Nordregio’s 5G matchmaking efforts proved to be a game-changer as they successfully united two ambitious teams working on 5G technology for cancer metaverse surgery. The Portuguese and Latvian collaboration was acknowledged during a presidential state visit to Lisbon.
The 5G matchmaking event on 5G and health in February hosted by Nordregio sparked an exciting Portuguese-Latvian collaboration.
During the event, the participants were introduced to the Champalimaud Foundation and its project on breast cancer metaverse surgery.
Rolands Lappuķe, who is an adviser on smart technology to the President of Latvia, attended the matchmaking event to learn more about digital medical projects in the Nordic-Baltic Sea region and find new collaboration possibilities.
“In 2023, Latvia has the role of coordinating the Nordic-Baltic activities and organising a meeting with the health ministers. Latvia is also developing capacities in the 5G domain and organises an international conference called 5G Techritory, so I am attentive to new ideas.”
The Nordic-Baltic collaboration is institutionalised with the Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation (MR-DIGITAL), including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Lappuķe is convinced that common activities in digital health should be fostered.
During the 5G matchmaking event, his attention was drawn to the presentation given by surgeon Pedro Gouveia of the Champalimaud Foundation in Portugal about an ongoing project on breast cancer metaverse surgery, and his search for partnerships.
After the event, Lappuķe intiated the first steps of the collaboration, including putting the Champalimaud Foundation in the programme for the State Visit of the President of Latvia to Portugal in April.
When looking for Latvian actors that could be suitable for the Portuguese case the Pauls Stradiņš hospital instantly responded.
“The Latvian hospital will work on an experimental metaverse surgery room. This project will first have a scientific and educational aspect and should become operational after some time. For the time being the teams will be gathering breast cancer patient data to reach a critical mass allowing them to develop deep-learning methods.”
During the trip to Lisbon in April, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Champalimaud Foundation, the Rīga Stradiņš University, Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital and Rīga Technical University, in the presence of the Portuguese and the Latvian presidents.
“The visit to the Champalimaud Foundation was insightful, and the collaboration that was initiated is promising. The experimental aspect is particularly valuable and holds potential for advancing research. Even for the Foundation, it is probably unusual to have the signing of an agreement in the presence of two presidents”, Lappuķe says.
He also highlights the cross-border aspect as highly relevant to medical data. The Latvian team has already been integrated into a consortium for a European grant with the Champalimaud team, and a German and an Italian team. There may be good news about the project’s financing in a few months.
The collaboration seems to be a match made in heaven. What does Rolands Lappuķe think is the secret behind finding new partners?
“I don’t think there is a recipe for successful matchmaking. The work has a missionary aspect. Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity. And this was a beautiful case of serendipity which you can’t really plan.”
This chance encounter serves as a reminder that sometimes luck and opportunity can come from unexpected sources. But maybe also a reminder is to always sign up for a matchmaking event if there is an opportunity!
Fostering Nordic-Baltic collaboration and innovation in 5G is crucial for realizing the full potential of this technology and for enabling digital transformation across various industries and in research. Through collaboration, actors can share knowledge, resources, and expertise to accelerate the development and deployment of 5G solutions that meet the needs of society, research, businesses and citizens.
The 5G matchmaking webinar series “5G for Smart Societies” promoted by the Nordic-Baltic 5G Monitoring tool project aims to contribute to the development of a more integrated, connected, and inclusive Nordic-Baltic region offering possibilities for actors to share experiences and build new partnerships. The events aim to share inspirational stories and learnings from the Nordic and Baltic Countries, as well as other European countries on the role of 5G in smart societies and provide a platform for discussion and to foster networking and sometimes jumpstarting collaboration with Nordic-Baltic and even European added value!