Between 16-20 of September 2019, the Conference Center of University Politehnica of Bucharest hosted the 5thedition of SSIMA Re:Imagine Healthcare. See the website: https://ssima.eu. This edition (and of last year) of SSIMA received the prestigious MICCAI endorsement. MICCAI (www.miccai.org) is the world’s highest level organization for Medical Image Analysis.

38 speakers, coming from world-class universities, companies, hospitals and investment funds shared their latest developments and inventions, as well as the latest trends in healthcare, focused on the impact of artificial intelligence. It was a true Summer School, with long (45 min) tutorial, hands-on workshops, demos and a lot of scientific networking.

A short overview:

  • Alon Wolf, Vice President of Technion University in Israel and founder of Medrobotics, spoke about the state-of-the-art in surgical robotics.
  • Nikos Paragios, distinguished professor at CentraleSupélec and founder of TheraPanacea presented the impact of Artificial Intelligence in Radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer.
  • Prof. Ovidiu Andronesi presented his latest work at Harvard Medical School, focused on precision medicine in the era of imagining genomics.
  • Dr. Michal Guindy, Head of radiology department, and Dudi Klein, Head of innovation, (both from Assuta Medical Centers in Israel) presented the unique innovation model used by Assuta Clinics and the support offered by the Israeli government for innovation in healthcare.
  • Dr. Andrei Broder, pioneer in the Computational Advertising field and the inventor of CAPTCHA test and Google Ads, discussed Web search as the novel source of epidemiological data.

SSIMA started with a full-day Masterclass on Deep Learning, given by professor and co-organizer of SSIMA Bart ter Haar Romeny and ended with a hands-on workshop on Keras and Tensorflow.

Through its 3 tracks (SSIMA:Med, SSIMA:Tech and SSIMA:High School) and 2 side events (SSIMA:Biz and SSIMA:Startups Pitch Session), SSIMA 2019 addressed 150 participants, from high school students to tech developers, medical doctors, entrepreneurs and policy makers.

Out of these, 40 people were international participants from 18 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Finland, Spain, France, Italy, Israel, Iran, Vietnam, Russia, Mauritius, Ethiopia, the Netherlands and others.

In the SSIMA:Tech track, 80 participants attended, out of which 50% were Master and PhD students, while the remaining 50% came from research institutes, companies (such as Siemens, Pfizer, Stryker, GE, Philips) and startups in the MedTech field.

In the side event Re:Startups Pitching Session,organized in partnership with the Romanian Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI), 5 Romanian startups presented their solutions to a jury composed of international experts in the field.

SSIMA:Biz, organized in partnership with the Trade Mission Department of the Embassy of Israel in Romania, showcased 5 international healthcare companies from Israel, Spain and Romania to an audience composed of hospital directors, medical doctors, distribution companies, policy makers.

A panel discussion took place during the 4thday, with the focus on boosting innovation in healthcare in Romania. Panelists included Ramona Jurubita (Country Manager, KPMG Romania), Tudor Pop (USR Deputy), Dragos Garofil (PNL), Dr Michal Guindy (Head of Radiology Department), Prof Bart Romeny (Eindhoven University of Technology). The discussion was moderated by Romanian journalist and policy maker, Vlad Mixich. The morning before this discussion saw presentations by prof. Alex Frangi (Leeds University), prof. Wiro Niessen (Rotterdam University) and prof. Dave Hawkes (University College London), each leading a large MedTech institute (> 50 PhD) directly embedded within their hospital, who explained how they pioneered the path to grow to this highly successful and symbiotic collaboration between clinical experts and (biomedical) engineers.

I’ve really enjoyed SSIMA 2019, for a variety of reasons. Getting to know Bucharest and some other beautiful parts of Romania has been wonderful. And the meeting itself has been very rewarding, certainly for me as a speaker and attendee, but I would think for the other attendees too: students, researchers, medical professionals, faculty, engineers and managers from established industry, new as well as experienced entrepreneurs, …. Each of these groups was well represented, and by people from a variety of countries: Romania certainly, but also Israel, Turkey, Holland, Britain, France, Slovenia, the US, … – and many of these attendees talked of their experiences in yet other countries. Nevertheless, the meeting had an intimate, friendly and relaxed feel, and ran smoothly with the involvement of many helpful volunteers. I’ve met several people that I’ll hope to stay in touch with.

 I found the talks that I attended to be inspiring (and often awe-inspiring too!), instructive, very relevant to medical technology, and I’m taking away ideas that I’ll want to chew on further. It was refreshing to hear lectures that were longer than the typical conference talk, with speakers describing the highlights and lessons and future plans of careers that spanned decades. I repeatedly got the sense that the talk I was hearing was created fresh for this particular audience. In my case, certainly, this was the first time I was attempting to present ideas I had been gathering in my mind for a while. 

 All in all, the meeting was thoroughly worthwhile. I commend and thank the organizers, and look forward to participating in a future SSIMA gathering! „ George Verghese,  Professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, MIT

SSIMA was organized by GOMITech (Global Organization for Medical Innovation and Technology) in partnership with the University Politehnica of Bucharest, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”, Technion IIT, Eindhoven University of Technology, the Embassy of Israel in Romania, MedicHub and was financially supported by Siemens Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, the Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI), the Ministry of Research and Innovation, KPMG, Neolife Medical Centers, and General Electric (GE).

We consider SSIMA 2019 was a great success and Romania is definitely on the map with regards to Medical Technology. There is still a lot of work to be done but step by step we are realizing our vision and we are very proud to be part of it.

With warm regards, the organizers,

Dr. Elena Ovreiu, Politehnica University

Prof. Bart Romeny, Eindhoven University of Technology

Prof. Alfred Buckstein, Technion Israel IT