More than 80 participants mainly from research institutes, universities, start-ups, government representations, life science companies and other healthcare organisations joined the official inauguration of the German EIT Health Research & Education Offices on 10 October 2016 in the recently built Marsilius Arcades in Heidelberg.
Sylvie Bove, CEO of EIT Health, stressed the importance of strengthening the innovation environment, empowering citizens and moving resources towards prevention in order to make healthy lives a reality for all. Jürgen Odszuck, first Mayor of the city of Heidelberg emphasized that Heidelberg is the ideal location for biotechnology, life science research, and health promotion and thus offers the perfect surroundings for EIT Health.
High-level representatives from leading regional life science organisations like NAR – Network Ageing Research of Heidelberg University (Konrad Beyreuther), Marsilius College (Thomas Rausch) or BioRN Cluster and BioMed X Innovation Center (Christian Tidona) further explained the regional health ecosystem including interdisciplinary aspects. Regional corporate Core Partners like AbbVie Deutschland GmbH, Roche Diagnostics GmbH and SAP SE provided the corporate perspective and highlighted their motivation, involvement and collaboration with EIT Health.
During the second day of the gathering on 11 October 2016, the German EIT Health Annual Symposium provided an ideal location for networking and exchanging ideas between partner organisations. The German project leads of the different EIT Health Portfolios (Accelerator, Campus, Innovation Projects) had the opportunity to present their projects and participants of the event got an update about EIT Health activities and cooperation opportunities. Furthermore, the German Head Start projects that have been selected for funding after the 1st and 2nd evaluation cut-off dates showed how start-ups providing new solutions for better healthcare in Europe can be pushed by EIT Health for their innovation value.
Topics of the various presentations covered areas like cancer, diabetes, stroke, dementia, digitallyassisted training in surgery or occupational health management. The participation of Kurt Höller, Director of Business Creation, in the Accelerator panel and of Ursula Mühle, Director of Education, in the Campus panel was highly appreciated by the audience and provided the EIT Health headquarters’ perspective and key insights for the discussion.
A highlight of the Annual Symposium was the inspiring keynote speech of Madi Sharma, CSR Rapporteur and Rapporteur of Personal Healthcare Sector of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC): “Entrepreneurship is about turning ideas into action. By valuing human capital and collaboration, focusing on our community social responsibility and empowering citizens, we will be able to make a difference in order to develop innovative solutions for societal challenges like demographic change.”
Mrs Sharma highlighted that the EESC makes sector specific recommendations as the sector is already well regulated to ensure consumer protection and safety. The recommendations included
- Greater technology convergence between life science engineering, development of genomics, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and the beauty and care sector
- Better collaboration between large and small companies and within bio-technical research
- Strategies to minimise the non-revenue generating period for innovative SMEs
- Greater market intelligence and knowledge transfer between stakeholders to enhance cosmetic innovation and promote individualisation
- Improved opportunities for employment in innovation and NPD
- Resource and waste management strategies for environmental sustainability
- High priority for research into alternatives to animal testing together with regulatory acceptance of proven alternative methods
- New concepts for the engagement of user groups and consumers from NPD to evaluation
- Review of international cooperation to increase accessibility, harmonisation and the promotion of EU standards worldwide to combat fraud.
Highlights of the event were also the keynote speeches of Lykke Friis, Prorector for Education, University of Copenhagen / Former Representative EIT Governing Board Member, Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Science, Research and the Arts and Prof. Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University. Lykke Friis emphasized that there is a tremendous potential in EIT Health, if we focus on education to develop smart and innovation solutions in the areas of healthy living and active ageing. Rector Eitel highlighted that Heidelberg University is spanning the whole range of life sciences and that the combination of different value chains creates the added value. Minister Theresia Bauer pointed out that EIT Health can count on an innovation- and research-friendly eco-system in Heidelberg: “With the EIT Health Research & Education Office, Heidelberg is gaining another institution of cutting-edge research in healthcare. The European network of EIT Health and the work at the interface of education, research and innovation promises important impulses for the knowledge region Rhine-Neckar and thus also for the research location Baden-Württemberg.”
The first German EIT Health Annual Symposium offered an impressive overview of the variety of EIT Health activities and the underlying potential of the EU consortium for the coming years.
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