IBM Watson, Finland partner to boost innovation, personalized medicine

IBM Watson

IBM and Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, are partnering to use IBM’s Watson to boost innovation and the business ecosystem in Finland’s health sector.

Through the collaboration, IBM Finland seeks to raise the quality and lower the costs of the Finnish healthcare system, increase investment in Finland, create jobs and develop solutions that can be exported globally, said Tuomo Haukkovaara, general manager of IBM Finland, in a statement.

Tekes expects the partnership to spur the creation of new startups in Finland and help Finnish companies find opportunities to expand globally. It also anticipates the deal will drive the digitalization of the country’s healthcare industry, according to the statement.

“In Finland, the close collaboration among health-tech companies, top-notch researchers and world-class hospitals has created a strong health eco-system, called the ‘Health Valley’,” said Tekes Director General Pekka Soini, in the statement. “I am positive that Watson cognitive computing capabilities will further boost innovation in Finland and put Finland at the forefront of game-changing health transformation, at the European level and in the global marketplace.”

As part of the partnership, IBM will set up a Watson Health Center of Excellence in Finland as well as the first Nordic Healthcare Competence Center and the first National Imaging Center of Excellence outside the U.S., IBM said in the statement. These centers are expected to create 150 jobs over the next few years. They will use IBM’s cognitive offerings via the Watson Health Cloud to facilitate “individualized insights” in personalized medicine and paint a more complete picture of patient health, IBM said.

This partnership is just the latest in a string of IBM Watson collaborations. Most recently, IBM teamed up with the American Diabetes Association to apply cognitive computing to clinical and research data. And earlier this year, it partnered with a Wisconsin cancer treatment center on matching patients to clinical trials.