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Health Competence in Europe

Final Report Summary - HEALTHCOMPETENCE (Health Competence in Europe)

Executive Summary:
The projects funded by the European Commission (EC) represent a considerable part of the health research conducted in Europe. Access to high-quality information on these research activities and results is therefore critical for successful planning and decision making at universities, research organisations and funding agencies, and hence for improving collaborations, research performance and innovation capabilities. The purpose of HealthCompetence.eu is to ensure a continuous quality assurance and access to this information.

HealthCompetence.eu is a pan-European Research Information System making key information accessible on all projects funded by the EC within Health Science in the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). The system is an open source of information for the stakeholders, such as project coordinators, scientists, technology transfer officers, research administrators, policy makers & programme managers within academia, industry, the EC and other funding agencies. HealthCompetence.eu serves in this way to support the stakeholders in their efforts to find collaboration partners, do benchmarking, analyse networks, make research performance assessments and get answers to European policy issues.

A key challenge is to collect all the information and continuously keep it correct and up-to-date. The approach is therefore based on the basic principle of reusing as much information as possible, and in parallel provide benefits on all levels, from the individual researcher to the management level at the EC.

HealthCompetence.eu reuses information from a row of sources, with project information from the EC as a starting point. To include information on the projects’ results HealthCompetence.eu is connected to PubMed and other online sources. This information is then quality assured through validation processes on different levels, from the individual researcher to the EC. HealthCompetence.eu gives in this way research organisations and individual researchers, both within Europe and internationally, versatile possibilities to access and reuse the most complete and accurate information available on EC-funded projects.

Parts of the information on the projects, and thereto associated publications, patents, technology offers, persons and organisations, are made available over the public web where the information can be googled or found by drilling down through thematic areas.

A reporting module includes selected parts of the project information and enables reports to be generated based on the projects for individual organisations and researchers, benchmarking per thematic area as well as collaboration analyses on selected partner organisations and regions.

Researchers can also become individual members in HealthCompetence. They can then log in to the system to retrieve and add, validate and use data on their projects, publications, patents and technology offers. In this way they can enhance their profile both in the public part and in the reports. They also have access to additional functionality, e.g. to generate their CV and make exports of their information for reuse in other systems.

Organisations that want to exploit the information further can become institutional member. For an annual fee the organisation will get its own local system, connected with the central HealthCompetence.eu. The local system can, if desired, be extended to include any other type of research information, and can be connected to any internal system like HR and Finance. Through the connection to HealthCompetence.eu and the validations made in the local system, the institutional member organisations will be part of a continuous and sustainable infrastructure for updating and quality assuring the information on EC-funded projects and their results.

Project Context and Objectives:
Through the many research projects funded by the EC a steady stream of research results is being produced. The knowledge contained in and generated through these projects represents a considerable part of the health research in Europe.

While the project results get disseminated through various means, there is an untapped opportunity in using key information on the projects and their results for monitoring and facilitating the access to the competencies of participating organisations and researchers. This gap was to a large extent addressed by the FP6-funded project LifeCompetence, which resulted in an online tool and methods to quality assure the available data enabling its users to analyse collaborations, identify key players within different thematic areas and get an improved access to key information on all FP6 Life Science and Health projects.

The LifeCompetence tool (http://www.lifecompetence.eu) was developed by AVEDAS in collaboration with Karolinska Institutet and EuropaBio. Beyond the funding of LifeCompetence, which ended at the beginning of 2008, AVEDAS kept the online tool operational and openly accessible for everyone and LifeCompetence grew to a very popular public service. It was being used by project coordinators, scientists, technology transfer officers, policy makers and programme managers within academia, industry and the European Commission to find collaboration partners, do benchmarking, analyse networks and get answers to European policy issues.

These key stakeholders have, in connection with the work in LifeCompetence, expressed their highly prioritised needs to extend the content of LifeCompetence in order to leverage the benefits and value created for them in their monitoring and innovation management efforts. This led to establishing HealthCompetence as a follow-up project to continue to address the following challenges from LifeCompetence:

• Regular collection of key information on all EC funded projects, including the development of tools and processes to make regular updates of the information.

• Tools, methods and processes to correct and complete the information on the organisations, and to a large extent also on the involved persons. This is a prerequisite to enable analyses of high quality, as names are spelt differently and there are incorrect or unknown organisation types and regional affiliations.

• Concept and technical solution for “making competencies accessible” both over a public web platform and a reporting module.

• Marketing the web platform turning it to a popular tool supporting the European Life Science and Health Research Community.

