Press on together
“We have proved wrong the notion that universities and university medical centers should not or could not be engaged in public-private partnership or the valorization of research results. In the past we received much criticism, often – if not always – true, but we have come a long way. The quality of our valorization efforts and organizations is much improved. Academic institutes are determined to break with splendid isolation and direct competition even further and pursue even greater collaboration and professionalization.
It is important to both recognize the progress made and press on with more. I strongly agree with the topsector plan that investment in public-private partnerships must continue and I welcome signs that the government is planning to do its part – but not from resources for basic research (e.g. through the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO). That would defeat the very purpose of public-private partnership as an engine for innovation, by depriving it of fuel: the scientific ideas it needs to run on. We must continue to invest and increase our investment in both, whether economic circumstances allow it or not. In healthcare especially, innovation drives both growth and savings.
We have taken big strides in terms of sector organization, too. The Regiegroep and its forerunner, the High Profile Group, have established good communication with the sector at large. Its members are both content-driven and close to the reality of everyday clinical and industry practice. That is good. Also, the scope has broadened to include the entire field. In the past, the High Profile Group was criticized for focusing too much on pharmaceutical innovation and biotech, but both medtech and clinical practice have since been represented in force.
One concern remains. We should be careful not to isolate ourselves from other sectors. ICT, agro-food and others may compete for the same limited public resources, but they are also natural partners for healthcare innovation. Foodstuff companies can benefit strongly from Dutch pharma experience and expertise in public health. ICT can have a major role in healthy ageing by developing appliances and communication solutions that enable and support self-management and distributed care (e-health). There are so many great ideas – but we will only get them to work if we press on together.
Keep up and team up
- Keep up investment in both public-private partnerships and basic science
- Further increase collaboration and professionalization in the sector
- Reach out to other sectors, especially ICT and agro-food
Eduard Klasen is a member of the executive board of Leiden University Medical Center. Before that he was director general at the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). He chairs the supervisory board of the Netherlands Proteomics Centre, is vice-chair of the supervisory board of the Diabetes Fund and is a member of the Advisory Council for Science and Technology Policy, alongside many other advisory, administrative and supervisory roles in Dutch science and healthcare.