Thinking outside the box and beyond national borders
04.09.2009 Thinking outside the box and beyond national borders
The key players of the STERN BioRegion in Germany and Pôle Technologique de Haute-Champagne (PTHC) in France are in agreement that the step from knowledge-based research to application increasingly demands international orientation and cooperation strategies. The two regions’ transnational cooperation project was one of ten winners of a competition for cluster cooperation projects run by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) that are now receiving funding. The aim is to unlock potential synergies between existing regional medtech networks in order to boost the innovative strength, market opportunities and international competitiveness of the German and French companies involved. As the STERN BioRegion and PTHC see it, areas of potential cooperation include the surface treatment of metals and other materials used in medical technology. PTHC covers the Haute-Champagne region in the area enclosed by the three cities of Troyes, Nancy and Dijon. It is the first port of call in France for the manufacture and surface treatment of medtech products and last year founded Pro+MeD, a cluster for prostheses and medical devices. This is a response to the great research and development potential that has resulted from the above-average growth of the medtech market. The Pro+MeD cluster comprises a total of 35 medtech companies, including internationally renowned firms such as GreatBatch Medical, Marle and Aesculap-France, as well as institutions such as the Regional Centre of Innovation and Technology Transfer for Material, Coating and Surface Treatment (CRITT-MDTS) and engineering schools such as the Technological University of Troyes (UTT). They are involved in activities such as the development and surface treatment of new, longer-lasting prostheses and tracking the use of medtech instruments using RFID chips to lower risks in operating theatres throughout the product lifespan.
These are issues that are also of major interest to the STERN BioRegion in its role as a biotech and medtech competence network covering the cities/regions of Stuttgart, Tübingen, Esslingen, Reutlingen and Neckar-Alb. The successful network includes around 90 biotech and 120 medtech companies, three universities and numerous research institutes – including the NMI (Natural and Medical Sciences Institute) in Reutlingen, the IGB (Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology) and the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research – thereby creating an interface between basic research and industrial application. One particular area of focus is the biologisation of medical technology by combining innovative biotech applications with established medtech products. The STERN BioRegion’s outstanding areas of expertise include instruments for minimally invasive surgery, retina implants, drug-coated vascular prostheses and artificial tissue and organs.
"As we see it, interregional cooperation offers the potential to share specialist know-how and profit from each other’s strengths so that this knowledge can be turned into future-oriented products that work to everyone’s benefit," states Dr. Klaus Eichenberg, Managing Director of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH.
This German-French cooperation is not simply intended to help develop and market new bio-medtech products or treatments, though. Another important objective is to encourage close cooperation between research institutes in the two regions as well as between the companies located there. "The STERN BioRegion and Pôle Technologique de Haute-Champagne overlap and complement each other in many key areas so that our cooperation will create a win-win situation for both networks," states Dr. Ing. Régis Flot, President of the Association pour le Pôle Technologique de Haute-Champagne.
The key players expect the synergies, knowledge transfer and intensive networking to create significant added value for the European medtech markets – in particular in terms of competition with companies from the Far East. Initial company presentations and cooperation meetings will take place in autumn 2009 at events such as business roundtables in France and Germany so as to achieve successful, long-term cooperation as quickly as possible.
Companies and research institutes who are interested in participating should get in touch directly with BioRegio STERN Management GmbH in Germany or the Pôle Technologique de Haute-Champagne in France.