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EU consortium to speed up innovations in the healthcare sector

EIT Health is a large-scale European project launched in December 2014 that aims to help people in Europe to live a healthier life and stay active as they grow older. The consortium brings together 140 leading companies and institutions from 14 European countries and has a total budget of two billion euros. It is one of the largest networks worldwide in the healthcare sector.

EIT Health's aim is to promote health-related innovations in cooperation with leading research institutions around the world. © EIT Health

Seven years ago, the European Parliament established the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The Institute is based in Budapest (Hungary) and its objective is to promote cross-border research, development, education and entrepreneurship. Five so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) have since been created. EIT Health is the latest of these.

EIT Health's aim is to promote entrepreneurship and bring health-related innovations to market more rapidly. “EIT Health provides support to scientists and entrepreneurs so that ideas can be turned into marketable commodities faster,” says Dr. Ursula Redeker, who was the main coordinator and ad interim CEO of the European innovation network until late August 2015. She is now the spokesperson of the executive board of Roche Diagnostics GmbH and member of the EIT Health supervisory board. 

The structures are in place

The European EIT Health network aims to help people in Europe to live a healthier life and stay active as they grow older. © EIT Health

After the launch of EIT Health in December 2014, Redeker and her colleagues set about creating the necessary structures to be able to implement the first projects in 2016. The German Co-location Centre (CLC), which is operated by German EIT Health GmbH, has its administrative offices on the Roche Diagnostics GmbH campus in Mannheim and its education and research facilities on Heidelberg University's Neuenheimer Feld campus. Five other national CLCs have also been established in Belgium/Netherlands, France, Great Britain/Ireland, Scandinavia and Spain.

The European EIT Health headquarters are in Munich, Germany, where the organisation’s new CEO, Sylvie Bove, has her office. Six other regional centres have been set up across Europe and have the potential to become Co-location Centres. These so-called Innostar regions are: Wales, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.

EIT Health strategy is based on three activity areas:

Campus: Innovative projects focused on education and training – e.g. MSc and PhD programmes with a focus on entrepreneurship.

Innovation Projects: Multidisciplinary and transnational research and development projects with promising market potential.

Accelerator: Business creation services that support product developments that stand to benefit from a faster innovation process (access to research institutions, living labs and test beds, funding, help with tapping into new markets, etc.).

EIT Health will initially be funded for seven years. Armin Pscherer, managing director of German EIT Health GmbH, explains: “The EIT only provides top-up project funding. This means that 75% of the total funding for a project needs to be covered by EIT Health partners. If a project is considered convincing and funds are available from the 140 or so network partners, the EIT will then inject the remaining 25% from EU funds. This can be up to 80 million euros per year.” The network partners also include the German Länder of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which contribute around 500,000 euros to the budget per year.

First projects have been launched

With its office and research sites in the cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg, German EIT Health GmbH is strategically well located in Germany’s vibrant Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, embedded in the infrastructure of Roche Diagnostics and in close vicinity to other important network partners, including AbbVie Deutschland GmbH and Co. KG in Ludwigshafen and the University of Heidelberg. German EIT Health GmbH has seven employees and the first projects have now been launched.

EIT Health projects in Baden-Württemberg

European Oncology Consortium
: Six national Comprehensive Cancer Centres in Stockholm (S), Amsterdam (NL), Paris (F), Cambridge (UK), Barcelona (E) and Heidelberg (National Centre for Tumour Diseases, NCT, and the German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ) have started to pool their data structures in order to maximise the benefits of acquired data for patients by specifically taking into account ethical aspects.

CLOSE: Roche Diagnostics GmbH and Profil Germany have initiated a project called CLOSE which aims to develop a system for improving the metabolic control of patients with severe diabetes type 2. CLOSE aims to provide home care, improve patients’ quality of life and strengthen the sustainability of healthcare systems.

AVC: AbbVie Deutschland GmbH and the University of Heidelberg have jointly established a project called AVC (AbbVie Care) which aims to improve health at work and increase productivity.

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/news/eu-consortium-to-speed-up-innovations-in-the-healthcare-sector