Based on the needs expressed by the stakeholders, HealthCompetence needed to both broaden and deepen the scope and results achieved in LifeCompetence.
In short, HealthCompetence served to also address new and unsolved challenges described through the following:

1. EU project participation only provides one part of the “competence” profile of organisations and researchers. To make the competence profiles more complete, we have integrated information on the projects’ results in terms of publications, patents and technology offers.

2. The projects are initially not related to a thematic structure, apart from the Activity codes, which is a nested structure with e.g. cancer research projects found within many different activity codes. The projects and their results have therefore been related thematically to the UMLS structure in order to enable analyses per “research area” and “disease area”. This also enables context related information to be shown in a greater extent to the users by presenting a list of similar projects when looking at a project, or a list of organisations and researchers with similar competence profiles when looking at a specific profile.

3. In the project data from the EC we only have information on one person, usually the Principal Investigator (PI), per partner and project. As we want to make as much as possible of the competence base within the projects accessible, and this is not possible to find out through any automatic means, we have opened the system up to allow all researchers that are involved in the projects to login and become visible in HealthCompetence.

4. The basic requirements for quality assurance were solved in LifeCompetence, and further improvements were achieved through the use of the Participant Identification Code (PIC) in FP7, but the Quality Assurance of the data remained one of the most challenging and complex issues. Apart from sustaining the initial methods for improving the data quality, a row of unsolved quality assurance aspects were also addressed in HealthCompetence related to the continuous updating of all changes made to the projects over their life time. The challenge solved in HealthCompetence was to set up a validation and approval process. The validation process was elaborated not only to ensure a high data quality, but also ensure added value and benefits for the users. As an example, the validation process serve to facilitate for the project coordinators in the EC funded projects to compile their reports, such as “Use and dissemination of Foreground” where the publications and other outputs related to the project shall be reported on.

5. A new model was developed to ensure that the costs are covered in a long-term perspective and that HealthCompetence also stays operational beyond FP7 and the EC funding that HealthCompetence received.
The following section describes the objectives that HealthCompetence was set out to address, all of which now have been achieved.

Objectives

The objective of HealthCompetence is to develop, implement and operate a web-based Monitoring Tool that continuously quality assures and makes key information on FP7 funded projects related to Health, including thereto related competencies and results, openly accessible to the key stakeholders on EC funded projects. The purpose is to leverage the research investments made by the EC by supporting increased collaboration between academia and industry.

To achieve this objective, HealthCompetence has the following concrete sub objectives:

• Set-up a project management structure and development methods that integrate all the key stakeholders and enable the assessment and integration of their needs to ensure that the Monitoring Tool achieves the expected benefits and becomes well-anchored in the European Life Science and Health research community.

• Connect HealthCompetence to the EC data warehouse, and if this possibility will not be offered by the EC, continue with regular file downloads, to integrate selected key information on all approved grant proposals within all themes of FP6 and FP7

• Connect HealthCompetence to public databases to enable researchers and administrators to automatically retrieve, store and efficiently reuse data on their research results in terms of publications, patents and technology offers in order to reduce their current workload and support that the information gets quality assured and related to the projects.

• Make selected parts of the information on all the FP6 and FP7 Health related projects and thereto related publications, patents, technology offers, persons and organisations available over a public web platform with a thematic navigation structure providing an overview of the information per research area and disease area to facilitate access to the information and exploitation of the results.

• Make selected parts of the information on the FP6 and FP7 Health related projects possible to analyse over a Reporting module in order to answer the most important questions expressed by technology transfer experts, research managers, EC representatives and the other key stakeholders on EC funded projects.

• Open HealthCompetence up for all FP6 and FP7 participants and enable them, based on validation processes and quality assurance mechanisms, to login and add, edit and manage their research information to broaden the base of competencies made available and further strengthen the impact HealthCompetence is expected to have on facilitating the establishment of new research collaborations.

• Implement at least in five individual research organisations their own Local System interfaced with HealthCompetence to ensure a continuous and sustainable infrastructure for updating and quality assuring the information on EC-funded projects.

• Market HealthCompetence as a one-stop-shop for accessing information on competencies, tools and technologies within European life science and health research.

All of these objectives have been achieved. In this way, HealthCompetence contributes to making all past, ongoing and future FP6 and FP7 projects related to Life Science and Health visible and accessible, along with their research results and related research competencies.

Project Results:
The overall key result is the platform HealthCompetence.eu which is based on the Converis Research Information System. The platform has been tailored to meet the objectives set up for the project, and includes:

• a public web Research Portal where anyone can search for and find potential collaborators.

