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Making Europe a leader in bioscience: boosting trust and opening minds

A vision of Paris as Europe's leading hub for life sciences innovation

PAris

This is a hugely exciting time for Europe’s biotech, med-tech and life sciences sector. New disruptive innovation is changing the way we create value in healthcare: big data, artificial intelligence, the growing role of patients, the discovery of new materials and biologics, gene, cell and other new therapies are all contributing
to this revolution. These disruptions have reduced classic entry barriers, and the emergence of new big players like China has lowered the new barriers. Mass data creation and treatment capacity are now quite affordable and delivered fast.

Meanwhile, the emergence of China as an investor in innovation is set to transform the global landscape in life sciences.

These are not short-term fashion trends based on only a few research publications. These are deep structural evolutions, and require established research players to adapt rapidly if they want to remain leaders.

I have the privilege of leading Medicen Paris Region, which is focused on one clear goal: to make Paris and the surrounding region, known as Île-de- France, the leading healthcare cluster in Europe.

As a competitive cluster for innovative health technologies, Medicen Paris Region has contributed to 68 products launched since its creation in 2005, a high hit rate based on a mix of private and public funding – €1.9bn ($2.3bn) in total, €0.5bn ($0.6bn) of which was public aid.

The best R&D clusters ecosystem brings together all the ingredients needed for success in collaborative research: the best scientific ideas, a critical mass of funding and a strong consortium of partners. Bringing these together can help accelerate the development of groundbreaking products that can be commercialised around the world.

Medicen Paris Region’s success so far

This success has been thanks to the support of the French government and the Paris region, mixed in with a diverse ecosystem of cutting- edge technology institutes, academic and private research centres, technology transfer structures, incubators, private and public investors, and a rising cohort of health sciences entrepreneurs, who are ever more promising and ambitious.

Also vital to this has been its broad R&D network, expertise and scale in its leading hospitals and a highly qualified pool of life science graduates and employees.

Among our 400 member organisations are private companies, research centres, universities, hospitals and local authorities, increasingly working together to solve healthcare’s biggest challenges. A great example of this type of multi-stakeholder consortium is HECAM. This public-private research alliance is aimed at improving survival rates in hepatocellular carcinoma (the primary cancer of the liver).

The initial inspiration for the project came from a company leader in the field of medical imaging, who saw a need for a set of solutions to improve diagnosis and treatment of this cancer.

This involves incorporating new diagnostic tests (biomarkers, physical measurements and imaging) and new interventional therapies into medical practice. Medicen helped set up a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder consortium (including large and small companies as well as academic leaders) and supported the project with €41m in funding over five years.

National and European interests

As well as developing the Paris region, Medicen also has strong national and European interests: we want to collaborate with other national and regional clusters, and create partnerships with researchers and companies outside the traditional healthcare sphere, including the digital, new materials or optics markets.

Europe is facing enormously strong competition for healthcare investment from the US and, increasingly, China and needs to prove its value to global investors.

Europe also needs to find a way to help our small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) grow into world-class organisations. Key to this will be working more closely with investors to fill a clear gap in financing: our ecosystem supports early- stage funding needs, but European SMEs often have difficulty finding investment to scale-up to be mid-cap companies with a global presence.

I believe the role of Medicen Paris Region is to create strong trust among healthcare’s stakeholders, and nurture a common willingness to take risks in this ever-evolving environment. In the Paris region we have seen promising ideas cross-fertilised by using assets such as scientific and engineering knowledge, preclinical and clinical facilities. Any ecosystem that can develop collaborative platforms – and not just in the health sector, but with other cutting edge technologies – will be rewarded by investors who want to play their part in developing innovative health products and tools for tomorrow’s health.

Stéphane Roques is Chief Executive of Medicen Paris Region

Article by
Stéphane Roques

17th October 2018

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