9.6. 2014 BioTurku®

Baltic Sea Health Summit explored the future of the health sector

Experts speaking at the Baltic Sea Health Summit emphasised the importance of biotechnology in future health care innovations. International networking was considered the key to business success and obtaining financing. The seminar itself sparked new partnerships through an expert partnering event. The first Baltic Sea Health Summit was organised by Turku Science Park Ltd in connection with the Turku Baltic Sea Days.

Siegfried Bialojan, a leading European expert in life sciences, shared his views on the current financial situation in the field of health technology at the Baltic Sea Health Summit.

One of the key themes of the Baltic Sea Health Summit was the future of financing in the bio sector. Siegfried Bialojan, a leading European expert in life sciences, shared his views on the current financial situation in the field of health technology. According to Bialojan, the capital ecosystem in the health technology sector in the United States is healthy while the European capital market is stagnant. Europe is suffering from a shortage of investment capital which has led to innovations draining to the United States where listing on a stock exchange is a practical way for companies to secure financing. Bialojan sent a clear message about funding to entrepreneurs in the field.

– Life science is a risky sector but not hopeless in terms of financing. I would like to challenge all those looking for investors to boldly look outside their home countries and expand their networks globally. That is the best way to find the right partners, says Bialojan, the head of the Ernst & Young Life Science Center.

Biotechnology as a driver of health care innovation

Bialojan predicts that in the near future developments in the health and bio sector will increasingly centre around the patient. Biotechnology is constantly producing new innovations that improve the quality of treatment given to patients.

– We will see a more holistic approach to health care. It will no longer be just about developing pharmaceuticals. Instead, the approach will be broader, covering the development of medicines, diagnostics, medical equipment and health services so that the patient is the starting point in all activities, Bialojan predicts.

– The rise of biotechnology can also be seen in the development of pharmaceuticals: seven out of the ten best-selling drugs in the world are biopharmaceutical products.

Challenges in emerging countries

Ravi Kumar, a founder of an Indian diagnostics company, continued discussing the importance of biotechnology from the viewpoint of emerging markets. According to Kumar, affordable biotechnological solutions could help in preventing and detecting diseases and in treating them.

– The main challenge in preventing diseases in emerging countries is that the environment is polluted and antibiotics are over- and misused. This leads to new forms of diseases, says Kumar, the managing director of Xcyton Diagnostics.

– Biotechnology plays a particularly large role in health care. I believe that antibiotics are not the final solution. In our biosphere, there are thousands of proteins that could be used to fight diseases. We just have not tried hard enough to find the answers in biology, Kumar says.

Strong ecosystem the key to the success of the bio sector in Turku

The experts gathered at the Baltic Sea Health Summit considered the seminar a valuable opportunity for exchanging views and building networks. Bialojan thinks Turku is a great place for organising the summit since the city has a leading bio cluster.

– In Turku, people have understood the precondition for a successful bio cluster: strong co-operation among basic research institutions, hospitals and businesses. A similar ecosystem that builds on interaction is actually the secret behind the success of clusters in any field, Bialojan says.

Kumar calls for deeper co-operation also between India and the Baltic Sea Region.

– What is interesting in the Baltic Sea Region is that the countries are so different: for example, the Baltic states and the Nordic countries have different economic situations and are in different stages in terms of political development. This is a strong advantage in co-operation within the region, says Kumar.

– At present, there are not enough partnerships between India and the Baltic Sea countries. I would like to see the parties increasingly seize opportunities for co-operation, Kumar continues.

One of the themes discussed at the Baltic Sea Health Summit was increasing co-operation among Finland, Europe and Russia. Zakhar Golant, representing the St. Petersburg pharmaceutical cluster and the union of pharmaceutical clusters in Russia, found potential for co-operation particularly in activities concerning regulation and quality as well as in education and training provided in these areas. Joint efforts in these fields would help to increase collaboration between businesses and promote the movement of products.

The Baltic Sea Health Summit 2014 was held 3–5 June in connection with the Turku Baltic Sea Days. The summit attracted more than 150 participants from Finland, other Nordic countries, Estonia and Russia. The event  was organised for the first time this year, but the aim is to develop the Baltic Sea Health Summit into an annual health and bio sector summit held in Turku.