubora means excellence.

The platform is for collaborative design of biomedical devices and for sharing developed projects, following open-source schemes. UBORA couples the open design philosophy with Europe’s leadership in quality control and safety assurance, guaranteeing better health and opportunities for sustainable growth. The work has led to creation of a sort of Wikipedia of medical devices, with device classification and identification of horizontal standards as well as blueprints, documentation and performance data. Several devices have been collaboratively developed for testing, improving and validating the e-infrastructure. This has been done on the basis of systematic identification and selection of uncovered medical needs.

Project efforts have also successfully established a continuously growing community of biomedical engineers. Its work confirms that open-source approaches have the potential for redirecting the medical industry towards equitable healthcare supported by world-class technology.

Through the UBORA e-infrastructure, the biomedical community can generate and share open data and blueprints of biomedical devices, accompanied by the required procedures for respecting quality assurance and for assessing performance and safety. When properly implemented, as guaranteed by authorised Notified Bodies, these medical devices can safely be used in hospitals and on patients.

One example of an open-source biomedical device developed within the UBORA e-infrastructure is the Portable Neonate Warmer. Another is an economic and ecological breast pump that has a cooling and preservation system for breast milk.

Ongoing project work, notes the project coordinator Prof. Arti Ahluwalia, “will enable the transformation of the field of biomedical engineering towards the democratisation of medical technology.” It is shifting the current paradigm where patients, doctors and engineers have no choice but to accept medical technology without a say in its design, development or usability.

The UBORA (Euro-African Open Biomedical Engineering e-Platform for Innovation through Education) project aims at transforming biomedical engineering education, generating new content focusing on open-source and collaborative design approaches. These are shared through the e-infrastructure, as well as via the development of international competitions and design schools.

International competitions and design schools focus on global health issues and are oriented to the sustainable gathering, training and growth of the UBORA community. The project is founded on the premise that the path towards universal and equitable healthcare can be facilitated by the development of innovative methodologies for the realisation of safe medical devices capable of addressing global health concerns.

For more information, please see:UBORA project website

Source: CORDIS