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Yesterday Europe’s leading health technology regions launched the HealthTIES consortium to strengthen their research potential through collaborative networks of universities, research centers, companies and public administrations. The consortium will be funded for three years by the Regions of Knowledge initiative of the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program (7FP). The members comprise Medical Delta (the Netherlands), Life Science Zurich (Switzerland), Oxford & Thames Valley (the UK), Biocat (Catalonia) and, as a mentoring region, Észak-Alföld (Hungary).

From science to the market

The 21st century has brought major health challenges: an ageing population and untenable public healthcare systems. These demand concerted effort and major advances in innovation.

The new consortium will endeavor to accelerate the health care innovation cycle. The clusters in the member regions are already combining clinical research with information technology and engineering, through work drawing on industry, public administrations and consolidated science parks. To determine how to speed up the conversion of ideas into a products (i.e. bringing science to the market), HealthTIES members will analyze their capacities, policies and R&D needs. The results of these analyses will then be addressed by the participating clusters.

Health-TIES will also stimulate collaborations in research, training and infrastructure. It will include an exchange program for researchers and students. This program will include entrepreneurial training through joint education programs.

Four main therapeutic areas

Technology is becoming increasingly important for addressing health challenges. HealthTIES will be focused on four therapeutic areas: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and infectious diseases. The latest scientific and technological advances in the molecular study, imaging, design, development and delivery of drugs have opened up a world of new and interesting opportunities. The consortium will apply these technologies to the four health areas mentioned above.

HealthTIES will involve end users (physicians and patients) in the development of new technologies. The new practices generated from this work will be shared among members and with other European regions.

Health-TIES members

HealthTIES brings together five regions with a strong combined presence in medical technology R&D:

  • Biocat (Catalonia): is an agency that coordinates, stimulates and promotes biotechnology, biomedicine, and medical technology in Catalonia, the main bioregion in Spain. It foments relationships and synergies among the bioregion’s players, which include more than 350 companies (biotech, pharma, med-tech, and services for these sectors); 400 life science research groups; 60 related research centers; nine science and technology parks that work in these areas; nine universities offering life sciences studies; and six major research hospitals. Biocat aims to create an efficient and dynamic technology transfer system, consolidate these sectors as a driving force of the economy and amplify their role in society. 
  • Medical Delta (western Netherlands): is a research-centered cluster that connects two universities (Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam) with their respective medical centers, together with Delft Technology University, some 400 companies, Leiden Bio Science Park and Science Port Holland, incubators, the province of South Holland, and the cities of Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam. Medical Delta integrates science, business and education at different levels and with active feedback. 
  • Oxford & Thames Valley (England, UK): is the principal life sciences research and training cluster in southeastern England, the fastest growing region in the UK, with a population of 8.3 million, 22 associated universities, and more than 1,000 companies. The cluster strives to improve health results by combining top notch translational research with first class hospital care. It is formed by three prestigious members: University of Oxford, Oxfordshire Economic Partnership and Oxford Gene Technology.
  • Life Science Zurich (Switzerland): one of the three main Swiss life sciences clusters, it is structured as a triangle whose angles represent academia, industry, and economic development of the Canton of Zurich. The cluster encompasses more than 90 world renowned research institutes, ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Zurich, the University of Zurich, and 26 hospitals. Life Science Zurich endeavors to strengthen interactions among life sciences players both locally and internationally.
  • Észak-Alföld (Hungary): the fifth region in the HealthTIES consortium, its role will be that of a mentoring region. This region ranks among the top in Hungary for R&D investment and professionals. It includes the University of Debrecen, which has strong life sciences facilities, and a privileged environment for cooperation among clusters, companies and investors. Lastly, it is part of an initiative to create a large pharmaceutical cluster in Hungary, as part of the New Hungary development plan.
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