Press release

Matchmaking Innovation in Health Forum: new solutions

6 November 2022
Foro "Matchmaking Innovación en Salud": nuevas soluciones

Public-private collaboration is key to creating competitive "technology clusters", generating and retaining talent and incorporating innovation

  •  Fenin's Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology, along with the Basque Government, TECNALIA and the Biodonostia Health Research Institute, have organised a meeting in Donostia/San Sebastián to promote the high-value healthcare industrial fabric in the region
  • The conference encouraged networking and the promotion of projects between start-ups, companies with a long history in the Healthcare Technology Sector associated with Fenin and research groups

Donostia-San Sebastian, 26th October 2022. Promote open innovation ecosystems aimed at developing new "Smart Medical Device & Robotics" solutions between different actors - such as public institutions, start-ups, R&D&I groups, industry and technological and clinical centres - that result in a high-value business fabric, talent generation and retention and the consolidation of the Basque Country as a technological pole of reference at a national level. This was the aim of the Forum 'Matchmaking Innovation in Health: Smart Medical Devices and Robotics' organised today in Donostia/San Sebastián by Fenin's Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology, the Basque Government, TECNALIA and the Biodonostia Health Research Institute. This initiative has also enjoyed the collaboration of the Basque Foundation for Health Innovation and Research (BIOEF), the Basque Health Cluster, the Basque Research & Technology Alliance, the ITEMAS Platform at Carlos III Health Institute and the Spanish Society of Biomedical Engineering (SEIB).

The opening of the conference was attended by Estíbaliz Hernáez, Deputy Minister for Technology, Innovation and Digital Transformation in the Basque Government and José Luis Quintas, Deputy Minister for Health. In the words of the Deputy Minister, "The Basque Country has made a strategic commitment to this sector and the results are extremely positive. This sector has a growing weight in the Basque economy, in its industrial and R&D fabric. In recent years, there has been an increase in business activity in the sector, with a turnover of €1,382 million, 2% of the Basque Country's GDP, organised into 4 different value chains, such as pharma-biotech, diagnostics, medical devices and health services. Furthermore, the Basque Government is strongly committed to R&D&I activity in the sector, carried out by our agents and companies through programmes such as Elkartek, Hazitek and Azpitek, among others. The joint work of Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network (RVCTI) agents and these with companies is of particular relevance. The synergies generated between the technology centres and the cooperative research centres under the BRTA alliance make it possible to generate a high added value scientific-technological offer for our companies that enables them to incorporate cutting-edge technology".

The Deputy Minister for Health highlighted that work is being done "to reinforce the approach that health research should be oriented primarily towards the needs of the health system and the Basque population and, in turn, it should be a lever for the Basque economy to improve its competitiveness and advance along a path of sustainable growth". In this respect, Quintas defended the public-private collaboration proposed in this forum and assured that the Department of Health participates "through the biosanitary research institutes".

At the opening ceremony, Margarita Alfonsel, Secretary General of the Spanish Federation of Healthcare Technology Companies, Fenin, explained that this conference - the third of its kind in which the Federation is participating after holding "matchmaking" conferences in Madrid and Asturias - is "part of a broad support programme for entrepreneurship with which Fenin aims to accelerate the generation and incorporation of technological innovations in the healthcare system and contribute to strengthening the industrial fabric of the sector throughout the country". For this purpose, the Secretary General pointed out that "the participation of all the agents that make up the value chain of entrepreneurship, innovation and smart medical devices, both from the public and private spheres is key".

The Basque Country is the autonomous community with the highest health expenditure per capita, as well as being a leading region in technological and industrial development centres. Particularly in the fields of smart medical devices and robotics, which were the focus of the meeting and which have great potential to respond to the current challenges facing the healthcare system. According to Jesús Valero, Managing Director of the TECNALIA Technology Centre ,"as the pandemic has shown, the health sector is a key sector in terms of technological and industrial sovereignty and an opportunity for the development of wealth and highly qualified jobs".