• Reporting possibilities as a Monitoring Tool covering all health related EC funded research.

• regular data quality approvements and imports to update the project information.

• a thematic classification (UMLS) and association automatically of the projects with this structure.

• Local Systems implemented with links to HealthCompetence.

• Possibility for individual researchers to get an account and manage their profile in HealthCompetence, including publications, patents and technology offers (with links to online sources, like PubMed and ORCID).

These S & T results are based on the functionality provided by Converis. The specific results for the project include the above listed customization done through configuration in several releases of the system, including a HealthCompetence.eu specific graphical design, reports, workflows, templates, data model, etc. as well as a data quality improved data set on all Health related FP7 projects, and a matching algorithm for identifying HealthCompetence relevant projects based on all EC funded projects.
Potential Impact:
Expected impact of the call topic: ”The monitoring tool provided and the related analysis will help policy makers and programme managers to define new research policy objectives by monitoring intermediate performance targets for FP7.”

How HealthCompetence contributes to the achievement of the expected impact:

The HealthCompetence Monitoring tool includes a completely flexible way of selecting the information to be used for generating each report or analysis. The selection criteria enable the report to be limited to e.g. a (group of) organisation(s), a certain time period, instrument/project type, organisation type (in particular SMEs), region/country, research area, disease area or activity code. This means that the user can decide him/herself what question the report should answer.

Together with the key stakeholders, among others the Commission services, a needs assessment was carried out to ensure that the output and result tables when generating the report include answers to their policy questions and indicators for the performance targets.

The resulting reports hereby, among others, include information on the number of funded projects, the amount of funding for the projects, number of partners per organisation type, a list with key information on all projects matching the analysis, development over time seen to number of projects and approved funding, the researchers involved, results obtained, organisations involved and with whom they collaborate and how much, the number of projects and funding per area, etc. This also includes illustrations on collaboration patterns, the development over time and research strengths.

Expected impact of the call topic: “The mapping of health research competencies in the European Research Area is expected to stimulate collaboration among different players in Health research, in particular academia, SMEs and larger companies.”

How HealthCompetence contributes to the achievement of the expected impact:

To stimulate collaboration between the different players, the research competencies need to be described in as a complete way as possible and made easily accessible.

In HealthCompetence, the “research competencies” are described based on the principle of reusing existing information and relating it to researchers and organisations. In LifeCompetence this was limited to the FP6 LSH projects and only one researcher per partner organisation (as this is a limitation in the data from the EC). By looking at the projects a researcher or organisation is involved in it is possible to get an idea of their competencies.

In HealthCompetence the “competence profile” has been extended and made more complete by offering the users the possibility to add key information on publications, patents and technology offers. Thereto, the researchers can be related to all EC projects they are involved in, not only the ones where they are mentioned in the EC contract. They also have the possibility to complete their own person information, with a research description, CV, photo, etc.

To make the competencies accessible, HealthCompetence offers on the one hand a public web platform and on the other hand a reporting module. In the public web platform the information can be searched for through a search engine or by browsing through research areas and disease areas to which the information has been mapped. For each area an overview is given of the thereto related FP7 health related projects and the involved researchers, organisations and results in terms of publications, patents and technology offers. In this way the user can rapidly get an overview of the researchers involved in e.g. cancer research, and then by looking further on the researchers’ profiles identify which of them that may be most suitable for a joint collaboration.

The reporting module offers similar possibilities to identify researchers and organisations suitable for collaboration, but out of a more analytical perspective. In the reporting module the user can also rapidly get an overview of the researchers and organisations active within e.g. cancer research, but additionally how many projects they have compared to others (is it a “top player” within this area?), how they are embedded in networks (central or peripheral actor, smaller or larger projects, research or collaboration projects) and who their collaboration partners already are (only academia, or also industry and SMEs), what their development looks like over time (upward or downward trend). This supports the user to understand which partners that match his/her needs the best.

Thus, HealthCompetence addresses all aspects of the mentioned call topic, but sets its scope to a level beyond to ensure the sustainability of its results and expected impacts.

Furthermore, HealthCompetence serves to contribute to the achievement of the expected impacts as described in the work programme. The expected impacts and HealthCompetence contributions are described on the following three different levels:

• Impacts on the Health Theme, i.e. on the FP7 Health projects and their results.

• Impacts on the European Health research community, i.e. on the different stakeholders involved in research and innovation.

• Impacts on the European Research Area (ERA), i.e. on the objectives of the ERA initiative.

