Finland – Kuopio Health Ecosystem is ECHAlliance Ecosystem of the Month – April

14th April 2022

This month we are excited to be able to feature the Kuopio Health Ecosystem as our Ecosystem of the Month.

Andy Bleaden, Our Communities Director, highlights: “‘Thriving’ is certainly a word I would use to describe the Kuopio Health Ecosystem – they have built rapidly a strong and stable ecosystem and we were really pleased when they agreed to join our Finnish ECHAlliance Network of Ecosystems – one region to keep an eye on.”

What is the approximate stakeholder breakdown of your ecosystem?

The Kuopio Health Open Innovation Ecosystem is a thriving international community dedicated to improving health and wellness through collaborative innovation. 

While our approach is built on three pillars – insight, collaboration, and contribution – the heart of the Kuopio Health ecosystem is the multidisciplinary joint venture itself, Kuopio Health Co-op. Kuopio Health Co-op combines entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, and educational, medical and governmental experts who have a thirst for solving the world’s vital health problems

Since its establishment in 2019, the Kuopio Health Co-op has been the coordinator and facilitator of the ecosystem. Currently, we have 30 members coming from various health, wellbeing and nutrition sectors. University of Eastern Finland, Savonia University of Applied sciences, City of Kuopio, Kuopio University Hospital, and VTT Technical Research Center of Finland are the big public sector members representing top level research and clinical expertise in Finland. The 25 different sized company members range from startups to big enterprises representing various industrial sectors such as pharma development, CRO, ICT and health data solutions, med-tech, MDR, nutrition, and even venture funding.                

Who are the top 3 champions from your Ecosystem?

It is very hard to pick only three, but here we mention a few champions who are coming from different health areas and are in different development phases and sizes. 

FinVector is the world leader in R&D and cGMP manufacturing of viral-based gene therapy products. Their state-of-the-art facilities, highly experienced scientific team, and commitment to work closely with clients every step of the way, have helped them to build an excellent reputation in the gene therapy market. They are authorised under the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the production of gene therapy products for clinical and commercial supply.

Kuopio Center for Gene and Cell Therapy (KCT) is a limited company in Finland performing high-quality basic and translational research. KCT was founded in 2017. Their highly professional teams and high tech laboratories equipped with the latest cutting-edge devices enable them to provide the scientific know-how and modern technologies to develop advanced therapies.

Adamant Health provides a better quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Adamant Health’s novel and innovative technology enables accurate analysis of movement disorders in the home environment.

Productivity Leap is a new, agile ICT company whose solutions bring the customers’ productivity to a new level. They offer IT services, products and consulting that enhance processes and resource usage and sharing. They are convinced that new technologies and agile methods reduce costs, improve quality and speed up operations. 

What EU funding/collaboration are you involved with, or you would like to be part of?

Since its launch in 2019, Kuopio Health as an innovation ecosystem cooperative has used EU ERDF funding to develop our organization and services. 

In addition, we are a partner in a recently submitted proposal for a EU funding call related to European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs). The proposal, HealtHub Finland, is focused on leading the digital transformation of healthcare through data-driven innovation. There are also other very interesting open funding calls for innovation ecosystem development in the EU programmes. Particularly, the EU’s Coordination and Support Actions are especially well aligned with our model of operation.

We think that we can strengthen any project proposal by adding a location with a high-level of digital and mobile competency, throughout the society as well as among the citizens and patients.

Furthermore, Finland has been one of the pioneers in health-related digitalization. National health registries have been held in databases since the 1960s. Today, the 100% population penetration in electronic health records (EHR) makes our health data quite unique in terms of breadth and depth. This is a tempting starting point e.g. for clinical drug trials, in which health data nowadays plays a crucial role.

Naturally, our members are also active in international innovation programmes, especially our research organization members have participated in or coordinated many EU projects and programs.

What are the key priorities and themes for your ecosystem?

We are very strong in the gene, cell and nano therapy development, medical imaging, development of novel digital and AI solutions for the health sector, neuro sciences, metabolic diseases, effectiveness of health sector, musculoskeletal diseases, cardiovascular diseases, multidisciplinary cancer research, drug discovery and delivery technologies.

The hottest topic is the health data and the secondary usage of it. Meaning, how can we utilize various health data to for example make efficient drug development or test novel medtech products. A unique aspect of Kuopio’s data lake is the integrated data from social care to basic and special health care. These data and analytics can be provided in a fast way to various industries and customers.

What is your primary strength as an ecosystem?

Kuopio Health Co-op is a joint venture with the public and private sector, placing companies in the center and with public organizations offering the platform, facilities, knowledge and support to development of company members.

Kuopio Health Co-op funding is coming mainly from membership fees, and we are not a project organization. We are only participating in projects that support our strategy, so the projects are not guiding our focus. Members get pure added value to their membership fees. 

Who are your clinical champions, either hospitals, clinicians, specialities?

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