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SmartSleep Lab opens up new avenues for sleep research in Kuopio

SmartSleep Lab is a new research laboratory to be set up in the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland. Relying on the principles of open science, the laboratory will provide a unique setting for sleep research and a versatile testbed for the health technology sector.

The concept of an open data laboratory developed for R&D&I and teaching purposes strengthens Kuopio’s position as one of the most relevant centres for sleep research in Europe. Focusing on the measurement of sleep, alertness and physiological functions while relying on the principles of open science, the unique laboratory has nationwide novelty value. The laboratory will enable faster product development, testing and validation of various health technology products, as well as prototype testing and clinical validation of health technology companies’ products. The laboratory also assists companies operating in the health technology sector in regulatory processes concerning medical devices. The laboratory will be hosted by the Kuopio Campus of the University of Eastern Finland.

The laboratory will work closely with Kuopio University Hospital, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, and the various disciplines of the University of Eastern Finland. The project also involves the Kuopio Health innovation ecosystem and several companies operating in the region.

“People are increasingly interested in the quality of their sleep and in measuring their recovery. At the same time, awareness of the most common sleep disorders and their serious consequences is increasing, which can be seen, for example, in the increasing number of referrals to sleep apnoea studies. Various portable and wearable AI devices could enable the measurement and monitoring of large population cohorts; however, most wearable measurement solutions and applications are not approved for medical use,” Project Manager, Postdoctoral Researcher Samu Kainulainen from the University of Eastern Finland says.

“In addition, data-intensive specialised fields of medicine, such as sleep medicine and radiology, are in a major transition. Measurement and data processing methods are developing rapidly, and scientific and clinical validation of these methods is of primary importance. At the same time, health care professionals working with these methods must be offered professional development training in the use of new technologies and methods.”

SmartSleep Lab seeks to respond to these needs with a set of laboratories that is detached from clinical work but still meets the standard quality and safety requirements set for clinical sleep research laboratories. In addition to enabling the measurement of sleep and alertness, the set of laboratories includes a test laboratory where new physiological measurement methods can be tested and compared to those in clinical use.

“SmartSleep Lab strengthens the already diverse R&D&I environment for health and well-being in Savilahti, as well as services that increase cooperation between companies and R&D&I organisations in order to create new innovations and businesses,” says Kuopio Health’s CEO Aki Gröhn.

The laboratory is based on the principles of open science, and the aim is to share measurement data with the scientific and business communities. In the future, the laboratory will also enable extensive multidisciplinary research projects at the regional, national and international levels.

“SmartSleep Lab is an important opening as it effectively supports business activities related to health technology, scientific research in the field, and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods. The SmartSleep Lab project is a great example of close cooperation between the hospital, the university, the university of applied sciences, and companies,” says Professor Juha Töyräs, Research and Innovation Director at Kuopio University Hospital.

The project will begin in August 2021. The Regional Council of North Savo granted the project a two-year ERDF funding from the REACT- EU recovery instrument as part of the EU's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall budget of the project is approximately 430,000 euros, of which the Regional Council of North Savo contributes 70%.

For further information, please contact:
Samu Kainulainen, samu.kainulainen (a) uef.fi

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