Health systems across the EU can provide an open space for research and innovation if the potential for clinic-industry collaboration is better understood and realised.
The European Innovation Scoreboard 2016 emphasized a well-known fact in Europe: that although the EU is closing the gap with US and Japan, Europe continues to be less innovative than South Korea, the United States and Japan. Too often, new technologies that have been developed in the EU are commercialised elsewhere. Now the economic future of the EU depends on becoming a place where innovation flourishes and where new products and services are being developed.
Much attention here is given to SMEs (see for example the INNOLABS project at www.innolabs.io). But there are other underused assets that can provide a platform for better clinic-industry collaboration. Consider a region that has been de-industrialised and its communities lack a renewed sense of identity and purpose, or a rural region with an ageing population losing its younger people who leave for university or employment opportunities, one of the public services these regions still have is health care services. They are an asset to be more fully leveraged for regional development overall to the benefit of local health economies (as major purchasers of goods and services and as employers) and as regional innovation systems especially. In addition to the public sector’s role in catalyzing innovation in the wider economy, there is an urgent need to power innovation within the public sector itself in order to unlock radical productivity improvements and efficiency gains, to foster the creation of more public value and a better response to societal challenges.
But leveraging assets like regional and local health services, needs a model that informs dialogue between the clinic setting and industry. Dialogue in which the endpoint is improving the quality of patient-centered care. The T-Spectrum (for translational research and medicine) developed by the Harvard Catalyst initiative offers a tested pathway that can help stakeholders in modest and moderate innovator regions work out what they can do together (for more information see Working Paper 1 from the DanuBalt project at http://danubalt.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Health-Innovation-Enablers_Working-Paper-1_v3.pdf )