The medical technology sector welcomes the European Commission’s 3rd edition of the EU Research and Innovation Days (R&I Days). This event could not have come at a more important time, as this year marks the official launch of Horizon Europe, the EU’s most ambitious research and innovation program to date.
The response to the Covid-19 crisis has driven prominent medical breakthroughs, a tech investment boom, greater adoption of digital health technologies, and a renewed focus on the preparedness and resilience of health systems. Together, these developments have ushered in a flourishing era of health innovation – and the medical technology industry is an integral part of this story. As we enter the recovery phase, our industry continues to build on its strong history of driving innovation and multistakeholder collaboration – a key element of the EU’s research and innovation agenda. The medical technology sector would like to continue building on these strong foundations and contribute to making the EU the leading market for research and innovation.
Innovation in medical technology is thriving, and European medtech companies – 95% of which are start-ups and SMEs –are at the forefront. In 2020, more than 14,200 patent applications were filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) in the field of medical technology, accounting for 8% of the total and representing the highest percentage among all the sectors in Europe. The rate of patent applications has also doubled over the past decade, while other healthcare fields remained comparatively steady.
A Collaborative Partner in the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI)
Recognising the increasing importance of the medical technology sector to health innovation, the EU and healthcare industry sectors have designed the new cross-sectorial partnership IHI, based on the lessons learned in previous joint undertakings like IMI and ECSEL.
We believe in the potential of IHI to drive healthcare innovation in Europe. We are committed to maximising this opportunity by acting as a bridge between companies in all healthcare sectors, as well as greater public-private partnerships, working with regulators, researchers, health care professionals and more. Collaboration between stakeholders is a driver for innovation and will help keep Europe competitive in a global market.
Together towards an Innovative Europe
As demonstrated by the programme of the EU R&I days, cooperation in research and innovation is essential to our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and will pave the way to a better future. By turning research and development into solutions for patients, health professionals, and health systems, the medical technology industry has improved patient outcomes and efficiency in healthcare systems both in ‘normal’ times and in times of crises – and we look forward to being an active partner in this new era of collaborative health innovation.
In these times of great change, Europe should take advantage of its diversity of health stakeholders by promoting cooperation to prioritise research and innovation that can improve patient outcomes, help make health systems more sustainable and generate new ways of thinking. The medical technology industry, including its many start-ups and SMEs, would also benefit from specific innovation funding programs and flexibility to establish the EU as a first port of call for innovation in medical technologies, including digital health.
The medical technology sector looks forward to working with the EU, key health industry sectors, and other stakeholders on new solutions to build a more research-oriented, innovative, and resilient Europe.