An Interview With Dr Eoin Hyde, CEO, Innersight Labs

What is the novelty that Innersight brings into the field of personalised 3D anatomical models?

The concept of personalised 3D anatomical models have featured within biomedical engineering research for decades now, yet surgeons still have no access to fit-for-purpose software tools to create such models. The tools that do exist are either designed for engineers and not clinicians, often fail on real-world clinical data, or are incompatible with hospital IT infrastructure or hospital data transfer and protection policies. The novelty that Innersight brings is designing convenient tools that clinicians want and providing them in a convenient manner that actually makes their workflow easier, not more complex.

What is Innersight’s experience of being part of the EPSRC IGT Network?

Partaking in the IGT Network+ meeting has been a wonderful experience for us so far. Bringing together diverse groups from academics and SMEs to government agencies like the National Phyics Laboratory, I’ve found it be a melting pot of ideas that by design are interdisciplinary, ambitious, and crucially, feasible.

What are the benefits of partaking in a joint industry-academia network for you as professional, as well as for Innersight Labs?

The benefits for Innersight are primarily networking and ideation, which also help with personal professional development, too. In addition for me, I find the network an incredibly useful opportunity to understand the motivating drivers behind the different groups that are involved and how those factors can be alligned to enable new mutually-beneficial collaborations.

What are the most critical gaps in the IGT field at the moment?

From my perspective there’s a large chasm between biomedical R&D and clinical deployment that is challenging to get badly-needed new technologies across. There is some assistance from great programmes run by the National Institute for Health Research (e.g. i4i, Invention for Innovation scheme) and MedCity (e.g. Collaborate to Innovate), but more help is needed, especially from larger corporates. The recent partnership between NVIDIA and King’s College London, and Heartflow at Imperial College London are welcome steps.

If you could change one thing about the academia industry-NHS collaborations, what would that be? By contrast, what is being done exceptionally well in this area?

My current pet peeve is the staggering amount of administrative burden on healthcare SMEs! Having some form of effective assistance available to offset this burden would really help small but innovate companies to thrive. Even when involved in a collaboration with many partners, the proportion of SME resources spent doing paperwork for funding bodies, universities, and clinical trial sites as compared to developing or testing new products is not healthy from the commercial point of view of a small enterprise.

What academia-industry-NHS collaborations do really well however, is to strongly promote and nurture commercially viable ideas through the clinical evidence building stage. Commercial viability is the only way to generating impact in healthcare. The best and most successful examples of this support that I can think of the NIHR i4i Product Development Award. This programme has continued to generate fantastic clinical output and some very exciting collaborations.

What do you think is a promising trend in translational healthcare engineering research?

I’m very excited about what I perceive to be an awakening within large institutions to re-examine their old systems and ways of conducting business. Some of this drive for change is coming internally from creative people coming up with new ideas and a desire to question traditions, and some is being forced by external factors, such as the proliferation of healthcare accelerators that are willing to give motivated teams a shot. A good example of this is Imperial Innovation’s Founders Choice model of company formation. It’s great to see universities being more flexible and I hope the trend continues!

What are Innersight Labs’ main goals and challenges at the moment?

We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with top surgical leaders at the Royal Free Hospital from very early on in our existence but our main goal for the next year is to significantly expand our user base and get better surgery planning tools into more hospitals even if that’s only to help the clinical team when they meet with patients to discuss treatment options and the risks of any operation. Every new hospital brings with it a new clinical and administrative teams and potentially even new workflows – so even this early-stage scale up will be a good challenge but a great learning experience too.

What are Innersight Labs’ achievements you are most proud of? Any particular lessons learned you would like to share with the Network?

There are lots of short-term milestones and weekly metrics goals that we are proud of within Innersight, but it’s the long-term vision that is fundamental to us. With well over 300 million surgical operations every year world-wide, we won’t be satisfied until surgery planning is once more on a par with the technologies being used to conduct the operations, which have seen staggering improvements in the last 15 years.