Start on time with building the ideal consortium for Horizon Europe

 

In the latest edition of BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences ttopstart explains the importance of starting on time with building a consortium in Horizon Europe projects.

Introduction

The new €2.4 billion European Innovative Health Initiative (IHI), part of the Horizon Europe programme, aims for more cooperation between sectors. Parties in Pharma, Medtech, BioTech, AI and imaging from various countries will be working together on healthcare related solutions – a major challenge. ttoppstart director, Sietske Zagers: “We have a lot of experience in bringing together very diverse parties. Without that connection, there is no impact.”

Since spring 2021, Sietske Zagers has been the director of ttopstart, the consultancy company in the field of life sciences & health, part of PNO Consultants. A conscious choice. “Almost everyone knows of someone in their environment that has been seriously ill. I have also lost loved ones too soon. Perhaps that would not have  happened if the appropriate care had been provided on time. Knowledge and innovations remain unused or even lying around unused for too long. These are all opportunities for patients to recover, or to become better sooner. With ttopstart, I want to contribute to this acceleration. To have a faster and greater impact on people’s lives together with researchers, companies, the government, patients, and doctors. Making the right connections with and between partners gives me a lot of energy.”

Innovative Health Initiative

This emphasis on collaboration for greater impact is also reflected in the new European Innovative Health Initiative (total budget: 2.4 billion euros of which half is from the European Commission and half from industry partners). The first calls are expected in the first half of 2022. In a time where health systems are under pressure and we still do not have an effective treatment for many diseases, there is an urgent need for an innovative, more integrated approach of health research and healthcare. The number of participating industry associations is therefore also larger and broader than in IMI. In addition to the main IMI partner EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations), COCIR (Medical Imaging, radiotherapy, health ICT and electro-medical industries), EuropaBio (biotechnology industry), Vaccines Europe and MedTech Europe (medical technology industry) also contribute to financing. Bringing the right partners together is crucial. ttopstart has already acquired more than 10 years experience in IMI projects. One example is the 5-year OPTIMA (Optimal Treatment for Patients with Solid Tumours in Europe Through Artificial Intelligence) project, a € 21.3 million public-private research programme, involving 36 multidisciplinary stakeholders at clinical, academic, patient, regulatory, data science, legal, ethical and pharmaceutical level. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care for patients with prostate, breast and lung cancer, by developing the first interoperable, GDPR-compliant real-world oncology data and evidence platform in Europe. The duration of the project is 5 years. Sietske: “We often notice in such a consortium that after some time, the focus is no longer on the common final objective. Everyone is busy focusing on their own work package which results in all boxes being ticked, but the social impact, the benefit to patients, is not achieved. We have developed a set of best practices to prevent this from happening. ttopstart’s connecting role is also evident in consortia in which we participate as programme manager.”

Not for the short term

“We like to ensure for long-term commitments with our strategic accounts. We see our customers as partners, with whom we look at long-term goals and how they can be achieved. Where do they get stuck and how can we solve them together? This connecting aspect also means that we are not trying to raise as many funds as possible for as many clients as possible, pay up and move on to the next. Instead, we are here to strategically help clients find the right funding opportunity. This requires us to have an up-to-date and high-quality overview of the funding landscape. We share this knowledge in the public online Funding Database which we set up together with HollandBio.”

Team ttopstart

Zagers also sees her own drive – to provide customers with the best possible service – reflected within the ttopstart team. “The type of account management that we offer requires a diverse and driven team: juniors, seniors, men, women of various nationalities and disciplines, doers, and thinkers. I am very proud of the team, not only of their contributions to the success of our customers, but also in the way they do it: together, by making use of each other’s expertise and experience. It is truly a flexible and professional team that moves quickly and adequately with our customers and partners. An open culture, in which we learn from one another and in which one can develop is very important for our type of service provision. This is how we are able to  surprise each other and our customers with our service.”

“We are experts in all three of our service lines (Academic, Business and Programme Leadership), but what sets us apart as ttopstart, is that we connect the three. We bring researchers, entrepreneurs and stakeholders together to work on sustainable solutions in healthcare. This will also be a big challenge for parties in IHI. How do you find the right consortium partners in these sectors, which are still often isolated? How do you make sure that you are at the right table at the right time? How do you align your goals with those of others. Zagers: “My advice: start on time! With some of our strategic accounts we are already discussing how we are going to build the ideal consortium together.”

“We are experts in all three of our service lines (Academic, Business and Programme Leadership), but what sets us apart as ttopstart, is that we connect the three. We bring  researchers, entrepreneurs and stakeholders together to work on sustainable solutions in healthcare. This will also be a big challenge for parties in IHI. How do you find the right consortium partners in these sectors, which are still often isolated? How do you make sure that you are at the right table at the right time? How do you align your goals with those of others. Zagers: “My advice: start on time! With some of our strategic accounts we are already discussing how we are going to build the ideal consortium together.”

– SIETSKE ZAGERS

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