The Health Valley Event (HVE) is said to be one of the most recommended meeting spots and exhibitions in the Netherlands to showcase solutions and exchange ideas on health innovations. The event is organized annually by the Health Valley ecosystem in Nijmegen. This year, about 1,000 delegates, including health and life science companies from 25 countries, doctors, educators, investors, policymakers and scientists, arrived in Pathe Nijmegen on 16 and 17 March 2022 to attend keynote speeches, matchmaking sessions and panel discussions. The delegates also had an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at the health solutions presented by international innovators at their stands. OuluHealth was part of the HVE together with five health and life science companies from the Oulu region: Monidor, Kipuwex, Paras Biopharmaceuticals, Innokas Medicals and Screentec.
Connect, challenge and grow
The motto of the HVE encouraged its participants to connect, challenge and grow. It refers to innovation and emphasizes that innovations work only when they are used by patients. It is the patient that every health innovator should listen to and focus on. The Health Valley ecosystem challenged everyone at the event to suggest ideas that could be used to achieve two main goals: 1) to ensure that we will live at least five years longer and in good health by 2040 and 2) to reduce the health differences between social classes by 30%.
To generate discussion, the agenda offered a choice of different sessions running on parallel tracks. The sessions tackled the challenges of healthcare and presented the newest trends in the health and life sciences sectors. Many of the sessions concluded that combining health technology and different fields of medicine with collaboration would secure better care for patients. The speakers highlighted that we need more referral systems to health facilities, prevention programmes and access to the right networks. This will support a change of habits in society and, in turn, lead to reducing the use of medication, increasing well-being and improving people’s overall physical condition. Health technology, of course, has a meaningful role in implementing advancements in healthcare, but encouraging people to change their way of thinking and offering the diverse health programmes that are available to as many people as possible is equally important.
One of the sessions that attracted the most participants was ‘Lessons that start-ups can embrace to successfully bring their innovations to hospitals.’ It provided companies working on the implementation of their solutions in the hospital environment with useful tips and tricks from hospital representatives. Asked for feedback, Lea Milovich, business development manager at Enschede, pointed to networking and focusing on those who are going to use the implemented product or service as the most important factors.
‘Start-ups should find out what a hospital’s daily challenges are and how their solutions can solve them, and secure healthcare savings at the same time,’ explained Milovich. She also highlighted the benefits of testing and piloting solutions to receive constructive feedback on their usability and user-friendliness.
The participants in the HVE were also eager to find out more about the concept of future hospitals. They received insights on future care and what it takes to transform a traditional hospital into a smarter hospital that is even more focused on patients’ needs. According to Anneke van Veen, a pulmonologist at Canisius Wilhelmina Ziekenhuis Hospital in Nijmegen, digital health will permanently change the relationship between patients and doctors, who will physically lose sight of patients and must learn to trust remote monitoring and remote tools.
‘The concept of hospitals without walls is no longer a vision but is becoming an everyday reality. Virtual wards and hybrid hospitals will treat patients, including those suffering from chronic diseases,’ said van Veen.
This year’s HVE was organized for the first time as a hybrid model. According to Kim van Baal, communications advisor at the Health Valley ecosystem, the model of a hybrid event worked very well, as it did not exclude those participants and speakers who, for various reasons, were unable to attend in person. This resulted in a high percentage of international visitors. Most of the sessions were also recorded and could be accessed after the event.
‘It has taken the HVE 13 years to get to where it is today. It takes an investment of time and the talent of the whole ecosystem to set up something like this. One of the key factors is to ensure that there is an equal representation of the whole ecosystem. We aim to have speakers representing different stakeholders – from industry, government and academia to healthcare professionals – on the stages and in the exhibition space,’ explained Victor Haze, Health Valley’s international ecosystem director.
At the forefront of future health
The OuluHealth and Health Valley ecosystems have cooperated for several years. Their representatives have worked together on initiatives that aim to connect Finland and the Netherlands, one of them being participation in the HVE. OuluHealth and Health Valley have much in common. They both focus on innovative digital health solutions that can improve the future health services available to citizens and support companies from their regions with growth and internationalization.
‘The connection between the Netherlands and Finland already exists. It is a matter of keeping each other informed of possible collaborations and market opportunities. The exchange of delegations and company visits is the first step in achieving this,’ said Haze.
OuluHealth was well-represented among the exhibitors at the HVE by Monidor, Kipuwex, Paras Biopharmaceuticals, Innokas Medicals and Screentec. The innovations they showcased at the stand attracted attention and stimulated discussion about their use in the healthcare sector.
‘We enjoyed our time in the land of tulips with friendly people and a cosy atmosphere. It was great to meet highly interesting individuals, partners, investors and customers who share the same mission: to improve healthcare worldwide,’ commented Titta Kuisma, chief marketing officer at Kipuwex.
The HVE 2022 provided a platform for constructive discussion about future health, the role of health technology and the urgent need to change people’s lifestyles. Attendees actively participated in sessions and contributed to their content. It was also an excellent opportunity for networking, looking for new partners and strengthening already established partnerships.
Text: Joanna Seppänen, Health & Life Science, BusinessOulu