How three ecosystems in East Netherlands are collaborating intensively on MedTech innovations with impact.
From an artificial pancreas to needle-free injections, medical technology is making healthcare more efficient and allows people to live healthier, longer lives. The use of technology keeps healthcare manageable, affordable, and accessible in the future. In East Netherlands, 3 powerful ecosystems – Health Valley, MedTech Twente, and Health & High Tech Region Nijmegen – contribute to the development of valuable medical equipment. During the annual Health Valley Event, they met with many parties from home and abroad. “Healthcare has to change. Waiting for the next crisis is not an option,” said Maroeska Rovers, scientific director of the TechMed Centre, in her keynote during the healthcare innovation event.
Healthcare is in a state of flux. Within the healthcare sector, digitalization and e-health are taking off. The corona pandemic has accelerated this development. It proved that new forms of care and prevention can be of use in certain cases. Home monitoring is an example of this. Medical technology also provides advanced diagnostic and screening techniques, which are deployed in the hospital using artificial intelligence.
However, medical technology is often still an add-on rather than a substitute for procedures and other technologies. Rovers, scientific director of the TechMed Center and professor at Radboudumc, elaborated in her keynote at Health Valley Event (2023 edition).
“By 2030, the shortage of healthcare personnel will reach 135,000. At the same time, there are countless tools and devices that can improve our healthcare and make it more efficient. But a change must take place in order for them to reach their full potential,” Rovers stressed. For example, early (re)evaluation of the applicability of the technology in companies and institutions must be higher on the agenda. “Dare to engage in discussions at an early stage of product development. Involve critics, but especially the patient himself: is your solution valuable to him or her? And how will your idea help the healthcare professional? By thinking about this already at an early stage, we ultimately keep healthcare manageable and affordable.”
The fact that MedTech is booming in the Eastern Netherlands is striking to Rovers. “From medical products such as biodegradable bio-needles to the development of an artificial pancreas: it all has its origins in East Netherlands. I am sometimes surprised at how closely the different ecosystems are connected. Everyone wants to help each other and that makes the region successful.”
East Netherlands has it all
In East Netherlands, companies, knowledge institutes, healthcare institutions, and up-and-coming talent work together to come up with the latest medical innovations. Chris Doomernik, director of Health Valley, explains why this region is able to make a difference. “It is vital that all players within the healthcare system, large and small, are closely connected. The three MedTech ecosystems in the region – MedTech Twente, Health Valley, and Health & High Tech Region Nijmegen – reinforce each other. They all have their own R&D focus and community. All three ecosystems are incubators for and accelerators of solutions that make a difference for patients and healthcare providers. At the same time, they boost business activities in the region.”
East Netherlands has it all, she says. “We not only have powerful knowledge centers but also put it into practice through the established MedTech companies and healthcare institutions.” Technological innovations and ideas for improvement are cleverly matched to healthcare challenges through targeted programs and events. Fast-growing companies find the necessary facilities, knowledge, business support, and talent needed to develop and produce innovative solutions.
In Twente, the medtech sector is growing rapidly. Successful companies such as Demcon, Medspray, U-Needle, and Micronit, all based at the Kennispark Twente innovation campus, have emerged and grown in the region. The source of new activity and innovations in MedTech is the University of Twente, within which the TechMed Centre plays an important role. MedTech startups, scale-ups, and established industries find each other within the MedTech Twente business community. Together, they accelerate healthcare innovations, for example through joint grant applications. Besides access to lab facilities, support on internationalization, and financing instruments, they also find the connection between high-tech research and the challenges of healthcare institutions in Twente.
Health Valley Netherlands
The Health Valley Netherlands ecosystem also accelerates innovations in the medical world. The ecosystem identifies healthcare issues and connects them to the business community, in order to accelerate the development, application, and scaling up of innovative technological solutions. For example, the European project dRural, aimed at improving the quality of life of citizens in rural areas, was launched thanks in part to Health Valley. “All ecosystems, both in our region and elsewhere in the Netherlands and beyond, should be connected as much as possible. Innovation knows no boundaries,” Doomernik concludes.
Health & High Tech Region Nijmegen
In addition, Health & High Tech Region Nijmegen is distinctive on an international level in the field of medical technologies and (bio)pharmaceuticals. MedTech is practically applied in healthcare institutions such as the Radboudumc. A wide variety of healthcare startups can be found in the region as well. The Noviotech Campus is at the heart of this ecosystem.