During the COVID-19 crisis, the health ecosystem has come under severe stress, experiencing an extraordinary situation. It is therefore one of the 14 ecosystems that needs a special focus for the recovery.
Anna Ablazevica, DG GROW, explained the Commission´s ecosystem approach and the main characteristics of the health ecosystem. It is built on five pillars, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices and technologies, is of high societal and economic value, and counts with a strong involvement of governments. During the crisis, we struggled to meet the demands – therefore, we need to build a stronger European health union. Concrete challenges are the up- and reskilling of the workforce, the deployment of digitals solutions and becoming more independent from third countries for the import of chemicals.
Iván Arias Roldan, DG GROW, presented the current regulatory framework for PPE - Regulation 2016/425 - and the response so far since the beginning of the crisis. DG GROW has carried out a variety of responses, including the development of the clearing house, holding a dialogue with the Member States, economic operators and sectorial associations, published guidance and created a dedicated website.
Denis Dambois, DG GROW, spoke about IP protect and the different forms in which intellectual property can be protected. Upcoming communications on IP rights encompass an IP action plan, a new pharma strategy, and lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis. They are further working on IP mechanisms to facilitate access to IP-protected products (patent pools and compulsory licensing).
Marc Dechamps, BioWin, gave an overview of the Walloon response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which represents what bioregions have been doing across the countries. The initiatives focussed on mask production, 3D printing of swabs, mask decontamination, testing (methods and diagnostic platforms), treatment, and digital solutions. These initiatives showed the drive and resourcefulness of public and private sector instances of bioregions. We have to promote synergistic collaboration between industrial actors and hospitals.
Horst Domdey, BioM Biotech Cluster Development, showed how his cluster was able to switch its activities to meet the COVID-19 challenges. His cluster collected proposals to fight the pandemic. He reported a market failure of joint ventures, and the public entities were the only possibility to support the system. Now there is a lot of action in the vaccine development, but he misses support for therapeutics.
Anaïs Le Corvec, CEBR, highlighted the diversity of the ecosystem and expressed the need to better understand the connections between different DG in the European Commission. We need a stronger cross-European support and collaboration, especially on the health issues. Moreover, she stated the need to simplify the regular schemes of SME support.
The session has been recorded and is now available on YouTube.
All the presentations shown during the meeting are also downloadable on the European Cluster Collaboration Platform website.