Therefore, with the aim of promoting "local" bio-health R&D&I for the Basque Country and, in turn, positioning this region as a hub for the rest of Spain, the contents of the conference have addressed a triple objective: to interconnect synergies between the industrial fabric in the field of smart medical devices and robotics, to promote the identification and development of projects that transform the health system, and to promote a value chain around Health Technology.

One-to-one meetings to explore funding opportunities

During the meeting, the different participating start-ups had the opportunity to present their products and services in the field of SmartMedical Devices & Roboticsto Healthcare Technology companies and clinical and technological research centres in order to explore public-private funding opportunities. After these presentations, a space was opened for networking and 'one to one' meetings between entrepreneurs and companies associated with Fenin and potential funders of their projects.

"The matchmaking days provide local start-ups with an effective opportunity to approach long-established companies in the Healthcare Technology Sector with funding potential and to key institutions. Frameworks such as this are essential to boost the entrepreneurial business ecosystem and promote technology hubs in Spain and in the Basque Country, based on an Industry 4.0 model",said Sergio Muñoz, Director of Innovation and Digital Health at Fenin and coordinator of the Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology.

In addition to this commitment to networking,the programme included various conferences and round tables in which bio-health R&D&I challenges, needs and opportunities of in the Basque Countrywere analysed from the clinical and industrial points of view, with a special focus on the field of robotics.

Patrick Boisseau, CEO of Medtech Europe, the European Trade Association for the Medical Technology Industry, also took part in the meeting, explaining the IHI (Innovative Health Initiative), the most important European call for public-private partnerships.

This forum, held in the Basque Country, joins other 'Health Innovation Matchmakings' that have already taken place in Madrid and Asturias in 2022, and which will be continued with future meetings in new regions. They all share the same objective: promote reference technology clusters throughout the country for the benefit of the health system and society.

About Fenin's Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology

The Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology is an entity funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and promoted by the Spanish Federation of Healthcare Technology Companies (Fenin). The Platform is an inter-sectorial and multidisciplinary working forum which is a reference for innovators in this country, thanks to its more than 10 years of experience in the service of innovation.

It currently comprises hundreds of entities, including hospitals, technology centres, universities and other research organisations, as well as companies from different sectors. Its objective is to raise awareness and promote R&D&I in our country, to mobilise the critical mass of innovation through networking, to incorporate this innovation into the market and to promote entrepreneurship in the health sector.

To this end, the Platform maintains an active dialogue with the different stakeholders in the health sector in order to put scientific and experimental knowledge into practice through business implementation.

About TECNALIA

TECNALIA is the largest applied research and technological development centre in Spain, a European benchmark and member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance.

We work with companies and institutions to increase their competitiveness, quality of life of people and achieve sustainable growth. We do so thanks to people who are passionate about technology and committed to building a better society. Its main scopes of action are: digital transformation, smart manufacturing, energy transition, sustainable mobility, urban ecosystem, and personalised health. (https://www.tecnalia.com/en/).

About Biodonostia

The Biodonostia Health Research Institute is the leading health research institute in the Basque Country. It gives priority to translational research focused on patients, covers all the research carried out in the historical territory of Gipuzkoa within the scope of Osakidetza - SVS and aims to improve the health of citizens through its multi-institutional and interdisciplinary collaborative structure.

The mission of IIS Biodonostia is to be the benchmark R&D&I centre of the Public Health System in Gipuzkoa, lead the development of scientific and innovative activities of excellence of a translational nature and with great repercussions on the health of the population, generating synergies with its business environment that enable it to tackle value-added projects whose results benefit patients and society.

Its vision is to be a national reference centre in research into ageing, precision medicine and health innovation, leading the change towards technological medicine in the Basque Country, aligned with the needs of professionals and patients, while at the same time promoting a change in the economic model.

Caption (* from left to right)

  • Margarita Alfonsel, Secretary General of Fenin, Spanish Federation of Healthcare Technology Companies
  • Jose Luis Quintas, Deputy Minister for Health
  • Estibaliz Hernaez Laviña, Deputy Minister for Technology, Innovation and Digital Transformation in Eusko Jaurlaritza - Basque Government
  • Jesús Valero, Managing Director of TECNALIA