IBM plans first Watson Health European Centre of Excellence in Italy

Announcement comes as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tours Watson Health global headquarters

IBM has announced plans to launch its first Watson Health European Centre of Excellence in Milan, supporting the government of Italy's initiative to establish an international hub for the advancement of genomics, big data, ageing and nutrition.

The Centre is part of a long-term collaboration between IBM and the government of Italy. IBM plans to invest up to US$150m (€135m) during the next several years and bring together Watson Health data scientists, engineers, researchers and designers to develop a new generation of data-driven healthcare applications and solutions.

Further, the formation of the Centre is intended to encourage the development of a pan-European ecosystem for healthcare reform, research and health-tech start-ups. IBM data scientists, engineers and programmers are expected to work in collaboration with organisations across Europe to create a new class of cloud-based connected solutions at the intersection of cognitive computing, life sciences and healthcare.

The Centre is expected to provide access to resources and technology designed to accelerate research into new treatment options, promote personalised medicine and encourage discoveries aimed at improving overall public health management while advancing sustainable health systems.

‘Italy is important to IBM, not only because of the creativity, skills and talent of the country's workforce, but also because of the government's efforts to digitise Italy's economy,’ said Erich Clementi, Senior Vice President, IBM Europe. ‘That is why we are excited to announce our new Watson Health European Centre of Excellence near Milan, which will support the Italian government's healthcare reform and research agenda by bringing together Watson developers and IBM research scientists to apply remarkable cognitive computing capabilities to modern healthcare problems.’

IBM anticipates that the Centre will tap into the Watson Health Cloud and other offerings, which are designed to help enable individualised insights and a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people's health. The Watson Health cloud platform allows this information to be anonymised, shared and combined with an aggregated view of other health data to, for example, improve the ability of doctors and medical researchers to identify unexpected new drug targets or enable doctors to personalise treatment options for cancer patients.

‘Healthcare is undergoing tremendous change, driven by data. The volume and variation of health data is growing exponentially with each passing day and our ability to monitor new measurements of health — such as social data and weather data — are making global health an even more complex equation to solve,’ said Deborah DiSanzo, General Manager for IBM Watson Health. ‘This new era in health will not be achieved through solitary efforts. It will require the work of countless experts together in an ecosystem in which ideas are easily shared to improve and save lives around the world.’