A. Success Story: MVA Oncology Network
At the end of 2014, a process for a new strategy was initiated by the MVA Board of Directors in order to find a new direction for the organization and streamline its activities accordingly. For Medicon Valley and its triple helix stakeholders to be a serious contender in the highly competitive global life science race, the cluster needed to strengthen its ability to foster regional collaboration. At the same time there was a need to help reinforce the integration between Skåne and the Capital Region of Denmark through a distinct focus on our scientific strongholds. Today, MVA is the only organization dedicated to bringing Danish-Swedish life science together and the organization can be described as a marketplace where stakeholders can meet, exchange experience, join forces in projects, assimilate information, and visualize business potentials. MVA works for a deepened collaboration between Swedish-Danish research teams based on the region's scientific strongholds, such as for instance cancer research.
Cancer research is Europe’s fastest and largest growing field, with 23 % of first round venture investments being commanded by companies focused on this area. Seen from a regional perspective, oncology research is one of the areas were Medicon Valley has a competitive edge with several successful initiatives, such as CREATE Health, MAD for Cancer and Sino Danish Breast Cancer Research Center. Medicon Valley is also home to more than 25 organisations focusing on cancer research, which collectively have over 75 therapeutic compounds in the pipeline.
However, one of the major challenges for many of the region's oncology companies is that they are often small and underfinanced and several members of Medicon Valley Alliance, working with oncology have aired an interest in a forum for more specific professional and social networking within oncology. At MVA’s Annual Meeting in 2015, Prof. Nils Brünner at Copenhagen University and Prof. Carl Borrebaeck at Lund University called for action and the idea of an MVA Oncology Network was born!
In the following months, MVA started to work close together with the two professors with the ambition to launch the new network focusing on best practice, experience and current challenges for public-private collaboration and the path from preclinical findings to clinical trials and product to market in the Medicon Valley region. The long-term vision is to see a new Astra or Genmab emerge in the region, and the MVA Oncology Network should be seen as the first step to stimulate new cross-border collaborations and to bridge the gap between industry and academia within the field of cancer research.
In September 2016, professors, PI’s and corporate level executives from the regional oncology eco-system, were invited to the first meeting in MVA Oncology Network. 65 participants attended the first meeting and 90 participants registered for the second meeting in January 2017. The high interest and the positive feedback indicate that the MVA Oncology Network is here to stay and forms a valuable contribution to the realization of MVA’s new strategy.
Participation is free of charge for Medicon Valley Alliance member companies and organizations. Non-member organizations and companies are welcome to attend one event to evaluate if membership of the network is relevant. By becoming a member of Medicon Valley Alliance, organizations will automatically be able to join the MVA Oncology Network.
The network will meet three times a year with agendas to be decided on an ongoing basis by the network participants. As a rule, the meetings will be hosted by the members of the network, and on special occasions by Medicon Valley Alliance.
B. Success Story: ReproUnion – World Leading in Overcoming Infertility
ReproUnion is a cross border collaboration between Sweden and Denmark within the area of reproductive medicine in the Oresund Region, funded by EU Interreg V. The collaborative network consists of 14 clinical and research units within the Capital Region of Denmark, Region Zealand of Denmark and Region Skåne in Southern Sweden. The partnership also includes Medicon Valley Alliance, Lund University, University of Copenhagen and Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Our vision is to become world leading in overcoming infertility by developing a Swedish-Danish center for innovation and research within reproductive medicine. Based on a multi-disciplinary concept, ReproUnion will meet the future demands of managing and preventing infertility problems.
We will accomplish our vision by increasing the number of researchers in the Oresund Region as well as establish a ReproUnion Management Unit with one point of entry for partners, researchers and industries. Through this unit, we will be able to streamline and improve systems and common procedures for the industry, regions and patients. This will ensure greater efficiency, higher academic standards and more effective use of our common resources.
Critical mass and the management unit
Historically, the Medicon Valley area has a high international position within reproductive medicine, in relation to patient management and research. In the ReproUnion project, MVA has played an important role by gathering and strengthen the partners at the public hospitals, the academic institutions and the industry in a strong partnership, in order to maintain and develop our position in the field. The collaboration has resulted in one of the largest and most ambitious Interreg V funded projects in the region’s history.
MVA is hosting the ReproUnion Management Unit that coordinates the contacts to the industry, regional authorities, universities, students, the public and researchers in- and outside the region. MVA ensures a holistic perspective without specific national interests and holds the important contact to the industry, which is key factors in achieving the project.
Through the Management Unit, we can streamline and improve systems and common procedures for the industry, regions and patients, which ensures greater efficiency, higher academic standards and more effective use of the common resources. The establishment of the collaboration in the ReproUnion projects does also create a long term sustainable partnership and ensures a critical mass and volume, necessary for performing high quality research.
C. Success Story: State of Medicon Valley
There is a demand for high quality data that demonstrates the crucial importance of the life science sector for the Swedish and Danish economies and the growth in the Oresund Region. There is an ongoing public debate on how the two nations can improve their competitiveness and develop the economies into being truly innovative/knowledge driven. In these discussions, life science is often highlighted as a knowledge intensive sector that historically has generated growth, jobs and innovative healthcare solutions for Sweden and Denmark. Many discuss the importance of the industry and the specific companies, but often there is no appropriate data to document these claims. Nevertheless, it is very important to have hard facts when arguing why political initiatives, growth plans, etc. — often tied to substantial financial resources — should be directed towards the life science sector.
One of the biggest challenges for realizing the long-term goal for the analysis work is that it is very costly. Another aggravating circumstance is the fact that there are no clear statistical definitions between Sweden and Denmark. Further, there already exist several actors, who in various ways are working with analysing and documenting the development across the Oresund region from a strict national perspective.
As part of the new MVA strategy, MVA established a new cooperation for the analysis work with Øresundsintituttet (Øi). Øi is an independent Danish/Swedish knowledge centre, which through analysis, conferences and media contributes to increased awareness about the development in the Øresund Region. MVA and Øi have a lot in common. For instance, both organizations are non-profit and member-financed cross-border platforms and represent a regional triple helix structure through their member base. During 2014, Øi has worked on a strategy that promotes independent analysis and knowledge communication as core business, and cooperation as an important part of their business. The basis for establishing a partnership between MVA and Øi is to create cooperation, which will result in an increased amount and improved quality of the analysis work of the region. Through specialization between the organizations, Øi and MVA have created a flexible and constructive collaboration that strengthen the cross-border added value across Øresund with the following focus:
• To further increase the quality of the analysis work
• To create more cost effective and flexible analyses
• To avoid internal competition between different Oresund platforms
MVA will publish the analysis about Medicon Valley to inform decision-makers about the vital contribution that organizations in Medicon Valley make to the national and regional economies. This will help ensure that decision-makers at all levels provide optimal conditions for the life science community of the region. MVA publish the "State of Medicon Valley" analysis once a year, e.g. in connection to the MVA Annual Meeting. The analysis provides a comprehensive view on the importance of Medicon Valley as a driver for regional and national growth. The second strategic element consists of 1-2 special reports that will shed light on selected therapeutic areas or trends affecting the life science ecosystem in Medicon Valley. MVA's analysis will differentiate itself from many other (national) analyses by covering aspects that affect the entire ecosystem of Medicon Valley, not just the business aspect or the academic aspects, but provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the state of the ecosystem and a measurement of the many different parameters that affect the attractiveness of the Medicon Valley cluster.
“Documenting how Medicon Valley is doing in comparison with other clusters will provide the information needed to address current or emerging challenges.”