The Central Institute of Medical Engineering (ZiMT) was founded in December 2009. It unites the competences of the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) in the field of medical engineering. Furthermore, it serves as structural interface between scientific research, training and industry. Through this it fills the position of an initiator of interregional and international scientific research in the Medical Engineering sector.
The ZiMT as a central institute of the university is led by an interdisciplinary cooperative team of the FAU. It consists of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Joachim Hornegger (Faculty of Technology), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schüttler (Faculty of Medicine) and Prof. Dr. Ben Fabry (Faculty of Science). Operatively, managing directors Dr. Simone Reiprich, MBA and Tobias Zobel lead the ZiMT.
By now, about 70 professors and university lectures belong to the ZiMT. Its main scopes of tasks are the coordination of numerous activities and research projects with its partners, the organisation of the course of study for the BA and MA in medical engineering, as well as publicly representing the interdisciplinary activities of medical engineering of the FAU.
>> You will find more information about the success story of the first five years since foundation of the institute by downloading our Activity Report 2009-2014.
Globally, the Friedrich-Alexander-University and its non-university related faculties as well as Erlangen´s economy have an excellent reputation in the field of healthcare engineering. Apart from the regional and economic conditions, this is based on a combination of the strong faculties of medicine, technology and science. The goal of the university is to support, expand and depict this network in a lasting way.
Core areas of the common activities at the ZiMT are therefore:
- assistance to start-up entrepreneurs
- coordination of interdisciplinary education
- integrated representation of research activities
- initiating of interregional and international scientific research in the medical engineering sector
- extension of the FAU “healthcare engineering” network
- development of further interdisciplinary incentives, strategies and support for the research in this specific field
- go-between of the FAU and research institutes, associations, non-profit organisations and other universities.
- central coordinator for research collaborations with industrial and smaller companies
- integration and connection of students to research and industry by coordinating topics for BA and MA theses.
Research and training in the German “Healthcare Capital”
Nationally and internationally Erlangen and its university are seen as a stronghold for research in medical engineering and the connected industry. Unquestionable, medical engineering is one of the strongest competences of the Friedrich-Alexander-University. Therefore, there is a strong emphasis on this field when communicating the university´s profile. Especially the ZiMT as central contact has a coordinating function. It takes care of the realisation of strategic goals, the application of new projects and the training of strong research syndicates. This includes the helpful environment of research organisations that are not part of the university like the Fraunhofer-Society, Max-Planck-Institute, large industries like Siemens and local facilities and projects as well as specific associations and non-profit organisations. The current situation of all members of the ZiMT and therefore the field of medical engineering of the university is recorded in a list of publications and patent applications. Moreover, there is ongoing benchmarking and optimising of the usual efficiency parameters. On this basis, new core areas and competences can be derived and new concepts for new projects and improvement of existing ones can be designed. This plays an important role not only in future competitions and rankings but also as a basis for setting future goals in cooperation with the Ministry for Economic Affairs.
The highest level of interdisciplinary cooperation
The bachelor course ´healthcare engineering´ started as second largest study program at the Faculty of Technology in the winter term 2009/2010 with great motivation and satisfaction of the students. In the second year, it turned into the largest program with 300 registered students and over 50% of female students.
Three different faculties participate in this program: the Faculty of Technology, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science. In particular, courses such as informatics, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, information technology, mechanical engineering, material engineering as well as chemical and biological engineering are embedded in the degree course ´healthcare engineering´. Right from the start in the first terms, the basics for mathematics, physics, and medical subjects are set. Beyond the obvious cooperation of the faculties of technology, medicine and natural science, there are also specific references to arts, humanities, and economics.
However, for students it is important to have a central contact that is not concerned with for example only study programs at the Faculty of Technology but has an interdisciplinary overview. The ZiMT takes care of this by having an advisory board of one professor of each of the three faculties.
Furthermore, the accompanying master program started in October 2011. Students can choose from three possibilities to specialize in: medical imaging and data processing (informatics), medical electronics (electrical engineering) and instrument engineering and prosthetics (mechanical and material engineering).
For quite a while various players had connected the university to the “Medical Valley EMN e.v.”. Ongoing joint, strategical projects between the ZiMT and the Medical Valley are continuously initiated to bring new inventions into the market and to foster entrepreneurial thinking amongst FAU students. After the foundation of the Central Institute of Medical Engineering (ZiMT) the cooperation and networking grew even stronger, as the ZiMT unites and channels the different facilities and information. Its mission is to expand the research network in the priority area of medical engineering within and around the university. In addition, the institute provides a more transparent public image of the highly dynamic area of “healthcare engineering” at the Friedrich-Alexander-University.
Apart from the connection to the university, the network reaches out to other relevant associations and non-profit organisations, like the Forum MedTech Pharma, Bayern Innovativ, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Biomedizinische Technik and many others.
Establishment of new Spin-Offs
Support of spin-offs from the university
The support of spin-offs from the university in the field of medical engineering is one of the biggest aspects on the agenda of the ZiMT in association with the Medical Valley. The ZiMT consults start-ups with advice and support when working on the implementation of strategies for their company and products. The network of the ZiMT is a helpful parameter as well as the close collaboration with Kontaktstelle Wissens- und Technologietransfer WTT, IGZ Innovations- und Gründerzentrum Nürnberg-Fürth-Erlangen GmbH, netzwerk|nordbayern, Innovationszentrum Medizintechnik und Pharma (IZMP) and Medical Valley EMN e.V.
Contract Research and Privat Public Partnerships
Commercialization of the many applicable competences of the university´s healthcare engineering sector has a positive influence on third party funds. The ZiMT functions as a contact for companies as it has the necessary insight into the university´s system to connect the companies with the relevant university expert.
In Erlangen, many smaller companies in the medical engineering sector depend on a few industrial partners. At the same time, those smaller companies, (often being a spin-off of one of FAU’s chairs,) closely collaborate with the university. Therefore, new research synergies between SME and big companies enable new possibilities to start projects at the university. Projects which are led by the responsible faculty but in which all those smaller companies can participate with their competences.
The possibilities of the FAU are often underestimated. The university can unite knowledge, interest and strength in university courses, conferences and research papers like master theses or dissertation projects. It is the job of ZiMT to assign coordinators who are able to bundle interdisciplinary information from the different faculties to lead a successful scientific project. This way, the collaboration with many different small companies who join university projects are able to achieve great results with comparatively low costs. On this basis, good ideas from now can be put in action in the future. The idea gets developed and is than split up to different small companies for the actual realization.