TU/e in European consortium with EU support (KIC) for healthcare innovation

InnoLife, a collective of a total of 144 European companies and institutes including TU/e, has been selected by the EU for the ‘KIC Health’. This was announced on 9 December by the EU. KICs are ‘Knowledge and Innovation Communities’ that are intended to make Europe more innovative and to increase its competitive strength. The InnoLife partners will develop innovations focusing on a healthy living and improved healthcare. To do this, InnoLife will receive funding of around 80 million euros per year from the EU in the period from 2015 to 2020.

TU/e is one of the 54 main partners of InnoLife. Peter Hilbers, the dean who leads the TU/e participation in InnoLife, underlines how special this is: “We’ve been working since 2009 on this unique opportunity for TU/e to profile ourselves in Europe in the field of Health. And we’re also working together with partners in the Brainport region including the ‘Slimmer Leven’ cooperative, the City of Eindhoven and Brainport Development.” Other main partners in the Netherlands are Philips Electronics, Achmea, Medtronic and the Erasmus University Medical Center. The head office of InnoLife will be located in Munich, and one of the six ‘co-locations’ will be based in Rotterdam.

Health is one of the TU/e focal areas, and the participation in InnoLife will provide TU/e with a valuable European network of companies and knowledge institutes. In addition, the involvement is expected to provide access to a global network or partners, and to lead to more market ready innovative products and start-ups. This is important because valorization, the transfer of scientific knowledge, is one of the three primary tasks of TU/e.

The EU is financing a quarter of the total costs of the KICs, with the partners themselves bearing the rest. One of the purposes of the EU contribution is to ensure that the research is converted into innovations. The next step is now for the InnoLife partners to define projects. According to Hilbers, this will in many cases involve existing research projects, which will now have access to extra funding to accelerate the market introduction of new knowledge and technology. The InnoLife partners also include education programs. It has not yet been decided exactly which projects will fall under InnoLife, so the amount of the subsidy for each partner is not yet known.

The EU has been setting up Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) since 2008, with the aim of making Europe more innovative. Among the tasks of the KICs are to bridge the gap between education and innovation, leading ultimately to economic growth. The EU has made available total funding of 3 billion euros for the period from 2008 to 2020. European consortia consisting of companies and parties in higher education and research can submit competitive plans for the KICs. The first three KICs started in 2009 focusing on climate, ICT and sustainable energy. This year the EU awards two KICs: one for materials and one for health. The TU/e consortium, InnoLife, is the winner of this latter KIC.

It is noteworthy that TU/e is now a main partner in three of the five KICs so far, as is Delft University of Technology. Besides InnoLife, TU/e is also a main participant in two other KICs: InnoEnergy (sustainable energy) and EIT ICT Labs (ICT). The participation in these consortia is also expected to benefit TU/e-applications for EU research funding, because participation in broadly based consortia is an EU requirement.