How project clustering can give added value to WELMO and other EU projects?

EXODUS as the coordinator of the WELMO took the initiative for creating a cluster of EU projects in the field of Medical Wearables. The Medical Wearable Cluster has members different H2020 & ERC projects that will team up to facilitate the synergies among them, giving added value to the foreseen results.

In first place coordinators will think, “Doesn’t require extra effort to our already hectic schedules?”. The benefits for the clustered projects could be numerous and the involvement of each party is limited to the available time that would like to dedicate. Usually the coordinators form a Steering Committee that will “manage” the cluster taking decisions on the operation & communication plan.  Periodical (virtual) meetings could be set up on a 1-to-3 month basis, discussing ideas and challenges.   

The cluster can focus in the following pillars:

  • Policy Making
  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Stronger & Joint Communication Actions
  • Standards

Let’s analyse a little bit the above sectors. EC has done some significant work in regards to wearables such as the Smart Wearables Reflection and Orientation Paper, the Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC (“MDD”), the Manual on Borderline and Classification in the Community regulatory framework for medical Devices.  The MDD will be replaced by the Medical Devices Regulation 2017/745 (“MDR”) as from 26 May 2020. While a series of other directives complement the previous ones 95/46/EC – Data Protection, 2002/58 Electronic Communications Regulation of Security of networks and services and confidentiality of communication, 2001/95/EC – Product Safety and the well-known 95/46/EC GDPR directive. These directives and regulation may affect the development of the results towards the exploitation.  The cluster can create round table discussions with EC representatives from relevant DGs, JRC and other EC bodies discussing policies and provide suggestions for common policies and structural reforms.

In Knowledge Sharing, the cluster can exchange methodologies, approaches, datasets, important industry contacts. A way to facilitate this, is through clustering workshops where project advancements can be presented from coordinators and key partners periodically. A more thorough approach depending on the availability of the partners is the set up of inter-project working groups. A series of Cluster Working Group can be organized; for example:

  • Smart Textile Working Group
  • Microelectronics Working Group
  • Intelligent Analytics Working Group
  • Casing/Enclosure Working Group
  • Standards Working Group
  • Security Working Group
  • Bioethics Working Group

 Where a chair and a vice-chair can arrange virtual meetings and the exchange of best practices and methodologies.

An important matter of discussion among the cluster members (and possibly the working groups) is the adoption of EU standards and more specifically the CEN-CENELEC standards. A Standards Working Group with the support of the steering committee could potentially liaise with relevant CEN-CENELEC Focus group that create standards, affecting them, provide directions for adopting them within the cluster projects or can even establish a new CEN coordination groups in case that it’s feasible.

In order to showcase the cluster activities, a dedicated website and brand identity (logo, poster, flyer) should be created while joint communication events that may be aligned can give a stronger visibility of the outcomes.   

EU citizens demand drastic measures and radical solutions as the recent COVID-19 crisis has shown to all of us. Research and Innovation at EU level sometimes suffer from segmentation, addressing in many cases the same problem with similar approaches that at the end of the day do not make the extra mile towards commercialization. A more cohesive approach should be followed from same projects promoting synergies towards Europeanization and bigger impact for the citizens. WELMO is proud to support with everything in its power the establishment of the Medical Wearables Cluster targeting at higher impact for the people through tangible synergies beyond the project closure.

Anax Fotopoulos