New health tech community pop-up targets urban deprivation

A University-led partnership has successfully applied for national research funding to create a digital and eHealth centre in the heart of one of the most socioeconomically deprived areas of the country.

The Centre for Health Technology Pop-Up is to be based in Stonehouse and will bring together researchers and students from nursing, computing, design, medicine, engineering, architecture and urban design, with community activity specialists and crowdfunders over the course of the six-month partnership. 

The pop-up centre will aim to address health inequalities and social deprivation using digital technology and eHealth solutions. This includes companion robots as well as apps and internet-based health and welfare resources. It will support business start-ups and the thriving regional, digital entrepreneur network through industry pop-up spaces and involve the public in the co-creation of initiatives.

The pop-up is among 25 projects nationwide to receive an Enhancing Place-Based Partnership for Public Engagement award, all announced by UK Research and Innovation. 

The £32,000 grant, with matched funding from the University, will see the creation of the pop-up in The Plot on Union Street, and the installation of equipment and eHealth technologies.

Dr Katharine Willis, Associate Professor in the School of Art, Design and Architecture, said: 

“We’re excited to be working with Nudge Community Builders in Stonehouse to explore using innovative health technologies to address local challenges around health and inequality. The pop up Centre for Health Technology aligns our research strengths with local community needs, part of our role as a Civic University, in order to positively impact health within the local community.”

The University’s Centre for Health Technology is running the project in partnership with Nudge Community Builders, Plymouth Community Homes, Plymouth City Council, Crowdfund Ready and Adelaide Street GP surgery. The role of Nudge will be key as they bring expertise in owning, co-creating and running community activities in disused urban spaces. 

Among the work that is set to take place is the creation of the social health innovation centre, the co-design of workshops and seed-funding events, digital social innovation projects, and a volunteering timebank for staff and students.

The project builds on the research and expertise at the University’s Centre for Health Technology and the EPIC project (eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) that drives the development, evaluation and implementation of innovative technologies to transform health and social care. It is also supports the institution’s commitment to becoming a Civic University

UKRI’s Head of Public Engagement, Tom Saunders, said: 

“The 53 pilot projects that we have funded represent an exciting range of ways that researchers and innovators can involve the public in their work, from games to citizens’ juries, storytelling to data crowdsourcing. In 2020 and beyond, we will build on the lessons we learn through funding these pilot projects to help us achieve our ambition of making research and innovation responsive to the knowledge, priorities and values of society and open to participation by people from all backgrounds.”

Centre for Health Technology

Bringing together digital health and health technology expertise from across the University to drive the development, evaluation and implementation of innovative technologies, products, services and approaches to transform health and social care.

Find out more about our Centre for Health Technology.