At a 10 September Friends of Europe debate, audience members and panellists held a collective brainstorm on what the pharmaceutical sector needs from an industrial strategy to respond to future challenges. “Industry has to adapt to changing expectations – we want them to play a role in meeting societal challenges like climate change, demographic shifts and improving human rights”, Tamsin Rose, moderator and Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe, said.
The event explored how the new EU industrial policy could support a pharmaceutical sector that is connected and competitive, ensuring accessible and affordable medicines for Europeans. And it was held at a key time – literally minutes after Commission President-Elect Ursula von der Leyen announced the list of new Commissioners to take office on 1 November.
For Laura Gutierrez, Vice-President for Public Affairs for Europe at Sanofi, the EU should focus on regulatory frameworks for up-and-coming technologies and data collection. On handling data, she maintained that “we are very limited in what we can do as one company. How can Europe pool data resources? This is key to getting more efficient healthcare systems.”
Daria Tataj, Strategy Adviser and Chair of the Research, Innovation and Science (RISE) High-Level Expert Group at the European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (RTD), agreed, saying that “implementation of policies on open data and digitalisation is a core element to focus on.” Leveraging clusters of innovation and making them open to everyone is also high on the list. “It is all about connecting two parallel activities: the ability to innovate and the ability to network. A third step consists of connecting those two abilities to create value.”
For that reason, Tataj supports the mission-oriented approach in Horizon Europe: “Working around missions emphasises that boosting both knowledge and connectivity is imperative.”
Marcel Haag, Head of the Directorate for Jobs, Growth and Investment at the European Commission Secretariat-General, maintained that the upcoming industrial strategy for Europe must get the balance right between the importance of competition and collaboration. “We have to ensure that the benefits of cooperation outweigh the risks of collusion between competitors.”
Looking at the fact that emerging markets are taking over the incumbents in terms of innovative companies, Tataj insisted that “there is only one way to transform systems: you need to attract top talent. European policy should support transformative local leaders who can mobilise resources from the bottom up.”
Gutierrez agreed that transformation of companies and skills is paramount: “We need to create the right skills,” she told the Brussels meeting. “We always say this, but we cannot emphasise it enough.”
Haag concluded by inviting the life sciences sector to engage with the process of the new EU industrial strategy: “We will be best served if you inform us of what you need to ensure that we have a state-of-the-art, inclusive health system in Europe.”
Rose welcomed this challenge: “This is an invitation from the Commission for the health community to get its act together and say what it needs to thrive and to be competitive and sustainable in future.”
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In 2019, Friends of Europe has been exploring an industrial strategy for Europe through its ‘Towards European Industrial Innovation: Who Should Lead the Way?’ series. This debate complements the series by bringing the discussion to the pharmaceutical sector – a sector that brims with innovation, but needs attention if it is to stay ahead of the curve. Speakers at this event will debate what the European Union can do to deliver on the potential of its innovative pharmaceutical sector.
Friends of Europe organises this event in partnership with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
PHOTO CREDIT: Bigstock/Vectormine
Pharmaceuticals are an EU success story. The fast-growing sector has doubled its production in the past 15 years and tripled exports outside the EU, while improving the lives of patients. However, through a combination of financial pressures, increased access to drugs, the growth of gene and cell therapies and uncertain trade policies, the dynamics of the pharmaceutical market are expected to undergo further changes in years to come. Approximately 800,000 people work in the pharmaceutical sector, making the sector a huge asset for Europe as it tries to simultaneously tackle the challenges presented by a greying population, a revolution in the labour market and climate change. Europe is not short of entrepreneurial life scientists with big ideas, but the innovation ecosystem needs attention if it is to scale up products and services for the market.
A new industrial policy strategy for Europe is imperative for the research-based European pharmaceutical industry to remain strong, allowing Europe to retain its competitive advantage vis-à-vis other global economies. A renewed industrial strategy must be built, among others, around incentives such as intellectual property, to support and incentivise innovation and investment in Europe.
- How can the potential of the innovative pharmaceutical sector for Europe be unleashed and how can a renewed industrial strategy contribute to that?
- What are the roadblocks that could be removed through EU instruments and industry sector leadership?
- How can Europe become a centre of excellence in healthcare and medical research by the end of the next European Commission’s term?
Head of the Directorate for Jobs, Growth and Investment at the European Commission Secretariat-General
Director for EU and International Affairs at the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Entrepreneur, Strategy Advisor and Chair of the Research, Innovation and Science (RISE) High-Level Expert Group
Isabelle Thizon-de Gaulle
Vice-President for Scientific Relations and R&D Initiatives for Europe at Sanofi
Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe
As Head of the Directorate for Jobs, Growth and Investment at the Secretariat-General, Marcel Haag is in charge of policy coordination. He has extensive experience in the European Commission, working in multiple services. Haag headed several policy units at the Secretariat-General before taking up his current position. Prior to joining the European Commission, Haag qualified as a judge in Düsseldorf and briefly worked in the private sector.
Janne Känkänen has held multiple positions within the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, including his current role as Director for EU and International Affairs. He is also the Chair of the European Council High Level Working Group on Competitiveness and Growth, where he advocates for a strong focus on sustainability. Känkänen has a deep knowledge of the interface between the private and public sector and the impact of industrial policy on European and global businesses.
Tamsin Rose is Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe. Having studied international relations, she has 25 years of experience working across the European continent from Ireland to Mongolia. A natural communicator, Tamsin has been a radio reporter, worked on press for the EU Delegation in Moscow and is currently a member of the external speaker team for the European Commission Directorate General for Communication, describing how the EU works and key policies to visitor groups from around the world. Since 2002 she has specialised in public health and public participation issues, serving as Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), and providing strategic advice for health groups on how to engage successfully with the EU.
As Chair of the High-Level Group of Policy Advisors to Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Daria Tataj leads the policy reflection on the Horizon Europe budget. She is one of the architects of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) – an independent body of the European Union set up to deliver innovation across Europe – and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC). Tataj was also an Executive Member of the EIT Founding Board for six years. Drawing on her experience as a leading expert in innovation and network thinking, she wrote the book ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A Growth Model for Europe Beyond the Crisis’.
Isabelle Thizon-de Gaulle is currently Vice-President of Sanofi, leading on Scientific Relations and R&D Initiatives within Europe. Thizon-de Gaulle began her career with Sanofi in 1992 and has since held multiple leading positions within the organisation, including Vice-President for Medical Affairs and Scientific Relations in Europe, Vice-President for Global Medical Affairs Operations and Vice-President for R&D Partnerships. Additionally, Thizon-de Gaulle is a member of the Board of Directors for the French National Association for Research and Technology (ANRT) and a member of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Health Supervisory Board.
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