STA, 13 August 2019 - Japanese and Slovenian partners signed two agreements in Ljubljana on Tuesday that pave the way for cooperation in development and research of robotised rehabilitation devices.
Fujita Health University signed one of the accords with the University of Ljubljana and the other with the Ljubljana-based URI Soča Rehabilitation Institute, and Toyota Motor Corporation.
The signing was attended by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti, who praised it as a major paving stone for further cooperation between Slovenia and Japan in the field.
"Cooperation between Slovenia and Japan has seen tremendous progress in recent years," said Cantarutti, praising the agreements as an "excellent example of cooperation between science and research and business", and a new opportunity to upgrade medical rehabilitation robotics.
Bilateral cooperation was also praised by Japanese Ambassador to Slovenia Masaharu Yoshida, who noted that Fujita Health University was a leading institution in the field in Japan. The university operates Japan's largest university hospital, treating 1.83 million patients a year.
"The agreement signed today will allow us to find a common path in development of rehabilitation robots and, above all, to put them on the market," said Robert Cugelj, director general of URI Soča.
The institute's main goal is to get its expertise and technology into the real world, and sell it. "In this way we generate value added mainly for patients, both those from Slovenia and elsewhere," said Cugelj.
The head of the institute's research and development department, Zlatko Matjačić, presented two projects that formed the basis for cooperation.
One is a rehab robot to train patients how to maintain balance and movement coordination during walking, which is being developed by the Slovenian institute, and the other is a robot developed by Fujita Health University and Toyota.
These are two exoskeletal devices focusing on two different areas. "The Japanese have focused on the leg's function and support during walk, while we're focusing on the integrated function of balance and coordination," Matjačić said.
They would now like to combine their expertise, technology and experience into a now concept to help in the rehabilitation of patients after stroke.
Fujita Health University professor and president Eiichi Saitoh was happy that the university was linking with the world's leading rehabilitation institutions, expressing belief that expertise is expanded and enriched through such cooperation.
Keisuke Suga of Toyota's BR-Medicare hailed the new partnership, which said would help implement Toyota's vision of mobility for all. The department headed by Suga specializes in development and production of devices used in patient rehabilitation.
The Japanese delegation already met Health Ministry State Secretary Simona Repar Bornšek on Monday and will be received along with URI Soča officials by President Borut Pahor on Wednesday.