Foreword of Hans Schikan

Healthy Sustainability

By looking back, you see how far you’ve come

For the Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH), 2017 was yet again an eventful year. With lots of progress, many new partnerships, more stakeholders involved and numerous achievements.

The decision that the European Medicines Agency will come to Amsterdam was a welcome cherry on the cake. On the other hand, there were also moments of sadness. The passing away of our chairman Jan Raaijmakers in October 2017 came as a shock. In his foreword of the 2016 Year in Review magazine, Jan looked back and concluded that the ever-increasing collaboration between the Netherlands' cutting-edge scientists and industry-leading entrepreneurs will fuel the innovative power of the Dutch LSH sector for the years to come. This 2017 Year in Review magazine focuses on ‘Healthy Sustainability’ and offers an overview of last year’s results. Jan would have been proud of how far we’ve come.

The stars are aligned

With a growing economy, outstanding scientific progress, a climate of ambitious entrepreneurship and a new fresh government in place, everything seems aligned to foster the further growth of the Top Sector LSH. Thanks to a consistent, continuous focus on partnerships – between scientists and entrepreneurs, between national and regional stakeholders, between health foundations, patient organisations and companies, between ministries and institutions – we can work together to combine societal challenges with economic benefits in a sustainable manner. At New Year’s Eve one of the most cited wishes is a healthy, happy life. The majority of the nearly 12,000 questions raised by curious citizens in the 2015 Dutch National Research Agenda were related to health. Life Sciences and Health are quite rightfully a top priority. The scientific progress in our Top Sector is enormous. Every day we read about new breakthroughs. The economic and societal opportunities are huge.

Healthy sustainability

Innovation in Life Sciences & Health and sustainability go hand in hand. Thanks to innovation we will be able to reap the benefits of working more efficiently and more effectively. Innovative products and services can contribute to a better healthcare. They can also lead to a more affordable healthcare, perhaps not always directly in the short term, but certainly when assessed over a longer period taking all perspectives into consideration. Sustainable health and healthy sustainability are important drivers for the Top Sector Life Sciences & Health. In partnership with all stakeholders we can make a meaningful contribution in tackling the global societal challenge Health & Care and really make a difference for generations to come.

The Netherlands across the borders

Also in 2017, representatives of our Top Sector attended many international events. We have been promoting the Dutch Life Sciences & Health sector and our excellent climate for innovation at numerous exhibitions and fairs as well as during trade missions. Now that the European Medicines Agency will come to the Netherlands, the future is even brighter still. Not only because of the 900 highly educated EMA employees or the nearly 40,000 visitors annually, but also because of the pull effect which a prestigious agency like EMA has on companies who want to establish their headquarters close to the regulatory authority. As a consequence, we are convinced that the Netherlands will further strengthen its position as a hot spot on the global Life Sciences & Health map.

Outlook for 2018

As for 2018, we will continue to focus on the same priorities as in 2017. By promoting partnerships between all stakeholders in our thriving top sector, we want to help tackle the societal challenge of Health & Care and simultaneously benefit from the economic opportunities in doing so. We strongly believe that collaboration, innovation and sustainability go very well together and that the quadruple helix of knowledge institutes, companies, patient organisations and governmental institutions provides a solid basis for a healthy sustainable future.

I gladly repeat Jan Raaijmakers’ words of one year ago: “We are proud to look back at many activities in this Year in Review magazine. We hope it will inspire you as much as it inspires me!”

Hans Schikan

Chairman a.i. of the Top Sector Life Sciences & Health