Impact on the Health Theme

The overall objective of the Health Theme is to “improve the health of European citizens and increase the competitiveness and boost the innovative capacity of European health related industries and businesses”.

HealthCompetence, as a Coordination and Support Action across the Health theme, primarily addresses these objectives indirectly by “contributing to the implementation of the Framework Programmes and the preparation of future Community research and technological development policy”. The focus of HealthCompetence is however directly on technology transfer and strengthening its means to “increase competitiveness and boost the innovative capacity” of European Health research.

The access to knowledge and competencies is the foundation for new technology start-ups and the growth of multinationals that continuously need to provide the markets with new and improved products. The researchers and partner organisations in the Health projects, belong to the most important producers of new knowledge in European health research. In order to increase the application and commercialisation of the research results, and facilitate research collaboration, the access to this information needs to be improved.

This is done by implementing and operating the Monitoring Tool in a way making the information on the projects accessible to everyone over the internet and providing reporting possibilities that support technology transfer activities and provide answers to policy issues, including a special focus on answering questions relevant to SMEs. This turns the knowledge and competence resources into an accessible resource pool for new research projects and collaborations. Additionally, the implementation process of HealthCompetence includes the integration of Local Systems introducing a more systematic management of research activities and results among the target groups, thus assuring the sustainability of the results and that the use of the resource pool becomes part of the daily working routines and activities.

HealthCompetence does in this way have a positive impact on the Health Theme, as projects within the Health Theme are equipped with a new resource for establishing new research collaborations. This includes for example:

• Increased collaboration between academia and industry. Through the Monitoring Tool the projects, their results and underlying competencies are made thematically accessible per research area and disease area, which facilitates the identification of collaboration partners, people to recruit or existing projects to engage with for both academia and industry, including SMEs. Thereto, new possibilities are opened up through the analyses as they provide information on policy issues and thereby give the Commission support on how they proactively can take action to further facilitate the “best” collaboration. The long-term effects of HealthCompetence and an improved collaboration process between academia and industry, will also benefit the overall objectives of the Health Theme as new medicines and other products may be developed and reach the market sooner.

• Increased international and multidisciplinary cooperations, as well as a more complementary mix of competencies and professionally adapted resources to the project needs, in current and future consortia. The thematic access to the competencies in the Health Theme, over the Monitoring Tool, facilitates the process for grants offices and project coordinators to find, assess and access the needed competences for their consortium.

• More efficient dissemination of the results. The project results in terms of publications, patents and technology offers are made thematically accessible through the Monitoring Tool. This does hence benefit all the FP7 projects and the involved researchers.

Impact on the European Health Research community

As a Coordination and Support Action making the competencies within the Health Theme more accessible, and with the purpose to strengthen the research collaboration, exploitation and dissemination of the competencies and research results, HealthCompetence addresses the needs of many stakeholders in European health research. The impact HealthCompetence has on the European Health Research community can therefore be described by the benefits and value each stakeholder is expected to get through the project. The key stakeholders include project coordinators, scientists, technology transfer officers, policy makers and programme managers within academia, SMEs, larger companies and the European Commission.

• Policy makers and programme managers at the EC and national funding agencies:

- Evaluate policy issues, including SME participation, based on more quality assured and up-to-date information than any other available source.

- Analyse any possible modalities of the FP7 grants, including network & collaboration analyses, benchmarking, performance, development over time and other trends.

- Monitoring possibilities and increased transparency of the funding, e.g. per research area and disease area, to increase synergies of national vs. European funding programmes (as well as with NIH).

• Technology Transfer officers:

- Increased visibility of own technology offers over the web-based Monitoring Tool.

- Opportunity for large as well as small research organisations, down to organisations with one-person-TTOs, to provide information on their transferrable research results without having to invest in a separate IT infrastructure.

- Possibility to access consolidated publicly available information on technology offers and patents in a standardized format.

- Support with internal workflows for handling technology offers, agreements, patenting and other technology transfer issues.

- Monitoring possibilities of tech transfer aspects, such as screening activities.

• Management in academia

- Evaluate in which networks to participate by analysing collaborations.

- Support recruitments and identifying suitable collaboration partners by easily getting an overview of the key players in desired, strategic areas.

- Rapidly answer day-to-day administration questions, such as “what joint projects with other organisations, regions or countries”.

- Assess the own research performance and identify strengths as support for planning and new strategic initiatives as well as proactively market the own capacities and establish collaborations with industry.

- Reduced workload for researchers and administrators through the reuse of information.

• SMEs and larger companies:

- Identify tools, technologies and other technology offers to support own research activities.

