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Northern Knowledge window for UMCG health innovation

''Public private cooperation strategy makes the difference"
28 May 2018

Dr. Jan Sikkema, Director of the Center for Development and Innovation (CDI) at UMCG, is a proud entrepreneur: ‘The north of the Netherlands (NN) is delivering a thriving business community and a thriving knowledge community of academic and applied sciences. Both R&D entities are working hard to make NN leading in empowering innovators and entrepreneurs to develop world-class solutions to societal challenges .

Dr. Jan Sikkema
Dr. Jan Sikkema

But by intensifying public private collaboration within user-centered open-in-novation eco-systems, NN could be more decisive in value creation of shared solutions ,’ stresses Sikkema.


The fact that public-private cooperation at regional level still does not take off sufficiently is partly explained by the traditional organizational structure. Sikkema: 'Researchers usually have one-on-one-talks with industrial partners. This often limits collaborations by the boundaries of scientific disciplines whereas applied research requires a multi-faceted approach. By organizing collaboration and contacts in the user-centered open-innovation infrastructure, you stimulate innovation through multidisciplinary crosspollination.’


UMCG orientated user-centered open-innovation eco-systems are delivering groundbreaking innovation already.

Move2Innovate: UMCG & partners improving movement and performance
Move2Innovate: UMCG & partners improving movement and performance

Demand-driven research

Together with Philips and Life Cooperative, a SME cooperation of regional Life Science and Medtech companies, UMCG is involved in Living Lab initiative Newborn. The Newborn project focuses on testing ‘real time’ devices aiming at a contribution to healthy ageing.

With Zernike Campus based Lode Holding BV and Health Hub Roden UMCG is involved in Move2Innovate project. Move2Innovate stimulates innovations in movement and performance. Lode is world renowned as a manufacturer of high quality ergometers.

A successful UMCG demand-driven research strategy definitely not only restricted to medical product development or pharmaceutical technology innovation. Public private cooperation extends to demography issues and social sciences themes related to healthy ageing. The kick-off of Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, University of Groningen, is anticipating on bringing public and private health stakeholders together. Sikkema: ‘These Living Labs are delivering new knowledge, new products, new business. There is something in it for everyone.’

UMCG partnering in Newborn project: testing 'real time' devices
UMCG partnering in Newborn project: testing 'real time' devices

Services beyond technology transfer office

The Center for Development and Innovation stimulates and coordinates the transfer of knowledge generated in the UMCG to societal partners. Since its establishment in 2011 the CDI has implemented a way of working that goes well beyond the activities of a traditional technology transfer office.

Together with the IP office of Northern Knowledge, the CDI manages the pro-cesses of idea scouting, IP-protection, contracting and licensing. However, in addition to the “inside-out” TTO-approach CDI has developed extensive regional as well as international networks that facilitate collaborations between scientists and private partners such as regional SME’s, start-up companies and multi-national industries. To this end the CDI-strategy has been build upon three main pillars: an active external network, focused support for key expertise areas and structured management of IPR and UMCG interests.

Entering Europe

A CDI-strategy reaching form the City of Groningen to Brussels. UMCG and UG are partner in the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). EIT is an international network of public and private innovators and entrepreneurs to develop world-class solutions to create growth and jobs.

UMCG is partner in the Population Intelligence Lab (PointLab). The Population Intelligence Lab program has identified the great potential of data and biomaterials from large population- and patient-based biobanks for innovative product development. PointLab is promoting public private partnerships in biobanking & population health data with focus on SME support.

Sikkema: ‘The better health products align with end-user demands, the greater their societal and economic impact. While larger companies can perform their own wide-ranging market analyses, for SMEs it is far more difficult to acquire valid information on their end-user’s needs.’

UMCG & private partners working together on health innovation
UMCG & private partners working together on health innovation

Public Face

So, public private cooperation strategy makes the difference, concludes the Director of the UMCG Center for Development and Innovation and member of the Northern Knowledge Programme Board. Northern Knowledge is the open innovation platform of University of Groningen, UMCG, and Hanze University for Applied Sciences profiling valorisation and entrepreneurship, business development, public-private partnerships, and IP.

Sikkema: ‘ Northern Knowledge innovation platform must become a very important advertisement on giving a face to the added value of successful public private collaboration. One clear office for innovation and value creation by connecting research and industry networks through organizing matchmaking events, symposia, bootcamps and VentureLab Weekends. Students and private partners from all over Europe are already attending these Groningen based match making events. The beginning of success is already there.’

Northern Knowledge

Northern Knowledge is the open innovation platform of University of Groningen, UMCG, and Hanze University for Applied Sciences

Last modified:29 May 2018 2.15 p.m.

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