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NASA To Offer Innovation Advice To NHS

Space experts will join speakers including dot-com innovator Martha Lane Fox at an upcoming health service conference

The National Health Service is set to get advice on how to improve its use of technology and innovation from an unlikely source – the US space agency NASA.

It was revealed late last week that representatives from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be among the speakers at a two day health service conference later this month.

According to a Department of Health statement, NASA’s director of Innovative Partnerships Program Doug Comstock will speak at the NHS Innovation Expo to be held at London’s Excel centre on the 18 and 19th June.

Comstock will apparently discuss how NASA’s exploration of space have led to innovations in health and medicine. “There are many technologies needed to ensure the health of astronauts for long duration spaceflights, and those technologies often have additional applications,” NASA said in a statement.

Comstock’s mandate includes managing NASA’s intellectual property concerns and how these can be licensed to the business world. The space agency claims that previous advances made during the course of the space programme have found secondary applications in “medicine, new materials, precision robotics, tele-medicine, and life support technologies”.

Other speakers at the event include UK tech entrepreneur Martha Lane-Fox, founder of lastminute.com who will apparently share her secrets on “how to bring innovative ideas to life”, according to the Department of Health. Lane-Fox may have a special interest in health care following a serious accident in 2004 in Morocco in which she shattered bones in her arms, legs and pelvis. The dot com innovator described herself at the “bionic woman”, in an interview following the accident.

The innovation summit is part of a wider strategy led by health minister Lord Darzi to “foster a pioneering NHS” in which innovation is encouraged. “Creating a culture of innovation is also essential if the NHS is to meet the current economic challenges and continue to support this country’s knowledge industries to ensure that we benefit from the competitive edge which they provid,” said Lord Darzi. “That is why I am urging NHS and social care staff from every level and every clinical group to sign up to attend the Innovation Expo to learn more about how they can play their part in making the NHS a more innovative organisation.”

Intel vice president Louis Burns will be on hand to discuss the role of technology in innovation. It is not clear however if Burns will be sharing all of Intel’s tips for getting ahead. Earlier this month, Intel received a record fine of £950m at the hands of the European anti-trust regulators for its questionable business methods.