A 3D game-based platform for virtual training in surgical techniques, new software that aids the mechanical ventilation of patients and a certification for artificial intelligence systems in health are the three proposals of the CREB UPC that have been selected in the “la Caixa” Foundation’s 2021 CaixaResearch Validate call.

Three projects of the Centre for Research in Biomedical Engineering (CREB) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), led by researcher Alexandre Perera, have been selected in the 2021 CaixaResearch Validate call: Virtual Perfusionist, MV-Optimizer and Vincer.AI.

Serious games for cardiac surgery training
Virtual Perfusionist is a 3D game-based training platform for operating the heart-lung machine in cardiac surgery. It is a learning resource that fuses game and simulation and recreates a real surgical intervention. The user must operate the machine according to the behaviour of the virtual patient and communicate with the rest of the clinical team. Led by UPC researcher Daniela Tost and developed in collaboration with the Hospital Clínic and the University of Barcelona (UB), this serious game offers an economical and accessible form of training that is complementary to conventional training and physical simulation. Aimed primarily at perfusion students and professionals, its main objective is to significantly improve their technical and communication skills, thus increasing their emotional well-being and contributing to safer operations. The researchers Ariel von Barnekow and Núria Bonet (CREB), Maria Teresa Mata (Hospital Clínic)and Carmen Gomar (UB)are also taking part in developing the platform.

More efficient mechanical ventilation of ICU patients
MV-Optimizer (MV-O)
, a proposal led by researcher Leidy Yanet from the Biosignal Analysis for Rehabilitation and Therapy (BIOART) research group at the CREB UPC, is a technology designed to support clinicians in using mechanical ventilation on critically ill patients more efficiently. MV-Optimizer integrates complex mathematical models that can be trained and dynamically self-adjusted with patients’ clinical data and offers clinicians the possibility of testing various ventilator settings, which simulates the patient’s response to these settings and aids decision making. This will improve the care of ventilated patients and reduce the duration of hospital admissions by 30%, which will considerably reduce healthcare and occupancy costs in ICUs.CREB researcher Miguel Angel Mañanas is also involved in the project.

Auditing AI in healthcare
Vincer.AI, a spin-off led by Alexandre Perera, a researcher of the CREB UPC and its director, and Pol Solà de los Santos, a researcher in the Bioinformatics and Biomedical Signals Laboratory (B2SLab) research groupaims to become the first artificial intelligence (AI) algorithmic auditing company in healthcare. The team of experts has designed a set of audit lines that standardises quality control for AI healthcare models, including a database of previously identified risks in healthcare AI systems. Once the new system is audited, a cryptographic mark serves as a technology segment to verify compliance with each prediction. Granting greater confidence to AI systems will reduce the time and resources needed to translate scientific advances into clinical practice and ensure traceability, allowing end users to verify the compliance of healthcare AI providers.

These three initiatives are also part of Xartec Salut, a catalyst programme for research, development and innovation in the Catalan health technology field led by the CREB UPC.

Support for leading biomedical projects
The “la Caixa” Foundation will accelerate to market 20 new biomedical projects with a social impact within the framework of the 2021 CaixaResearch Validate and CaixaResearch Consolidate call. The programme aims to promote innovation, knowledge transfer and technology transfer in biomedicine and healthcare and to launch research-based start-ups. It was established in 2015 in collaboration with Caixa Capital Risc and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Health).

The Foundation will support 17 out of 97 projects presented in the 2021 CaixaResearch Validate call, which is aimed at early-stage innovation proposals. Virtual Perfusionist, MV-Optimizer and Vincer.AI will each receive up to 100,000 euros to validate their technologies and design a roadmap for their valorisation process.