Collaboration boosts health technology growth
Globally recognised Finnish health technology is the largest industrial high-tech export segment in the country. It employs about 10,000 professionals and its export rose to €2.11 billion in 2016, an increase of 9.7% over the prior year. Oulu is no exception in that respect. With 25% of all health technology companies based in this city and export turnover rising by 31% in just five years, Oulu is the second biggest health technology centre in Finland.
Academia and industry partners gathered on 16 August at Tellus innovationarena at the University of Oulu to discuss strengthening growth and further collaboration in the health sector. The workshop, which was organized by the University of Oulu and the Centre for Health & Technology (CHT), provided an excellent opportunity to learn more about the projects carried out at the university, exchange ideas and network with other professionals.
The representatives of organizations, such as Healthtech Finland, Team Finland and Tekes gave presentations about the way they support new business ideas and help companies in development and internationalization processes. They presented, for example, financing opportunities and gave a lot of practical advice on entering international markets.
According to Saara Hassinen from Healthtech Finland, success always lies in cooperation. Research and company collaboration has always played a key role in the health technology growth process.
‘’Numerous start-ups have been established. They bring in new technologies and fresh business ideas. Competing doesn’t work for anybody’s credit. Neither a company nor a region can benefit from it. Cooperation is the key solution for small and medium-sized companies. Bigger enterprises can establish ecosystems to create new concepts and solutions more effectively,’’ Hassinen says.
‘’Global markets are big enough for everyone to find own place and bring own products to,’’ Aherto, a Team Finland representative, adds.
The OuluHealth ecosystem is a perfect example of how cooperation and partnerships produce great results in a relatively short period of time. This world-class innovative platform has facilitated open collaboration between experts from healthcare, the natural sciences, information technology, academia and business. The ecosystem supports introducing better healthcare services, contributes to creating work places in the region and offers companies opportunities, for example, to test products, gain international visibility as well as find business partners.
The workshop also emphasised Oulu University’s strong expertise in health-related research. The event participants learnt about university-industry collaboration models and connected to them most important projects. Some of them were presented by Teemu Myllylä, a leader of the Health & Wellness Measurements Research Group. They relate, for example, to the multimodal brain sensor used in treatment of dementia or histopathology and in vivo measuring that can be utilized also in treatment of cancer. A doctoral student, Aleksei Tiulpin, explained how his team has worked on early diagnostics of osteoarthritis. Although there is no effective cure for this disease, their research that includes a proof-of-concept experiment may help to control or even slow it down.
During the second part of the workshop, discussions continued in small groups. With such a vibrant and mixed range of experts under one roof, new ideas are very likely to appear.