The University of South Carolina has opened its Innovation Think Tank (ITT) Lab in downtown Columbia in collaboration with Siemens Healthineers. The space will be an innovation hub where participants including researchers, faculty members, and students can think outside the box to solve issues in healthcare, artificial intelligence, robotics, and information technology. The ITT Lab at South Carolina is the first Innovation Think Tank Lab affiliated with a U.S. university, as part of Siemens Healthineers’ global network of Innovation Think Tank Labs led by adjunct professor Sultan Haider.
“Centers like this are so important because they bring technology and use it to create something new and do things differently,” said Elizabeth Regan, the chair of Integrated Information Technology at the College of Engineering and Computing. “That involves opening your mind, moving yourself out of your comfort zone, innovative thinking, and collaborating.”
Computer science professor Neset Hikmet, who oversaw the lab’s creation, said his vision for the lab is to host workshops with participants from diverse academic backgrounds and to provide them with mentorship and resources to solve pressing issues in healthcare and beyond. “These are all opportunities that have participants getting out of their boundaries, meeting different people, and experiencing different cultures and ways of doing things,” Hikmet said.
Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, noted the importance of the university’s growing partnership with Siemens. “The focus of Siemens Healthineers is very much aligned with that of modern curricula, which stress design thinking in addition to coverage of the fundamentals,” Haj-Hariri said. “Furthermore, the innovation process underpinning Healthineers and ITT provides a natural platform for imparting to the participants the soft skills necessary for success in the 21st century.”
Dilek Akgun, director of operations at the ITT Lab, said that this new facility will promote creative thinking in the future. “The ITT Lab will allow us to bring people together from a variety of disciplines to share their unique perspectives, which will stimulate innovation and help great ideas become reality,” Akgun said.
Thanks to the UofSC ITT Lab’s affiliation with Siemens Healthineers’ global ITT infrastructure worldwide, the participants will be able to share knowhow with other ITT members and participate at its various locations in Germany, the U.K., China, Turkey, India, and the U.S. This global network will allow participants to collaborate with other innovators worldwide.
Siemens Healthineers’ ITT Lab founder and director Haider, who is also now affiliated with the College of Engineering and Computing as an adjunct professor to help with the successful implementation of the lab, heads Siemens Healthineers’ ITT global organization from Germany. Haider noted the benefits that students will see from this new partnership. “In addition to many new learning possibilities, the UofSC ITT lab’s top participants will have the potential for receiving a variety of fellowships and internships with the Siemens Healthineers ITT lab global network,” Haider said.
In conjunction with the opening of the ITT Lab, 20 participants from academic institutions such as South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Benedict College, and the University of Florida participated in a two-day “Interdisciplinary Innovations in Healthcare Workshop.” There, the participants were challenged to identify a problem in the healthcare industry and then develop and present a real-world solution to that problem.
In just two days’ time, these participants’ ideas showed the possibilities of this new lab organized around innovation. Their ideas included an app for stroke detection and monitoring in real-time, an implant that holds patients’ medical history, and a smart pill that treats obesity.