Speaker intro: Lucien Engelen

1 September 2016

Now that all the faculty members are back from their training and accreditation it is only right to give them a proper introduction. This week we will post an interview a day, each with one of the faculty members introducing us to their subject matter and the research area that they are so passionate about. This time we sat down with Lucien Engelen.

So tell us, who is Lucien?

My name is Lucien Engelen, I’m the director of the REshape Center at the Radboud University Medical Center. REshape is the innovation center where we work on the convergence of technology at one end, and patient empowerment at the other.

I’ve been connected to SingularityU’s Exponential Medicine as faculty member since 2011. I am very glad that we are now able to bring this beautiful organization to the Netherlands. It allows us to share great knowledge and opportunities that are ahead of us so we can tackle grand challenges such as global health.

SingularityU is there to inspire great leaders, in my case that would be patients and healthcare professionals alike, to apply exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges.

What are your expectations of the Summit?

One of the big challenges we currently have is: “How to prepare ourselves at a societal level, for all these technologies that are coming up.” You could literally fill a whole summit with that, and that is exactly what we are going to ignite with the SingularityU Summit in Amsterdam on September 12 and 13. We are going to dive deep into many themes: energy, finance, the maker industry and of course health as well. Not only to inspire people, but to bring them some epiphanies as well, on how to translate this into your own company, into your own life, and into your own goals and challenges. That is what we’re up to.

The main question that I presently have in terms of global health is: “What are we going to do with all this technology that could make almost anything possible?” Where is the new “Bermuda triangle” coming up? Between technology at one end, ethics and philosophy at the other ends. Those will be the questions of the next decade that we will have to face. For that we need to create a great debate, which is exactly what we want to ignite at our Summit on September 12 and 13.


What do you expect people to take away from the summit?

Hopefully one of the takeaways will be that there is a huge positive opportunity coming up. If you as an individual can change a bit of the things that you are doing, as a leader within your company, and thereby contribute to solving some of the grand challenges, that would be the best thing ever. I would really like to see that happen.

A lot of people are being challenged with the “how to” question. They see that great technology is coming up, but how do you translate it to your own company? How do you inspire people within the company to take those next steps? Let alone challenging the business models that we work within!

What I like about this Summit is that it has a bit of a local context. With the very first Innovation Hub outside of the U.S. we see a local flavor coming up. In a Dutch context, we are now able to translate those great challenges, into local solutions. With great speakers and faculty we can address longevity, robotics, energy, cybercrime and of course global health. Of course it is not just about contributing to the local context, but also giving back to the U.S. From there, these ideas can spread more globally.


Why did you decide to join the SingularityU faculty?

It’s really exciting that we now have the opportunity to be ambassadors of change. Change is a permanent theme. To translate that with SingularityU; everybody in the faculty is providing extra content, extra tools, to make a positive change in the lives of people. There are still people in the world who lack clean water, lack proper food, and lack good healthcare. With 5 billion people coming online, we have a great opportunity to take a step forward. Healthcare for example, is becoming more and more delocalized, with all this great exponential technology that is coming up.

As Dutch faculty, we hope to break the grand global challenges into bite size and comprehensible pieces. Consisting of steps that you as a CEO, or as a leader within your company, can implement today. Of course we are able to help companies with that, not only as a consultancy, but also by sharing the knowledge that is being collected globally. It started in the United States, now in The Netherlands, and soon in a lot of other countries in the world.

I’m proud to collaborate with all these great minds. It’s incredible to be able to bring the data, collected from patients, into the hands of those patients themselves. With artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, we are now able to move from spot measurement into continuous measurement, and with that improve the healthcare for these patients. Being able to do that within a global community such as SingularityU is a truly great thing.


Advances in medical devices

What I love about this era is that medical devices and diagnostic tools are becoming smaller and smaller. We are now in an era that tiny earbuds, that fit into my ear, make it possible for me to listen to music, give you a call by telephone and be measured. They can measure my heart rate, skin temperature, oxygenation level and more. Medical devices are entering your everyday life and bring new opportunities for you to take better care of your health.

The funny thing is, people have a lot of data about themselves; bank statements, energy bills etc. The one thing that is lacking however, is access to data about your own health. Healthcare is probably the last sector in society, where we as civilians do not have access to our own data. That is going to change! New technology is giving us the opportunity to collect more data about ourselves, than professionals do. The paradigm shift that comes with that, will bring huge positive opportunities: Healthcare professionals will have to take subscriptions on the data of patients. Patients will be able to have a lot more control over their own lives!

People start to notice that technology is coming in their everyday lives on a daily basis. In the past, big well equipped hospital rooms were needed to do diagnoses and monitoring. Nowadays we see a shift from buildable technology into movable technology. The type of technology that you can put on a table-top. The next step is in terms of wearables, we know that a mobile phone can do a lot more than professional computers could do a generation ago. The step after that is what we see emerging right now. Technology inside of your body, what I would like to call “insideables”. For instance: very small neurologic neural dust, small particles of silicon, could be placed under your skull. These particles would communicate with a small chip and be able to diagnose and monitor your condition. Definitely, the next shift will be towards “insidables”.

How to get there? That is the question that we try to tackle as SingularityU. We combine and bring people together. Then we explain and figure out how we can make this development really happen. On one hand, exponential technology is often the driver of new developments. It is the social component and the communication component that really make the difference. Here as well, technology kicks in: Within the next couple of years, 5 billion people will come online. Just imagine if all those minds connect with each other, online, to tackle some of the great challenges that we are facing as humanity.