Technology clusters can generate many benefits for the companies involved, from cost savings to research collaboration. We highlight the most important European medtech hubs.
Identifying the most important medical technology clusters is, to some extent, a subjective activity, as there are different views on what the purpose of such a cluster is or how its success can be measured. Does it need to generate cost or efficiency benefits for its residents? Is a high concentration of medtech companies in a region sufficient to constitute a cluster, or does it need large-scale cooperation between local companies, research institutes and clinics as well as a rich supply of start-up companies? Certainly, the ideal cluster would have all of these elements: an excellent manufacturer and supplier backbone, access to first-rate clinics, universities and research facilities, a high number of technology start-ups, and easy access to funding.
With its ‘learning factory’ training centres, campuses, incubators, the Grand Est area of France is home to two world-class medtech clusters: the Alsace Biovalley, which specializes in keyhole surgery and medical implants, and the medical micro-techniques cluster in Franche-Comté. These two regions of the Grand Est area of France alone generate an annual turnover of 932 million euros.
Alsace is home to 150 medtech companies. Five new medtech start-ups a year are set up in this small region of France. “The University of Strasbourg, ranked 17th for chemistry and 51st for life sciences in the latest Shanghai rankings, gives us a world-class research centre,” explains Séverine Sigrist, president of the Alsace Biovalley cluster. The cluster concentrates on research in seveeral strategic fields: robotic keyhole surgery and robotics in general, implantable medical devices, simulation and modelling tools, drug delivery and neuroscience. “Our biocluster helps companies set up collaborative projects, from design to end products, and makes it easier to raise funds and find new business,” continues Sigrist. The Alsace Biovalley has been behind 492 regional collaborative projects, over the past ten years. Eight medetch companies in the region, including five accredited innovation cluster start-ups, have benefited from a 32 million-euro R&D budget, i.e. an average of €1.5 million per medtech company. This, for example, enabled Defymed, which has designed an artificial pancreas, to obtain €1.2 million in 2013.
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