Diagnostic laboratories are a mix of state-of-the-art equipment and legacy equipment from different suppliers and manufacturers. This poses major challenges for process automation. The open standards SiLA 2 and AniML enable a common communication interface between these different devices, overcoming one of the biggest hurdles in implementing robotic solutions in the laboratory. To promote the spread of these open standards and thus accelerate innovation in the lab, BioLAGO and SiLA organized a linked series of hackathons.
Technology transfer is based on creativity, openness and exchange of ideas. These values are embodied in the concept of a hackathon, where people from different fields and industries work together to find novel solutions to common challenges. This creates new connections in the healthcare robotics value chain and enables new input from outsiders from the wider robotics or ICT environment. While hackathons are often sponsored by industry representatives, this tends to limit the challenges and solutions, and sometimes even the participants, to the specific applications that are of interest to the industry sponsors. In contrast, a hackathon that is independent of corporate sponsorship and influence unleashes the full creative potential of all participants, often leading to unforeseen connections between participants and truly innovative ideas that are particularly important for standards adoption.
As the hackathons were open events for all, technology transfer from different fields was possible. Experience has shown that the areas from which new technology impulses can be expected are most likely to be ICT and robotics and automation. In both areas, the partners SiLA and BioLAGO have access to SMEs in the region that are market leaders in their respective fields, which guarantees high-quality input. This led to accelerated innovation of products and services that meet the needs of end users in laboratories across Europe.
The innovations developed during the events were based on the industry-proven SiLA 2 and AniML standards, providing a sustainable platform for all stakeholders in the European healthcare industry.
In 2019, partners SiLA and BioLAGO organised a very successful event with a hackathon. The partners have proven that they are able to work towards the common goal of greater adoption of interoperability standards. Based on the experience gained, it was planned to organise a linked series of hackathons to go through the complete cycle from idea to prototype and product, strengthening the collaboration between the different actors working together on their solutions. SiLA and BioLAGO estimate that the hackathons led to the creation of up to 20 prototypes and up to 4 new products using the SiLA 2 and AniML standards.