Three things we like
Developments that push the boundaries of the health and green economies always grab our attention. Here we list three we particularly like:
Bioelectronics is an emerging technology to treat medical conditions through electrical signalling in the brain and elsewhere. Neurological conditions such as strokes, epilepsy and depression could, in the future, be treated through electronic implants into the brain. Already tetraplegic patients have been helped to control robotic arms with their thoughts. Severely brain-injured patients, people with locked-in status or seemingly in a vegetative state have been helped to communicate. It could probably treat Parkinson’s patients and people with deafness, diabetes and obesity. And it works in a way that isolates the body area treated - even well-designed drugs tend to drench the whole body with unwanted chemicals. Given its dramatic potential for the UK life sciences economy it is good to see GSK making some commitment to this area but it’s still not very well commercialised. Can UK academia and the venture capital community commit? We watch and wait, but hopefully, not for too long.
Mobile health for athletes
Mobile health got a welcome Olympian PR boost. Special Olympics - a sports organisation for people with intellectual disabilities - pioneered a web-based personal health record to help athletes in the UK co-ordinate their own care with automatic messages sent to their mobile phones during the games. There was a public health benefit too, as the fans flocking into the sports venues took advantage of mobile health apps to get up to date information at a time when experts were concerned for the health of visitors converging on London.
Using computers is second nature to most of us but few of us think of how much energy they consume. The Technology Strategy Board is investing £1.25m in studies to encourage technologies to deliver energy-efficient ITC systems. The remit includes studies ranging from massive computer systems to mobile devices and embedded chips. For organisations who want to show they are serious about their carbon footprint it is an initiative to back. Meanwhile, just remember to turn off your PC at night and at lunch break - should you ever get one!