SPARK program has been proven to be once again a platform for building strategic level collaboration in many levels.
On September 6-7 SPARK Finland co-hosted with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland (MEAE) and Finnish Venture Capital Association (FVCA) an international roundtable event “Promoting research based innovation to the market: Roundtable discussion on key challenges and opportunities in Life science and Health Tech sector“. This was a starting event for the continuum of collaborative activities between participating countries and organizations.
During the two day event there were three underlying questions that steered the discussion:
- What is the current status of health tech and life science industries and ecosystems in Europe and each of participating country?
- What should be done to make health tech and life science industries remarkably more competitive in Europe and these countries?
- In which activities we should work together – on strategic and operational level – to achieve better results?
Alongside with Finnish participants the event bought 12 top tier professionals (see list below the picture) from Australia, Germany, Israel, Norway and European Investment Bank (EIB) to discuss, identify and plan strategic level collaboration for making health tech and life science industries more competitive in Europe and these allied countries.
Representatives of host organizations, Dr Ilona Lundström (Director General at MEAE) and Mrs. Pia Santavirta (Managing Director of FVCA) opened the event and the discussion was boosted by the introductory perspectives by Dr. Pirjo Kutinlahti (Ministerial advisor at MEAE), Dr Risto Renkonen (Dean of faculty of medicine, University of Helsinki), Mr. Aki Prihti (Founding partner at Inveni Capital) and Mr. Tero Silvola (CEO of BC Platforms).
As a final touch on the perspectives Mr Hannu Ahjopalo – former senior top executive at Instrumentarium and GE Healthcare – gave a speech on how was it to build a billion euro company – Instrumentarium – to the global medical technology markets from Finland.
Each country presented also an country based insight on the key challenges and opportunities in life science and health tech sector. What was striking the challenges seemed to be amazingly similar and led to identify three specific areas in which the discussion should focusing on:
- financing of early stage companies and late stage research at universities and hospitals,
- educating the business perspectives for scientists, clinicians and students, and
- industry collaboration for strengthening local and regional ecosystems.
During the two day meeting there were in total 36 professionals – from different disciplines and backgrounds – joining the discussion in different phases. That gave an opportunity to integrate different voices and perspectives into an integrated multi-professional and multi-cultural picture. That enabled to identify what needs to be done to improve the performance of Europe and participating countries, and where are the realistic opportunities for collaboration between these countries.
Our collaborative work continues and calls also all stakeholders – the industry, investors, academic and clinical societies, policy and decision makers… – to join us in the future to make a remarkable leap in the performance of health tech and life science industries. Together.
International visitors at the event were:
Dr Morten Egeberg, Administrative leader UiO:Life Science, University of Oslo, SPARK Norway
Dr Maud Eijkenboom, Executive officer, Accelerating Australia
Mrs Abigail Garner, Design Thinking Specialist, SPARK-Berlin
Dr Craig Garner, Professor, Charite Medical School/ SPARK-Berlin
Mr Gil Granot-Mayer, CEO, Yeda R&D Development Co. Ltd., Weizmann Institute
Dr Jutta Heix, International Advisor, Oslo Cancer Cluster, SPARK Norway
Dr Itai Kela, Head of the Healthtech Sector, Israel Innovation Authority
Mr Ari-Pekka Laitsaari, Senior Investment Officer, European Investment Bank
Mr Kai Mjøsund, Director of Commercialization and Health Industries, Research Council of Norway
Dr Thomas Otto, Professor, SPARK Düsseldorf
Dr Laszlo Pinter, MD at FEBVS Lukaskrankenhaus Neuss, SPARK Dusseldorf
Dr Michael Wallach, Professor, University of Technology Sydney, SPARK Oceania