How might we improve our healthcare ecosystems based on open source medical technology?



Challenge Brief

Our challenge revolves around combining open source and magnetic resonance imaging. Let’s briefly define both: Open source hardware is “hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design.” (Open Source Hardware Foundation. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe, non-invasive and essential medical diagnostic tool. It offers high resolution water based contrasts.

MRI is the gold standard for diagnosing in many clinical applications. Typical applications include accurate lesion detection of ligaments in the knee, detection of brain tumors or breast cancer screening. The technology also is useful outside of the clinic, such as in mechanical engineering to quantify flow, in veterinary medicine, in the food industry or to measure diffusion processes in plants.


Despite the broad variety of applications and the success of MRI, there are problems because of costs and complexity. Throughout the world, many patients don’t benefit from the technology because it’s too costly. One factor for this inequality is the monopolization of the healthcare market with only three companies accounting for over 90% of the global market.


With our Open Source Imaging Initiative (OSI²), we seek to tackle this issue. We are building an affordable open source MR scanner that should be available for around EUR 15 000, which is 10-20x times lower than the current market price of an MR scanner with similar specifications. We believe that an open source approach can democratize the healthcare market, foster more competition and lower prizes, encourage more regional/local development, enable more product customization and innovation and facilitate more knowledge/technology transfer to regions of scarce resources.


Join us to re-imagine our healthcare ecosystems: How might we improve the public healthcare system in Germany by making an affordable open source MRI available? What’s the impact of a transparent technology on different stakeholders such as patients, hospital management, medical doctors, health insurances or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)? How might the medTech and service market be disrupted by open source? Which business models can we create based on open source MRI? How can open source MRI foster innovation? Which novel technologies could be connected to such open systems (IoT, sensors etc.). What are the implications/requirements for product design, quality, reliability, safety and usability?


We want you to think out of the box and the current mindset. Imagine and create a new open source medTech ecosystem with us. We hope to see concrete business models that create and capture value of an open source MRI, long term cost reduction strategies for the public healthcare system, technical innovations and product designs of open source MR systems. Be creative, be bold, have fun!


Collaboration Incentive

There are many reasons for tackling this challenge. We’ll highlight four. First, your contribution helps to shape fair and affordable healthcare globally. Second, you will be mentioned as an author in a publication that will be based on the results of this challenge. Third, we offer paid master thesis available in physics, engineering, computer science at the Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin or in business management, product development, manufacturing at the IWF, TU-Berlin. Finally, the winning team is invited to join a 3D printing workshop at the OpenLab Hamburg to turn your idea into something tangible. Travel expenses from Berlin (train ticket) are covered.