Horizon 2020 research: The health innovation ecosystem of Europe – Open Access Government

Bringing research to life and seeing it translated into real-world impacts, such as bringing important innovations to patients, is a complex process, in which many innovators fail. Evaluations of FP7 and completed health-related Horizon 2020 projects found that an estimated 80% of the results lacked real progress in terms of valorisation and advancement towards the market. This is a missed opportunity as health innovation is one of the major drivers of future growth in the knowledge-based economy and innovation in healthcare is crucial for providing benefit to citizens, as well as meeting established European priorities.

Several barriers are impeding the process of valorisation of EU-funded projects. These can relate to general barriers refer to barriers that hamper valorisation of research results in the life sciences industry or specific barriers that hamper valorisation specifically for FP7 Health and H2020 SC1 project results. For instance, once a project has ended, there is no mechanism in place to ensure that grant beneficiaries make any effort to carry out the proposed post-project exploitation or commercialisation plan and it may not be the case that all of the partners involved are otherwise incentivised or interested to keep the project going. In all cases, these barriers relate to the way the Health Innovation Ecosystem is organised.

The H2020 funded project UTILE (www.health-breakthrough.eu), is aimed at facilitating activities that translate promising health-related research results into innovations that will reach the market and have an impact on the healthcare system. This initiative presents the EU-Health Innovation Marketplace, which references all types of innovations with potential for future exploitation and/or commercialisation, primarily generated by EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and Health and Horizon 2020 SC1 programmes. The UTILE Marketplace matched parties developing new innovations (partners within European projects, including academic research organisations, SMEs and large organisations) and organisations that act as facilitators for these innovations (including industry representatives, advisors, entrepreneurs, investors and other collaborative parties) and are searching for new research or business opportunities.

Valorisation of research does not take place in a vacuum, but rather through a series of steps and processes that depend upon various important partners and stakeholders and with access to various resources including not only know-how, experience and expertise (human capital), but also facilities, networks, financial resources and more: in short, valorisation requires an ecosystem in which it can take place. The fundamental rationale for designing the UTILE Marketplace as well as the other services UTILE provide finds its background in, what we investigated, is an effective Health Innovation Ecosystem.

Within UTILE, we developed a framework and outlined conditions for the development of an effective Health Innovation Ecosystem within Europe via feedback and insights from the UTILE Market and Stakeholder Advisory Committee (MSAC) consisting of Europes respected and experienced industry, investment and other innovation stakeholders. The developed framework distinguished four important elements for an effective Health Innovation Ecosystem and identified the perspective of experts in the field regarding these elements.

The four elements that make up the developed framework for an effective Health innovation Ecosystem within Europe are: 1. Excellent Science, 2. Access to capital, 3. Access to human capital and 4. Culture of innovation. Within UTILE, we investigated through interviews and round tables discussion the extent to which the relative supply of these elements, or lack thereof, are perceived as barriers to innovation within Europe. As is visualised in Figure 1, the major barriers are perceived for 3. Access to human capital and 4. Innovation culture & incentive

One of the final UTILE deliverables will be a series of policy recommendations addressing a number of issues but strengthening the European health innovation ecosystem will feature prominently and more attention will be paid to proposed solutions.

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Horizon 2020 research: The health innovation ecosystem of Europe - Open Access Government

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