The European Commission has awarded a top-up budget of €3.5M to the existing H2020 Innovation Action: Digital Innovation Hubs in Healthcare Robotics as part of the EU response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the objective of DIH-HERO, to accelerate robotics innovation in healthcare across Europe and the extensive expertise of the network concerning healthcare robotics, the Commission considered DIH-HERO as the best candidate to accelerate the innovation and clinical deployment of robotic technology solutions. 


DIH-HERO is an independent platform, which connects multiple Digital Innovation Hubs for healthcare robotics across Europe to create a sustaining network for all those who are active in the healthcare robotics sector. The platform is aimed to significantly leverage added value throughout the entire value chain in the healthcare ecosystem, by sharing knowledge, connecting the right stakeholders, stimulating tailored investments and enable SME to develop global reach. In addition, the pan-European network provides various services concerning technology, business capital and incubation, training and education, certification and go-to market, testing facilities and test centers as well as innovation coaching and funding through open calls.  


By running several calls in the past and launching the ad-hoc fight against COVID-19 emergency call in April 2020 at record-speed, DIH-HERO has proven the strength and importance of this pan-European network, having in place already a fast and efficient mechanism to organise open calls to re-distribute the funding to third parties. The projects that were funded, delivered excellent results within a short time that could be implemented in the clinical setting to unburden the healthcare professionals.  

“We are very proud that in these difficult times, all DIH-HERO partners joint forces to implement this call and accelerate innovation rapidly, in order to support healthcare professionals in the fight against COVID-19″

Maren Bödding (Project Management DIH-HERO) 

The additional top-up awarded budget will be used to remove barriers, making the clinical connection and boost fast, high quality, impactful large-scale deployment of robots in the clinical setting. Therefore, the main focus will be on broad solutions and technologies related to the current situation including response, recovery and support in daily challenges that are still existing due to covid-19 and post covid challenges. Examples include: contactless supply and logistics in the clinical setting, robotic support in fast checks for diagnostics, lifting patients, training devices, social robots, or robotic vaccine delivery.  

Importance of robotics 

Robotic solutions revolutionise the field of healthcare and show their potential in creating targeted and personalized care, provide assistance or comfort, and eliminate human error. In addition, it is expected that in the post-covid situation more tasks will be performed digitally on distance which leads to robotic solutions becoming more and more relevant to reduce the number of physical interactions. 

Deployment of the solutions is a challenge due to a complex, time-consuming trajectory with substantial investments. The main challenge is smooth deployment of new effective robotics-based solutions in clinical settings and support from people with adequate knowledge of clinical centres processes and operations. Acceptance is highly dependent on confidence in handling and visibility of the added value of robotic solutions. Therefore, the awarded top-up budget provides a great opportunity for DIH-HERO to establish further clinical embedding, connection and reducing time to market.  

“We are looking forward to invest the top-up budget to bring a measure of innovation and excellence to establish sustainable robotic solutions with creativity and energy, along with zeal and drive for progress.”

Dr. Françoise J. Siepel (Coordination DIH-HERO) 

DIH-HERO Partners 

The DIH-HERO initiative consists of 17 core partners spread across 11 pan-European countries and is coordinated by the University of Twente, the Netherlands, in collaboration with: CEA, German Aerospace Center (DLR), RWTH Aachen University, Fraunhofer IPA, Politecnico di Milano, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Tecnalia, Eurecat – Technology Centre of Catalonia, Imperial College London, Danish Technological Institute – DMRI, imec, ETH Zurich, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, ETF Robotics – University of Belgrade, Fundacja Rozwoju Kardiochirurgii, Itechnic GmbH.