The Spanish Federation of Healthcare Technology Companies, Fenin, the research and technological development center Tecnalia, the Basque Health Cluster and the Spanish Society of Surgical Research (SEIQ) have organized a meeting in Barakaldo (Bizkaia) to promote the high-value healthcare industrial fabric in the region, which in turn allows entrepreneurship and the generation and retention of talent.
The Basque Country is a leading autonomous community in terms of technological and industrial development centers, especially in fields such as medical devices and robotics, with a clear commitment by the Basque Government to public-private collaboration.
The conference has encouraged networking and the promotion of projects between startups, companies with a long trajectory in the Healthcare Technology Sector associated to Fenin and research groups.
Bilbao, October 20, 2023. To consolidate the Basque Country as a “technological hub” of reference in bio-health R&D&I, to strengthen the high-value business fabric, as well as to generate, attract and retain talent for the region. With these objectives in mind, different actors that make up the innovative and healthcare ecosystem -public institutions, startups, R&D&I groups, industry, and technological and clinical centers- met on October 18 and 19 in Barakaldo (Bizkaia) at the Forum ‘Matchmaking Innovation in Healthcare: Smart Medical Devices and Robotics’ organized by Fenin’s Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology; the research and technological development center Tecnalia; the Basque Health Cluster and the Spanish Society for Surgical Research (SEIQ). The Basque Government, the SPRI Group; BIC Bizkaia; Basque Research & Technology (BRTA); the ITEMAS Platform of the Carlos III Health Institute; the Spanish Society of Biomedical Engineering (SEIB), and the Spanish Society of Health Managers (Sedisa) also collaborated in this initiative.
The meeting was attended by Estíbaliz Hernáez, Deputy Minister of Technology, Innovation and Digital Transformation of the Basque Government, and José Luis Quintas, Deputy Minister of Health. The Deputy Minister defended the importance of public-private collaboration to generate a high-value industrial fabric: “the biohealth sector is a strong sector in R&D&I, knowledge and capital that deserves the continued support of the Administration,” she said. Regarding this ‘Matchmaking Innovation in Health’ Forum, Estíbaliz Hernáez said that “it allows visibility to be given to what is being done in the Basque Country for innovation and entrepreneurship, and puts this region in the spotlight of startups, investors and qualified personnel”.
In line with his counterpart, the Basque Deputy Minister of Health explained that “in addition to the optimal incorporation of healthcare technology into the system, it is necessary to promote research and innovation in collaboration with the science-technology-business ecosystem, as reflected in the Basque Government’s Strategic Framework for Healthcare Research and Innovation 2022-2025”.
Margarita Alfonsel, secretary general of the Spanish Federation of Healthcare Technology Companies, Fenin, also spoke about the optimum development and incorporation of innovations. “The lack of penetration in our market of the products manufactured by our industry is still a challenge to overcome,” she said. To reverse this situation, Alfonsel is committed to public-private synergies such as those promoted in this forum, which will allow “to continue discovering new products, services and opportunities and business models with which to respond to industrial healthcare challenges, and generate new models of collaboration which, in turn, generate more industry”.
For her part, Elena Schaeidt, Director of Corporate Development at TECNALIA, highlighted the importance of bringing together the entire ecosystem in the field of smart medical devices and medical robotics, with this forum being a meeting point for researchers, clinicians, startups, companies and public administrations. “Our mission at TECNALIA, as a technology center, is to develop knowledge and technologies that solve problems for companies and society or that are the seed of new startups that generate impact in our territory.”
Meanwhile, the president of the Basque Health Cluster, Asier Albizu, placed special emphasis on two points: on the one hand, he pointed out the importance of promoting both private-private and private-public collaboration, and on the other, the importance of the industry being proactive and proposing to the healthcare sector ways and strategies for collaboration with actions with which to start working together and which lead to a common objective of growth in this sector, thus combining need-response. Albizu has claimed the role of the Basque Health Cluster “as a key agent to promote the strengthening of these bridges and to dynamize this continuous collaboration”.
