Smart D8 initiative launched to accelerate health innovation

Smart D8 – a new initiative to transform the health and wellbeing of citizens through innovation and collaboration – has been launched today by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris.

  • Research shows 1 in 4 Dublin 8 residents require mental health support & 1 in 3 have long term health challenges
  • First call for pilot projects to focus on Covid-19 Impact, Mental Health and Population Health
  • Smart D8 is led by The Digital Hub, St. James’s Health Campus, Dublin City Council and Smart Dublin

Smart D8 has the purpose of investigating how new and innovative approaches can be used to improve and sustain citizens’ health and wellbeing in Dublin 8. It brings together a unique consortium of experts in healthcare, academia, local government and industry, and is being led by The Digital Hub, St. James’s Hospital, Smart Dublin and Dublin City Council.

The creation of a health innovation district in the area, that will provide a focal point for innovators working to develop product, service or technology solutions, is also a key element of the Smart D8 programme. This will build on the area’s existing pedigree of digital health companies & academic excellence while leveraging the St James’s Hospital Campus which is Ireland’s largest acute academic teaching hospital.

Smart D8 has conducted the first phase of research in advance of the launch to understand the current health and wellbeing needs in Dublin 8 and the findings have been used to form the foundation of the project. Initial health & wellbeing themes identified in consultation with the community include mental health, the impact of Covid-19, population health, environment and positive & healthy ageing.

The recent survey of Dublin 8 residents showed that in line with data from the Irish population as a whole, 82% of people were in very good or good health, with 40% taking regular exercise. However, 31% of the Dublin 8 community had a long-standing health problem, 27% had accessed mental health supports in the last 2 years, and 21% had unmet health needs due to waiting lists.  68% of residents also advised that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted their health and wellbeing negatively.

The research also identified services that might help to deliver improvements in the sustainability of community health and wellbeing: 61% of respondents said they would use an allotment to growth fruit and vegetables if it was available, and 92% would use a recreational park for exercise if it was available to them.

The first call for Smart D8 pilot projects is also being launched today and will focus on the three themes of Mental Health, Population Health and Covid-19 Impact.   There will be additional calls for pilot projects throughout the project based on the needs of the community.  The results of the pilots will act as a template for health and wellbeing management for the rest of the country.

One initiative that is already underway is the Healthy Ageing for a New Digital Society (HANDS) project that is using smart technology to support the care of vulnerable and elderly Dublin 8 residents living in social housing accommodation. The purpose of the project is to improve services and quality of life for social housing residents to allow them to remain in their homes for longer in line with the national Sláintecare policy. The project is a collaboration between the HSE, Dublin City Council, Smart Dublin, ESB, Maynooth University and technology partners Tata Consultancy. The HANDS project is aiming to put Dublin 8 at the forefront of assisted living, and learnings from the project could help scale other approaches nationally.

Minister Harris will mark the launch of Smart D8 at a virtual event later this morning. Also speaking at the event are Orla Veale, Smart D8 Project Lead, Fiach Mac Conghail, CEO, The Digital Hub, Mary Day, CEO, St James’s Hospital, Owen Keegan, Chief Executive, Dublin City Council, Maria Flanagan, Community Partner Lead, An Cosan, Austin Campbell, Community Organisations & Resident’s Network and CEO, Robert Emmet CDP, Prof. Jacqueline Oldham, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Health Innovation Manchester and Dr Philip Crowley, National Director of Quality Improvement, Health Services Executive.

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D said:

“Smart D8 is an excellent example of how a multi-disciplinary consortium, drawn from both the public and private sectors, can come together with the aim of transforming the health and wellbeing of a community. Smart City initiatives have exciting potential to benefit citizens and their communities, and I look forward to seeing Smart D8 explore the crucial area of health & wellbeing to deliver positive results for people living in Dublin 8.”

Mary Day, CEO of St. James’s Hospital, said:

“The Smart D8 initiative aligns with our strategic ambition to create a world-class health system around the St James’s  Campus, with our designated Healthcare Partners, within an Academic Health Sciences Campus (AHSC) framework.  Dublin 8 is in a prime position to become the “Silicon Valley” of healthcare in Ireland and we are excited to see how this new collaborative ecosystem can help deliver on this potential and  leverage the AHSC  value of integrating the tri-partite mission of service, education and research/innovation for the benefit of patients, the community and the knowledge economy.   Above all else, the formation of Smart D8 represents a real opportunity to transform the health and wellbeing of the community.”

Owen Keegan, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council, said:

“We are delighted to support the Smart D8 initiative which has such potential to align innovation opportunities with the health & wellbeing needs of the local community. Smart D8 joins other established smart districts in Docklands, DCU Campus and Sandyford where each of them works to a different theme, tailored to the local community and business sectors. Through our Smart Dublin programme, we have seen how this new model of collaboration can accelerate innovation with the right supports and partnerships.  We hope to see some of the best innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs get an opportunity to develop their ideas and grow new businesses in a way that can really benefit local communities and the needs of the district.”

Fiach Mac Conghail, CEO of The Digital Hub, said:

“Smart D8 is a one-of-a-kind project where local residents are going to see tangible benefits through innovation in the health and wellbeing that our programmes will generate. We are looking forward to engaging with as many people as we can throughout the project to continually identify the health concerns in Dublin 8, so that our work can address real needs. The partners to this project bring a range of expertise in healthcare delivery, entrepreneurship and community engagement that combined will prove to be a powerful force.”

The other partners within Smart D8 are the Guinness Enterprise Centre, HSE Digital Transformation, Tyndall National Institute, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Trinity Research & Innovation, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, National College of Art & Design, and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.


For further information, contact:

Andrew Smith | Murray | | +353 83 076 5717
Orla Veale | Smart D8 |

About Smart D8

Smart D8 is a collaborative initiative with the purpose of investigating how new and innovative approaches can be used to improve citizens’ health and wellbeing in Dublin 8.

The Smart D8 District brings together local authorities, academia, healthcare, local community and industry in a partnership model to address real world issues.  The Digital Hub, Smart Dublin, Dublin City Council and St. James’s Hospital are joined by HSE Digital Transformation, Tyndall National Institute, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Trinity Research & Innovation, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, National College of Art & Design, Guinness Enterprise Centre and Health Innovation Hub Ireland as partners in this unique initiative

Smart D8 has engaged with the local Dublin 8 community to identify the major issues faced in terms of health and wellbeing and will develop an ecosystem of innovation and collaboration where solutions can be developed to address these issues.