European Commission appoints Utrecht as frontrunner for European health innovation

European Commission appoints Utrecht metropolitan region as European leader in health innovation. Euro Commissioners Ivanova (research and innovation) and Ferreira (regional policy) announced this. Utrecht Science Park, the biggest science park in the Netherlands, has a crucial role in this, with leading and innovative companies and institutions such as UMC Utrecht, Princess Máxima Center and cancer medicine company Genmab. With the award of 'Regional Innovation Valley' status, Utrecht gains the objective of increasing cooperation in health innovation in Europe. The initiative is part of European plans to increase European competitiveness against the US and China. Last year, Utrecht was already named Europe's most competitive region. Known as Utrecht Heart of Health, it scored highly in the field of human and environmental health.

Sharon Dijksma, chair of the Economic Board Utrecht: 'The award from European Commission is a confirmation of the strong position the Utrecht region has as the Heart of Health. We are home to innovative companies and institutions such as UMC Utrecht, Princess Máxima Center, cancer medicine company Genmab and thousands of other innovative entrepreneurs. This visibly pays off. We see this award as encouragement to put our region even more firmly on the map internationally.'

First step in European economic plan of action

The European Commission wants the 232 European regions to join forces to strengthen innovation and research within the European Union. In this way, the entire European economy should become more innovative and connected to face increasing competition from China and the US. The European Commission has identified improving healthcare, food security, fossil fuel independence and digitalisation as its economic priorities. Appointing frontrunners in this strategy - the Regional Innovation Valleys - is a first step in this. André van Schie, member of the Provincial Executive of Utrecht: "This stimulates and motivates us to continue investing in a good entrepreneurial climate, focusing on social tasks, knowledge sharing and joining forces with other leading regions in Europe to work towards healthy people in a healthy living environment."

Healthy people and healthy environment

The Utrecht Metropolitan Region is making headway in its goal of contributing to a healthier world. Organisations such as Ballast Nedam and Utrecht University are collaborating on a World Health Organization pilot project to make Utrecht's Cartesius urban district a place where people live healthier and happier lives for longer. As home to 'urban engineers' such as Royal Haskoning DHV and Arcadis, it is no wonder Amersfoort was voted European city of the year this year. And pioneering healthcare innovations also come from the region. The company Genmab, for example, has developed seven approved cancer medicines in recent years: an unprecedented high number for a European biotech company. And the Princess Máxima Center for Paediatric Oncology has led a study that resulted in the survival rate of babies with an aggressive form of leukaemia increasing from 66 to a whopping 93 per cent.

Arjan van den Born, director of the Regional Development Company (ROM) Utrecht Region: "In addition to these examples, there are thousands of entrepreneurs who are working every day to innovate on health and create a healthy living environment. As Regional Innovation Valley, we can further develop innovation cooperation within and outside the region."

Source: provincie Utrecht (in Dutch)