On 9 December, the European Union, by means of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), announced the winner of the call for the new knowledge and innovation community (KIC) in healthy living and active ageing. The winning project is InnoLife, a proposal led in Spain by the University of Barcelona (UB) —by means of its health sciences campus, HUBc, and supported by Biocat. Spanish InnoLife headquarters will be located at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB).
InnoLife is a consortium of more than 144 leading businesses, research centres and universities from fourteen European countries. With a total volume of 2.1 billion euros it is one of the largest public funded initiatives for health worldwide. In 2016, InnoLife expects to incubate approximately eighty new business ideas, rising to 140 in 2018. It aims to create seventy start-ups per year and have one million students taking part in its educational online programmes.
InnoLife co-location centers will be in Spain, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. InnoLife’s headquarters in Barcelona will provide access to European funds for education and innovation projects.
Dídac Ramírez, rector of the UB, considers that this granting is “one of the most important” challenges faced by the University during the last five years. He emphasizes that “InnoLife headquarters in Barcelona prove that the UB is doing a great job in the field of health”.
Josep Samitier, professor of Electronics from the UB, director of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and one of the representatives of the project, affirms that “to lead a centre of a KIC in health enables us to take part in an European alliance of knowledge and entrepreneurship that will promote Catalan and Spanish economics by creating new technologies, services and posts”.
Montserrat Vendrell, director of Biocat and PCB, says that the election of InnoLife values “the great effort made by many organizations and companies committed to innovation; now, they will have a tool to develop their projects”.
Finally, Jordi Alberch, vice-rector for Research, Innovation and Transfer of the UB, declares that InnoLife “is a unique opportunity to profit our research assets and set the basis of a new way of researching, closer to society and the business world”.
InnoLife will enable citizens to lead healthier and more productive lives by delivering products, services and concepts that will improve quality of life and contribute to the sustainability of healthcare across Europe.
The UB and Biocat have driven and coordinated the participation of Catalan and Spanish institutions in InnoLife candidacy. InnoLife partners include major companies like Siemens Healthcare, Roche Diagnostics, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Intel, and world’s top universities, such as the Imperial College London, the University of Oxfort, the University Pierre and Marie Curie, the Karolinska Institute and the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
The Spanish co-location centre —with a Catalan leadership— includes several core partners from the business sector, for example Ferrer and Abbott, from the education sector, for instance the UB, the IESE Business School and the Technical University of Madrid; from the research sector, for example the IBEC, the CERCA network and the Biomechanics Institute of Valencia, and from the healthcare sector, for instance the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.
Besides Biocat, Spanish associate partners include: GMV, Societat de Prevenció FREMAP, Linkcare, PAU Education, Biopolis, Inveniam Innovation, Obra Social "la Caixa", Leitat, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, Servicio Madrileño de Salud, National Research Council (CSIC), Agència d'Informació, Avaluació i Qualitat en Salut, SEDECAL, OSM, AlphaSIP, Gallina Blanca and Telefónica.
Knowledge and innovation communities (KICs)
The EIT, created in 2008, is the first European initiative that gathers the three sides of the knowledge triangle —education, research and innovation— by means of the knowledge and innovation communities (KICs). Currently, there are three existing KICs: InnoEnergy (centred on sustainable energy), Climate-KIC (focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation) and ICT Labs (centred on the society of information and communication). In 2014, the EIT has selected the project InnoLife to develop a KIC focused on healthy living and active ageing and the project RawMatTERS to establish another KIC on raw materials.
The EIT and the different KICS play a key role in the new European research and innovation strategy, Horizon 2020, which was approved in 2011 and set up in 2014.