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Healthcare - Technological Innovations and Economic Success

Final Report Summary - HEALTH-TIES (Healthcare - Technological Innovations and Economic Success)

Executive Summary:

HealthTIES has been a very successful Regions of Knowledge (ROK) project in which some of the strongest European Life Science and Health regions cooperated during the years of 2010 – 2013. The participating regions have been: the Bioregion of Catalunya (ES), Medical Delta (NL), Oxford and Thames Valley (UK) Life Science Zurich (CH), together with the mentoring region of Észak-Alföld (HU).

The main achievements of this EU FP7 funded project have been:

1) the development of a methodology with which regions are able to measure their own innovation strength and specific scientific strengths in a relatively easy but relevant way. These outcomes can also be compared (benchmarked) with other international innovation regions;
2) the insights the regions gained in their international position and their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats;
3) suggestions (sometimes as a best practice in a partnering region) for concrete actions for the regions to undertake to strengthen their innovation power;
4) the establishment of readily available and welcoming international triple helix-based connections that can easily be activated for the purpose of new business opportunities and scientific or educational cooperation.

The insights gained via the analyses and regional visits provided every region with a set of most urgent actions and best practice examples in the partner regions. Examples are the installation of formal triple helix organizations, professionalization of the academic technology transfer office, investing in entrepreneurship education, combined with incubator facilities and an international entrepreneurs in residence program. Also a set of joint actions was identified that will lead to the coupling and integration of some of Europe’s most innovative biotech regions, such as joint public-private R&D, connecting incubators as soft landing sites and encourage the exchange of scientists, entrepreneurs and students.

Lessons that were learned within the project are that innovation in Life Science and Health sector requires a firm dialogue, understanding and cooperation in between the triple helix partners (business, science and government) of one region and at the international level. And that the implementation time of new knowledge can be most effectively influenced by improving this triple helix cooperation in each region, the cooperation in between the clinical trial organisation, the academic technology transfer and by setting up a network of entrepreneurs in residence across the regions. To make Europe world-leading in Life Science and Health innovation, it is essential to attract and train world-class scientists, entrepreneurs and investors. Furthermore it is of the upmost importance to engage the general public in participating in health research by e.g. personal contributions to health data initiatives.

Project Context and Objectives:

A summary description of project context and objectives

Health challenge: HealthTIES addresses Europe’s greatest health challenges for the 21st century: the increasingly ageing population and the sustainability of the healthcare system. Recent governmental studies paint a worrisome picture. With the costs of Europe’s healthcare sector over 10% of its GNP, we will need to find ways to use our limited resources more efficiently and effectively if we are to succeed in improving health for all our citizens. This is a cross-border challenge that requires a collaborative approach.

Third revolution or convergence: True collaboration between medical scientists and engineers, as well as health care providers, industrial partners and regional authorities is currently seen as the key to innovation that will ultimately lead to improved health and sustainable health care. These initiatives have been described as the “third revolution” in healthcare research. HealthTIES is at the forefront of this third revolution by providing a transnational consortium in medical technology. HealthTIES combines four of Europe’s top regions in biosciences, medical technology and health entrepreneurship: Medical Delta (West of the Netherlands), Oxford and Thames Valley, Canton of Zurich, Biocat (Catalonia), and the mentoring region Észak-Alföld in Hungary.

Common goals: We intend to maximise the impact of innovation and RTD (Research and Technological Development) for the benefit of health care. The common goals of the HealthTIES regions are

1) to boost the Healthcare Technology Innovation Cycle.
2) to stimulate joint science, education and state-of-the-art infrastructure in major disease areas

Approach:The project starts to investigate – in a benchmark comparison – the innovation system parameters and best practices per region and an analysis of the scientific strengths at the universities and companies per region. The information will be made visual by developing a web-based Virtual Reference Region followed by a SWOT analysis. Based upon these insights a Joint Action Plan will be constructed and executed during the HealthTIES project period. It is the intention of the HealthTIES partners to continue the cooperation for years after the end of the project (2013) and therefore a construction for continuation will be part of the Joint Action Plan.

Project Results:

A description of the main S&T results/foregrounds

A model for investigating regional strength was developed by the HealthTIES regional innovation experts together. Also for analysing the scientific strengths per region a system was developed and both were executed combined with several visits to each other’s regions to scout for best practices. The analysis resulted in the web-based Virtual Reference Region, which is now available via

Around 30 parameters were defined as quantifiably numbers in order to compare the strength of several aspects for each region of the model depicted in Figure 3. We selected parameters that could be found via publicly available sources and are sufficiently relevant for us to define and implement new actions for our regions. Based upon the insights we were able to create SWOT analyses for all regions. And based upon the analyses we created the regional and joint actions to boost the European innovation power in the life sciences sector that were described in the Business Plan of HealthTIES. The Business Plan also describes why and how the HealthTIES cooperation could be continued after the formal ending of the EU-funded period.

The actions consist of TTO cooperation in between our regions, joint entrepreneurial education and incubator management, joint public-private research projects for which the first ideas are already being discussed. The first FP7 R&D project has actually already started. The first best practice sharing examples have already started: in between Medical Delta and Oxford (science park / incubator) and University Times Higher Education ranking policies (Debrecen University / TU Delft). The partners agreed to keep collaborating to have an impact on the following domains:

- Whereas at the start of HealthTIES not all regions had a mature triple helix organization, now all regions do have one. The HealthTIES projects made all the representatives in the separate regions appreciate the value of such organizations.
- Installation of a strong triple helix based European network of regions specialized in healthcare. The created network will be sustained and extended via new partner program, such as the EIP on Active and Healthy Ageing and possibly the KIC for healthy living and active ageing. Also the partner regions agreed to keep on using the Virtual Reference Region and the IT systems behind it such as the Biotechgate.
- The regions are currently exploring how to set up a cooperative health bank data initiative at the European level. This will heavily involve and empower the general public into their own healthcare and into health research.
- Joint programs in education, research (e.g. Horizon2020) and incubation will increase the international scope of innovation at the European level.

Potential Impact:

We expect that the HealthTIES Joint Action Plan will lead to the delivery of more healthcare products and services for the EU citizens and jobs within the life science and medtech companies of our regions. In Deliverable 8.3 ‘Report on awareness and wider societal implications’ the impact is described.

The dissemination activities of the HealthTIES partners is described in Deliverable 8.2 ‘Final Dissemination Plan’.

List of Websites:

The address of the project website is