From the SEIQ, its president, Julio Mayol, recognized the importance of “the incorporation of clinicians and researchers into a healthcare innovation ecosystem that drives the transformation of healthcare systems through R&D&I”. “This Forum is a unique opportunity for clinicians, technologists and the productive sector to come together and co-design the future of a 5P health: preventive, predictive, participatory, personalized and population-based,” he added.
One to one’ meetings to explore funding opportunities
During the meeting, the different participating startups had the opportunity to present their products and services in the field of Smart Medical Devices & Robotics to Healthcare Technology companies and clinical and technological research centers in order to explore public-private financing opportunities. After these presentations, a space for networking and one to one meetings between entrepreneurs and companies associated to Fenin and potential financiers of their projects was opened.
In addition to this commitment to networking, the program included several conferences and round tables where, from the clinical and industrial points of view, the challenges, needs and opportunities of biosanitary R+D+i were analyzed, with special focus on the field of robotics.
Also, on the 18th, a “Health Robotics Arena” was organized, an innovative format in which doctors from different hospitals presented various real “clinical challenges” they face in their day-to-day healthcare practice so that technicians from the companies and startups present at the meeting could propose solutions to these challenges through innovation and the development of technological tools.
This forum held in the Basque Country is in addition to other ‘Health Innovation Matchmakings’ that have already taken place in Madrid, Asturias and the Basque Country itself in 2022, and which will be continued with future meetings in new regions. All of them with the same objective: to promote technological poles of reference throughout the country for the benefit of the healthcare system and society.
About the Spanish Platform for Innovation in Healthcare Technology of Fenin
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 intersectorial and multidisciplinary work forum that, thanks to its more than 10 years of experience in the service of Innovation, is a reference for innovators in this country. It is currently made up of hundreds of entities, including hospitals, technology centers, universities and other research organizations, as well as companies from different sectors. Its objective is to make visible and promote R&D&I in our country, to mobilize the critical mass of innovation through networking, to incorporate this innovation into the market and to promote entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector. To this end, the Platform maintains an active dialogue with the various stakeholders in the health sector in order to achieve the implementation of scientific and experimental knowledge through business implementation.
TECNALIA is the largest applied research and technological development center in Spain, a benchmark in Europe and a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance. It collaborates with companies and institutions to improve their competitiveness, people’s quality of life and achieve sustainable growth, thanks to a team of more than 1,500 people committed to building a better world through technological research and innovation. That is why TECNALIA’s research has a real impact on society and generates benefits in the form of quality of life and progress. Its main areas of action are: smart manufacturing, digital transformation, energy transition, sustainable mobility, health and food, urban ecosystem and circular economy.
In the latest awareness and positioning study conducted by European Research Survey ERS in 2022, TECNALIA ranks first in R&D&I brand awareness.
About Basque Health Cluster
The Basque Health Cluster, association of the biosciences and health sector in the Basque Country, which represents 2.5% of the GDP of the Basque Country and has a turnover of 2,400 million euros per year, with more than 10,000 direct jobs in the Basque Autonomous Community and investments in R&D&I areas and programs that exceed 150 million euros. The Basque Health Cluster currently has 117 associated entities that bring together the entire value chain, integrating the subsectors of pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, medical devices and in vitro diagnostics, digital health and assistance, and its main objective is to coordinate, represent, manage, promote and defend the common interests of the associated companies, contributing to the development, growth and internationalization of the associated companies through the configuration of a differential value proposition that boosts their competitive improvement, promotes dynamic cooperation between the different agents in the Biosciences and Health field at regional, national and international level and favors interaction with other sectors.
The Spanish Society of Surgical Research, founded in 1979, aims to promote, encourage and disseminate quality basic, translational and clinical research related to any of the surgical specialties, as well as to promote care and technological innovation in surgery, and to be a forum for the exchange of ideas about research and innovation in surgery and related disciplines.