Foreword of Hans Schikan

2018, the year of

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most adaptable to change.

Charles Darwin

According to Charles Darwin: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most adaptable to change’. When I look back at the Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) in 2018, the cross-cutting theme of transformation clearly emerges. Whereas the first five years since the inception of the Top Sector LSH by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy mainly revolved around alignment of knowledge institutions, industry, government, patient organisations and health foundations, 2018 was a year of transformation. The Top Sector approach transformed into a mission-driven innovation policy, with the focus on global societal challenges. The importance of the LSH sector and the robust, innovative solutions it can offer were unmistakably underlined when Health and Care was identified as one of the four central societal challenges embraced by our government.

An attractive life sciences climate

Another major transformation is the relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to Amsterdam in March 2019 due to the Brexit. Thanks to the arrival of this highly prestigious agency in our country, the Netherlands now has all the ingredients for a world-class hub for life sciences. It is the perfect home and partner for LSH companies from around the globe and some great life sciences companies have already decided to establish or expand their offices in the Netherlands, for example Kite Pharma, Janssen Vaccines, Sanofi and Alnylam. The arrival of EMA, in combination with an unrivalled concentration of LSH companies, world-class universities and a long history of strategic partnerships creates the perfect breeding ground for LSH innovation in Europe. The recently presented bid book from the joint Dutch biopharmaceutical community, clearly illustrates this potential.

From alignment...

The alignment in recent years has resulted in several long-term public-private partnerships as a growth engine for innovation and valorisation. Examples are Health Research Infrastructure (Health-RI), which aims to creating value for society by facilitating all steps in the process of health research. Or the new Dutch CardioVascular Alliance (DCVA) that is working on lowering cardiovascular disease burden by 25% in 2030. But also RegMed XB, which brings together many health foundations, top scientists, entrepreneurs and governments to cooperatively tackle ambitious challenges in regenerative medicine. In addition, various powerful and active citizens’ initiatives have been established on the premise that healthcare transformation is needed to move towards a system that is future-proof, affordable and continues to offer outstanding quality. With partners like ZonMw and the Association of Dutch Health Foundations, the Top Sector kicked-off a new transformative initiative called GROZ, which is the anagram of the Dutch word for care (ZORG). This initiative wants to revolutionise care with bottom-up initiatives from patients’ and citizens’ organisations. transformation

Transformations have also taken place at the Top Sector’s executive office. Firstly, the financial support potential has increased substantially with the growth of the Public Private Partnership Allowance to nearly 60 million euros. This offers numerous opportunities for new, collaborative research and development projects in the LSH sector. Secondly, the Health~Holland team has expanded and several new team members are ready to support all actors in our thriving community.

The year 2019 has only just begun, but with the ongoing commitment of all players in the LSH community, the Netherlands is at the threshold of a healthily flourishing ecosystem that will benefit citizens, patients, society at large and the economy.

I wish you a healthy, prosperous 2019!

Hans Schikan

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