Building regional innovation capacity
The overall cost of the European health care sector is extremely high, at over 10 % of the gross national product. Recent government studies point to an ageing population and an unsustainable healthcare system as the two major challenges. Funded by the EU, the 'Healthcare - Technological innovations and economic success' (HEALTH-TIES) project aimed to maximise the impact of research and innovation on health care in the EU. Several regions participated in this initiative, namely the Bioregion of Catalunya, the Medical Delta in the Netherlands, Oxford and the Thames Valley in the United Kingdom, Life Science Zurich in Switzerland and Eszak-Alföld in Hungary. Project partners aimed to catalyse the innovation cycle by forming so-called triple-helix organisations — i.e. partnerships between government, academia and industry that leverage a region's specific strengths. To do this, they first built a model for investigating regional strengths and weaknesses, called the Virtual Reference Region. Thirty parameters were chosen for this model based on publically available data, allowing a comparison of strengths between regions. This comparison allowed for the development of a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis for each region. HEALTH-TIES used the outcomes to create action plans to boost innovation in each region, covering technology transfer agreements, entrepreneurial incubators and training, and public–private research partnerships. The end result of HEALTH-TIES is a strong triple-helix organisation in each region to support and speed up further innovation, as well as robust connections between regions.This may in turn lead to improvements in European health care in the long-term.
Health care, innovation, regional organisation, triple-helix organisation