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Development of Scottish AI Health Research Centre ‘Ahead of Schedule’

Sinead Donnelly



The centre will develop solutions for more rapid treatment of stroke and breast cancer as well as expert chest x-ray reading.

Senior Technical Manager at Canon Medical Research Europe, Alexander Weir, has said that the development of the Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics (iCAIRD) is progressing sooner than expected.

The pan-Scotland collaboration of 15 partners from across academia, industry, and the NHS were awarded £10m by Innovate UK in 2018 to establish a Scottish centre of excellence in medical imaging and digital pathology with artificial intelligence (AI).

Centred at the University of Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the three-year project will build on significant investment across Scotland and focus on the application of AI in digital diagnostics. This will enable more effective and earlier diagnosis as well as more efficient treatment for patients.

iCAIRD’s medical imaging research will include developing solutions for more rapid treatment for stroke, expert chest x-ray reading, and partly automated mammogram analysis for breast cancer screening. In addition, the centre will also carry out digital pathology research to achieve rapid and more accurate diagnosis in gynaecological disease and colon cancer.

Founding industry partners of iCAIRD include Canon Medical Research Europe – which will develop a network of Safe-Haven Artificial Intelligence Platforms within existing NHS data ‘safe-havens’ – and Philips, along with six SMEs.

Weir explained that the project is “ahead of schedule” with the development of the stroke algorithm beginning in August. “We have had a fantastic start to the programme which has given us a lot of confidence,” he said.


Commenting on the new technology, he added: “The NHS faces ongoing problems with access to radiologists.

“Traditional x-rays take up time and effort for and so the medical imaging research will vastly reduce the time taken to read an x-ray and allow radiologists to concentrate on trickier cases.”

NHS Scotland is an additional founding partner of iCAIRD, in which the NHS Grampian and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde health boards will be centrally involved. iCAIRD will also collaborate with Health Data Research UK and the Scottish national Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) for radiology.

Four SINAPSE partner Universities are the founding academic partners of iCAIRD including; University of Glasgow; University of Aberdeen; University of Edinburgh and; University of St Andrews.

“We are collaborating with the NHS to address key health problems and working with academia to supercharge tech solutions,” Weir explained.

He highlighted that iCAIRD has received global attention particularly from North America and Europe. “iCAIRD is attempting to solve global healthcare problems and the solutions for AI and healthcare discovered in Scotland could be used in other parts of the world.”

Weir hopes that the iCAIRD centre will act as a “catalyst” for SMEs to get more involved in the development of AI and healthcare.

“Canon medical recognise that thousands of algorithms are needed to address healthcare problems. It can take millions of pounds to develop an algorithm from concept to delivery to application.

“The cost required is not sustainable for one organisation to solve. We will continue to work closely with SME’s to establish hubs like iCAIRD”.

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Sinead Donnelly


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