“The Health + Life Science Alliance is an innovation hotspot where excellent institutions work together and now form a strong alliance.” These were the words of Winfried Kretschmann, State Premier of the state of Baden-Württemberg, speaking at a kick-off event for the Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim in the Marsilius Kolleg of Heidelberg University on Thursday 22 September 2022. Seven outstanding research institutions are collaborating in the research alliance with the goal of building the Rhine-Neckar region into an internationally leading biomedical-technological cluster for life sciences, the health economy and medical technology. The event focused on the current expansion and further plans to develop the alliance, also presenting the initial results of projects connected with its state funding as an Innovation Campus. The next step is now the upcoming foundation of a nonprofit limited company.
“With an innovative research and development network of outstanding university and non-university centres, along with strong partners in the business community, the Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim is unleashing an immense potential. It will raise patient care to a new level, considerably accelerate the transfer of research findings into industry, sustainably raise the profile of the region and, last but not least, give politicians an instrument to actively participate in shaping science and health policy at the national and international level,” underlined Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University, in his welcoming address.
State Premier Winfried Kretschmann pointed out that the alliance was exercising significant leverage in health care and, at the same time, represented a unique research and development network. He thanked all those involved for their commitment to implementing scientific innovations in practice. Finally the two spokespersons for the research alliance stressed its special features: “The Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim is a pace-maker for innovations and a development catalyst for the Rhine-Neckar region, which, through the planned collaboration, will also become even more attractive internationally,” said Prof. Dr Wolfgang Wick (Heidelberg University Hospital). Prof. Dr Michael Boutros (German Cancer Research Center and Heidelberg University) stated: “The features that will make our health cluster a success include, in particular, the cross-institutional approach, attractiveness for top-talents and integration into the regional economy.”
Three scientific conversations followed, with researchers from institutions participating in the alliance dealing with pilot projects being funded through the Innovation Campus Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim. Topics included neurosciences and cancer, molecular engineering and bio-convergence – the connection between medicine, biosciences and data sciences – and knowledge-based spin-offs to boost know-how and technology transfer.
The driving forces behind the development, which is rooted in two decades of cooperation, are Heidelberg University, a University of Excellence, with its two Medical Faculties, the German Cancer Research Center, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, the Central Institute of Mental Health and the two University Hospitals in Heidelberg und Mannheim. The seven partners form the core of the Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim. They are united in the goal of expanding common priorities in health research, bolstering life science research and intensifying transfer into industry and society. The aim is thereby to create a new leading industry with great traction and high potential for sustainable value creation, together with strong partners from business and the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region.
The state of Baden-Württemberg is giving 10.7 million euros as a first step towards supporting the structural development of the research alliance. Since 2021, three pilot projects of the partners have already received funding worth 40 million euros in the context of the Innovation Campus funding line, e.g. to build joint high-tech platforms or advance the use of artificial intelligence in life sciences. Embedded in a network of start-ups and companies in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, the Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim seeks to further expand its excellent research, along with translation and transfer, by linking outstanding university and non-university research centres with the university’s medical faculties and the university hospitals. Its aim is to become an internationally top-level, globally competitive location for biomedical technology. To lay the foundations for this, the seven partners signed a memorandum of understanding in August 2021, also setting out the decision-making mechanisms and working structures of the alliance. This is now to be implemented institutionally through the founding of a joint limited company.
Click here for the RNF’s contribution to the kick-off event (German).
Text: Heidelberg University, Communication & Marketing. Image credit: Heidelberg University, Communication & Marketing (Picture: Schwerdt)