The seven health clusters in Spain (#ClustersSaludEspaña) have reactivated their collaboration after the pandemic in an annual coordination meeting in which they have designed their strategy to boost the activity of companies in the sector.
The clusters Arahealth (from Aragon), Basque Health Cluster (from the Basque Country), Bioga (from Galicia), Bioval (from the Valencian Community), CSG – Cluster Saúde de Galicia (from Galicia), CSM – Clúster de Salud Mental de Cataluña (from Catalonia) and Clúster de Soluciones Innovadoras para la Vida Independiente (Cluster SIVI, from Castilla y León) have held their annual coordination meeting at the Ibercaja Business Centre in Madrid.
The seven clusters have a total of 600 members, whose companies employ 219,000 people and have a turnover of 39 billion euros.
The health crisis generated by the pandemic forced these clusters to reduce their face-to-face collaborative activity, although remote actions were maintained. Among the most important services that these clusters provide to their associated companies are the comprehensive management of R&D&I aid both nationally and internationally, the management of living labs, the introduction of biotechnology in the production chain of other industrial sectors, the conversion of employment to attract it to the sector, training in the regulatory framework, the relationship with entrepreneurship and the acceleration of new projects, as well as coordination with the public sector for the development of new initiatives.
The meeting also served to address proposals to tackle the most relevant challenges facing companies in the health sector, such as the ageing of the population (especially in dispersed rural environments), identified as a vector of innovation for the creation of specific services “to promote social innovation, long-term care and tackling unwanted loneliness with the support of technology that promotes both the promotion of autonomy and social inclusion“, as Montse Fernández Chimente, manager of the SIVI Cluster, commented.
Another important challenge is the regulatory change affecting medical devices, MDV and IVD, in view of the implementation of the quality, certification and regulatory systems required by the European Union’s drug and medical device agencies. “To boost our healthcare industry in the face of the challenge of complying with the regulations, we need support structures for testing and certification, as well as specialised advice on quality and regulation for both facilities and products“, said Idoia Muñoz, director general of the Basque Health Cluster.
The seven clusters, with the new inclusion of BioVal, have renewed their collaboration agreement on training activities that will allow any of the associated companies to participate in training activities organised by any of the seven clusters. They have also agreed to broaden the scope of their collaboration to enhance their relational capital and their representative role. Some of the actions to be implemented include the creation of a register of healthcare technology companies willing to collaborate on international projects, the exchange of information on business opportunities for the sector at regional level and the sharing of services and events of interest to the industry.
According to Carlos Lapuerta, manager of the Aragon Health Cluster, “collaboration is the key to promoting innovation projects that improve the competitiveness of companies in the health sector“.
BIOGA has highlighted good practices to combine collaborations between clusters and regions in relation to the demand for talent in the sector. Loli Pereiro, manager of BIOGA, states that “instruments such as Dual Vocational Training or the Biotalent platform, recently launched by the cluster, generate greater connection between labour supply and demand, as well as the visibility of the professional opportunities offered by the health and biotechnology industries to retain and attract talent to highly innovative sectors that provide solutions to the main health, social and environmental challenges“.
For her part, Gisela Garcia-Alvarez, manager of CSG – Cluster Saúde de Galicia, has insisted on the relevance of this type of inter-cluster initiatives that “help to address common challenges in a more effective way and to enhance the capabilities of this type of sectoral entities.”
#ClustersSaludEspaña reaffirms itself as a strategic alliance for the associationism of the industrial health sector and faces a 2023 starring the European Nextgen funds and the need to establish innovative ecosystems that nurture the industry and attract talent of the new profiles in demand.