- Find and assess key players (organisations and researchers) within disease areas for recruitment or establishing joint collaborations.

• Coordinators, researchers and other members of EC funded projects:

- Increased reuse of existing information for a more effective elaboration of reports towards the EC (e.g. on deliverables, all publications and technology offers resulting out of the project, etc.) and hence reduced workload compared to traditional, manual registration of information.
- Identify researchers with needed competencies for new grant proposals as well as identification of SMEs & larger companies for new collaborations.

- Increase the visibility of research groups, researchers and students, and their research and produced results per research area and disease area.

- Increased, multiple reuse of the information for other grant proposals, CVs, public web presentation, etc.

The combined experience of the project partners in the fields of technology transfer, research information management, system development, innovation management, health research and project management has ensured that the key stakeholders rapidly got to access the Monitoring Tool and started to deliver against the benefits as described above.

In short, HealthCompetence provides a unique opportunity to leverage the development of applied research and technology for the new economic and social challenges targeted by the EU. The HealthCompetence Consortium sees the possibility to boost this potential impact and regards this project as a key resource for current and future FP7 Health projects.

Impact on the European Research Area (ERA)

The European Research Area (ERA) initiative taken in 2000 by the EU is aimed at, among other things, enable researchers to benefit from world-class infrastructures and work with excellent networks of research institutions to contribute to global development and take a leading role in international initiatives to solve global issues.

The realisation of the ERA is a challenging concept that only can be achieved through a consistent approach and a viable long-term strategy. HealthCompetence supports this strategy by primarily addressing the first aspect of the concept, namely the creation of an "internal market" in research. HealthCompetence supports the creation of an area of free movement of knowledge, researchers and technology by making the competencies in the Health research community more visible and accessible. This will have a positive impact on cooperation, stimulation of competition and the achievement of a better allocation of resources.

Furthermore, the ERA objectives are to be achieved through the support of the best research in open European, national and regional research programmes addressing major challenges together. Among the strong potential barriers at national and institutional levels is the lack of a shared methodology and classification of thematic areas to be used for analysis. The HealthCompetence Consortium has implemented modern methodology and new thematic structuring technology to make the information related to research areas and disease areas. This supports the collaboration between national funding agencies as well as with the EC, and the elaboration of joint strategies to find synergies and increasing the impact of research funding towards the ERA objectives.

Spreading excellence, exploiting results, disseminating knowledge

The exploitation of the results was done throughout the project in parallel to all other implementation activities, and focused on the continuous operation of the Monitoring Tool. The use of the Monitoring Tool is supported through various means, and this is where the benefits and values are generated towards the key stakeholders as they can get their questions answered through different analyses and desired competencies can be found to facilitate the initiation of new collaborations.
To maximise the exploitation, and thereby the value of the results, HealthCompetence needs to attract a maximum of users. The activities to disseminate the results also run throughout the project, but with the main purpose to market the Monitoring Tool towards the key stakeholders. The dissemination activities are divided into the categories “Marketing” and “Sustainability”.

Marketing

The Monitoring Tool has been marketed towards the key stakeholders already from the beginning of the project. This dissemination has been done through the wide networks and partnerships of the Consortium, thus using existing marketing channels. Key in the dissemination strategy is constituted by the EFB’s access to national health associations, research organisations, industry and other key players within European Health research. The Monitoring Tool was made widely known within the Health research community through the following means:

• HealthCompetence is completely public and accessible to everyone over the internet. A section is dedicated to describe the project as such including its objectives, partners and activities.

• Newsletters have been sent out on a regular basis informing subscribing users about new projects, results of certain analyses and more general news on HealthCompetence as such.

• Articles on HealthCompetence have been presented in EFB’s own journal “New Biotechnology” on a regular basis. The journal is distributed in over 4.000 samples.

• Press-releases have been sent out to online and offline journals relevant to the key stakeholders in European Health research.

• Work has been done with the EC on joint activities and gaining support for marketing and dissemination activities like press-releases, conferences and events where HealthCompetence was presented.

• Presentation of the Monitoring Tool by EFB and the other partners at selected, but important conferences and exhibitions.



Sustainability

To ensure that the results are possible to exploit also beyond the end of the EC funding of HealthCompetence, the work on making the solution sustainable started early in the project. A business model was defined, which includes a sponsorship programme.

A key issue in the project is the implementation of Local Systems. This is part of a specific exploitation strategy to ensure that the key stakeholders: project coordinators, technology transfer offices and researchers in academia and industry get the results integrated in their daily working routines.

List of Websites:
www.healthcompetence.eu

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