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Retrospective: 2014 Baden-Württemberg Healthcare Industry Forum

More than 190 people took up BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH and BioRegionUlm’s invitation to participate in the 2014 Baden-Württemberg Healthcare Industry Forum on 24th September 2014. The interdisciplinary meeting, which is the only one of its kind in Baden-Württemberg, took place in Ulm Congress Centre and specifically focused on the cooperation between different sectors in the healthcare industry, i.e. medical technology, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Simone Schwanitz from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts welcomed the guests to the Healthcare Industry Forum, which took place in Ulm Congress Centre. © BIOPRO

In her welcome address, Dr. Simone Schwanitz, director at the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, pointed out that the healthcare industry is one of the largest markets of the future and that it is already the largest economic sector in Baden-Württemberg. She highlighted research and development as the pivotal drivers of innovation and emphasised the need to continue focussing on R&D in the future in order to further expand the excellent position of the Baden-Württemberg healthcare industry. She also said that the cooperation between science and industry is of major strategic importance and she made reference to BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Baden-Württemberg government that has recently extended its activities to include support for companies and research institutions in the healthcare sector. BIOPRO is specifically focused on identifying new and interesting cooperation partners with the aim of boosting the development of innovative products and services in this sector. 

A networking meeting revamped

A Finnish delegation from Baden-Württemberg's partner region Oulu participated in the forum. © BIOPRO

In line with the realignment of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH’s activities in 2013, the networking meeting, which takes place every two years, has also changed its profile. The successful Biotechnology Forum has become the Baden-Württemberg Healthcare Industry Forum, and was held for the first time under this new name in September 2014. This year’s forum focused exclusively on the medical technology, pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology sectors which enabled participants to focus even more specifically on issues, innovative approaches and interactions between the different sectors. 

This year’s forum was hosted by the BioRegionUlm association. The region bordered by the cities of Ulm, Biberach and Laupheim is one of the leading biopharmaceuticals production sites in Europe. Professor Dr. Uwe Bücheler, Senior Vice President Biopharmaceuticals Operations at Boehringer Ingelheim Deutschland GmbH and chairman of BioRegionUlm, provided insights into technology and product innovations that enable the more effective treatment of a larger number of patients worldwide, and the future of biopharmaceutical production, including ‘designed molecules’.

Prof. Dr. Kyösti Oikarinen, Dean of the Medical Faculty at the University of Oulu, Finland, presented Baden-Württemberg’s partner region Oulu. He was accompanied by 28 Finnish delegates and was delighted to have been invited to the forum and have the opportunity to network and initiate cooperative projects with local forum participants. 

The morning plenary session was moderated by Dr. Ralf Kindervater, CEO of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg.

From digitalized healthcare to ‘Big Data’ and future prospects for biotech companies

Around 200 people attended the keynote lectures of the forum, including Prof. Dr. Roland Eils’ lecture on “Big Data in the Life Sciences: A Silent Revoluion” © BIOPRO

The morning programme was rounded off with three keynote lectures. Dr. Hans Hofstraat, Vice President Philips Research, talked about innovations in medical technology, highlighting the importance of developing new healthcare models, especially with regard to the digitalized world in which we live. He also called on participants to come up with innovative approaches and steer a fundamental change in thinking. Prof. Dr. Roland Eils, head of the Department of Theoretical Bioinformatics at the DKFZ and managing director of the BioQuant centre at the University of Heidelberg, stressed the importance of bioinformatics and systems biology for the life sciences. Dr. Klaus Kremoser, CEO of the Heidelberg-based biotech company Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG, was the last speaker of the morning and his talk covered the future prospects for biotech companies in Germany. “We need a functioning capital food chain for biotech companies,” he said in reference to the financing obstacles faced by German companies. He also presented technologies and business models that work well. 

The afternoon session – from opportunities for international cooperation to drug development

During the lunch and coffee breaks, the participants had ample opportunities to meet up and discuss issues from earlier sessions or to visit the exhibition. © BIOPRO

The afternoon programme offered a total of six parallel workshops which addressed and discussed the diverse and interdisciplinary themes in the healthcare industry, including opportunities for international cooperation, drug development, innovative approaches in the medical technology sector, regulatory requirements and reimbursement, systems biology, Big Data and personalized medicine. 

After the workshops, the participants had another opportunity to meet up and discuss issues from earlier sessions or to visit the exhibition. The broad, interdisciplinary range of topics was very well received by all those who attended the forum and enabled them to discuss the possibility of cross-sector and international cooperations. 

We would be delighted to see you again at the next Baden-Württemberg Healthcare Industry Forum in two years’ time. 

Impressions from the 2014 Baden-Württemberg Healthcare Industry Forum

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