An important launch of Nordic test cooperations

R&D/Educational facility — November 16, 2017

The Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie, held an inspiring opening speech at the launch of Nordic Proof last week. Managing Director of Nordic Innovation, Svein Berg, says the emphasis and importance of Nordic cooperation to solve future challenges was put forward very clearly by the minister.

The conference «Developing Tomorrow’s Solutions in Nordic Test Facilities» was hosted by Nordic Innovation and leading actors within the Nordic test facility ecosystem on both hospital and municipal level. Norway Health Tech facilitated the event which also saw the kickoff of Nordic Proof, a network of professional test facilities at the leading hospitals in the Nordic Region, which have agreed to establish a one point entry for industry collaboration.

– I think this event shows that we have succeeded in gathering some of the most interesting test facilities in the Nordics in order to create a Nordic infrastructure of test facilities, and that they can be an asset for Nordic companies and startups that develop solutions for the health sector. We have created three different networks that complement each other and who have the ability and interest in taking this a step further, Berg says.

The conference created an opportunity to show results from the three test facility projects Nordic Business and Living Lab Alliance, Nordic Network of Test Beds and Nordic Test Beds. The projects are financed by Nordic Innovation in collaboration with national funding agencies Vinnova, Innovation Norway, Tekes and Rannis.

Proof of a project

Nordic Proof is a spin-off from the Nordic Network of Test Beds project, and aims at easing the access to users and health professionals and speed up the process for testing and verification of medtech and e-health solutions.

– We have had many clinical trials for development of new drugs, but the Intervention Centre at Oslo University Hospital, Sunnaas Hospital and some others have developed departments for industry collaboration. They will now strengthen their competence and visibility though partnership with Nordic Proof, project manager Bent-Håkon Lauritzen from Norway Health Tech said before the launch.

Read more about Norway Health Tech’s involvement in Nordic Proof here

The need for regional markets

– In the Nordic countries there are strong professional circles in health and a strong innovation culture. The Nordic health and care services are among the best in the world and have a long tradition of user involvement in the development of new products and services. This is something business should make use of, Høie said during his opening speech at the conference and emphasized that size matters:

– At the same time, each of the Nordic countries is small and neither of us can be the best at all. It is therefore very positive that you in the Nordic testing communities now cooperate, both in order to provide a better offer for newcomers and to share knowledge and experience, Høie stated in his opening speech.

– Nordic collaboration takes time and it is important to find the right collaboration partners and to share the same visions. We think we have contributed with new tools and a better understanding of what can be achieved at a Nordic level, Svein Berg says and credited Nordic Proof for showing how well a cooperation across borders can be executed:

– It will be important to keep the existing networks alive and expanding them as it is to constantly communicate the results of the work that has already been done on a Nordic level. A great example of that is Nordic Proof, which was launched at the conference as a spin-off, he says.

The importance of testing medical-technical equipment

– Only through systematic testing in a clinical reality, we get the information and documentation we need to assess whether a new product is safe to use and whether it’s worth investing in. Everyone who works with drugs knows this, whether it’s industry, researchers, regulators, or those who make decisions about a drug should be taken into service. We need the same systematics for medical-technical equipment, the minister emphasized and pushed for further innovation:

– In order to get product innovation within health and care, access to testing facilities and support functions for clinical studies also for medical equipment and new technology must be improved in the various parts of the health and care services.

The Nordic Business and Living Lab Alliance partners used the occasion to talk about their experiences with municipal testing facilities, and presented their Guide to the Nordics. And Nordic Innovation launched their new publication called Nordic Infrastructure of Test Facilities, which gives an overview over actors involved with test facilities in the health and welfare sector in all the Nordic countries.

– It was great to see that as many as 140 companies, cluster organizations, municipalities and hospitals from all the Nordic countries participated at the event. Hopefully they made new and valuable connections, Berg says.

CEO of Norway Health Tech, Kathrine Myhre, enjoys the Nordic cooperation.

– I thought Bent Høie spoke in very clear terms about the need for innovation and better solutions for the patients, as well as creating new business in the Nordic area. There were competent people coming from all over the Nordic countries to Oslo Science Park and filled our auditorium last week. That is very satisfactory and a milestone for those of us who has worked hard for establishing test facilities, she says.