Investing in innovation in health: a new industrial strategy for the COVID-19 era

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Investing in innovation in health: a new industrial strategy for the COVID-19 era

Summary

As Europe reflects on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, some are calling for Europe’s new industrial strategy to integrate ‘strategic autonomy’ into critical sectors like health, while also maintaining a leading position on medical innovation.

The pandemic has taught us that “there are gaps, weaknesses and fragilities” in our system, noted moderator Tamsin Rose while opening the event. “We have learned now that we need to invest in a different way, in a smart way, when we look at rebuilding and restarting our economies to make sure that we have the resilience in our societies to cope with this, and future threats.”

Does Europe need strategic autonomy and what would it look like?

Europe plays a leading global role when it comes to life sciences and the healthcare sector. Why should the new EU industrial strategy focus on boosting strategic autonomy in this arena and what does that actually mean?

  • 4:55 “One image particularly struck me: the planes arriving directly from China, full of masks, because we were not able to produce them in Europe. How is it possible to be so dependent on foreign industries for such a simple product? / 9:28 “[This] means relocating some industrial activities in the EU.” [Christophe Grudler]
  • 12:30 France’s financial recovery plan includes a “big shift in the importance of industry” and securing strategic supplies with incentives in key sectors – including health – for the “localisation of production capacity”. [Romain Bonenfant]
  • 44:09 “We need to be a bit thoughtful because innovation and expertise never exist in one place.… think about resilient supply chains and R&D infrastructure rather than reshoring everything.” [George Katzourakis]
  • 39:56 How do you find the “sweet spot” that touches on all aspects of the innovation ecosphere – including skills, jobs, training and research – as well as picking up on other political priorities such as the Green Deal and the circular economy, in a way that contributes towards strategic autonomy? asked Tamsin Rose. / 40:25 “It is a hard balancing act, but it is the way we are working across the board in this Commission. The flagship initiatives of the Green Deal and the digital transformation of Europe are two factors that are always considered across all our policies.” [Despina Spanou]

Autonomy doesn’t mean protectionism

  • 16:27 “When we talk about resilience, it’s sometimes seen as a way to do protectionist measures … but actually it’s not how we see it and how we design our measures – we believe we will achieve resilience through innovation and competitive business.” [Romain Bonenfant]
  • 37:51 “It is not protectionism… strategic autonomy is to have our destiny in our own hands. We can make business with China, but not only with China, we need maybe four or five other countries.” [Christophe Grudler]
  • 23:20 “It is not about [protectionism]. I think every part of the world wishes to be able to manage a situation like this unprecedented pandemic we’re living now.” [Despina Spanou]

‘Show me the money’

If Europe is serious about maintaining its position as a leader in innovation, there needs to be renewed emphasis within the industrial strategy on seeing through the capitalisation and financing of that innovation, said Nina Rawal, who works in a health-focused venture capital fund.

  • 46:03 “Europe does a great job at investing in early research… there’s a lot of money to be found for early-stage companies in this area, but then as they develop into product-developing companies…there really isn’t a lot of capital to be found.” [Nina Rawal]
  • 48:26 “We need to put a lot more resources. We have to use our programmes to go beyond the traditional approach of research, we have to change the way we do things… we invest a lot in Europe in research and innovation… but the way we have been doing it has been the same for years.” [Despina Spanou]
  • 50:48 “We believe an initiative at the European level could be warranted… to specifically address the scaling-up of innovative companies in health.” [Romain Bonenfant]
  • 6:54 “We need to support our SMEs in the industrial sector… they face important barriers to enter the market and to reach the commercialisation phase of their technologies.” [Christophe Grudler]

Big ideas: what can the EU do?

No one predicted this time last year that health would be quite so high on the European Commission’s agenda. The pandemic has shown that a more “European approach” is needed, said Despina Spanou, who called for investment that is  targeted and strategic, highlighting the “important investments” being made in the new European Health Union.

  • 22:14 The COVID crisis has shown the importance of the internal market and now Europe needs to invest in a “true internal market of medical supplies” and in its pharmaceutical industry, and place efforts into the “priority of digital.” / 25:57 “The EU4Health programme has suffered in the negotiations… but what has changed in Europe is that health is now present in all priorities.” [Despina Spanou]
  • 58:39 “The European Union [should] define what success looks like… [so] you’re making sure that you’re making progress in the right direction, and you’re ensuring also that all these policy initiatives are coherent”. [George Katzourakis]
  • 59:32 “We must better support the digitalisation of the European health industry.” [Christophe Grudler]
  • 1:00:32 There’s good alignment on the concept of strategic autonomy, so “the big idea now is speed of implementation at the European level. We need to turn this concept into concrete acts”. [Romain Bonenfant]
About

About

France and Germany have called for Europe’s renewed industrial strategy to develop autonomy in critical sectors such as tech and life sciences. This call builds on two decades of attempts from policymakers to enhance the competitiveness of the continent’s industries.

Europe is home to world-leading pharmaceutical and med-tech companies and is the continent with the most cost-effective provision of universal healthcare. Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced an update of the EU’s industrial strategy for 2021 which will address the lessons learned from the pandemic. Indisputably, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the need to improve resilience of global supply chains, particularly in healthcare. Some are calling today for the EU to achieve strategic autonomy in critical sectors, but also to maintain a leading position on medical innovation. Combining research and innovation capacity in healthcare with a powerful manufacturing base may enhance Europe’s capabilities to respond to current and future health crises.

There is a lot at stake in Europe’s industrial strategy and a huge potential for the health sector to be a motor of sustainable recovery.


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Schedule

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Investing in innovation in health: a new industrial strategy for the COVID-19 era Expand Investing in innovation in health: a new industrial strategy for the COVID-19 era

France and Germany have called for Europe’s renewed industrial strategy to develop autonomy in critical sectors such as tech and life sciences. This call builds on two decades of attempts from policymakers to enhance the competitiveness of the continent’s industries.

Europe is home to world-leading pharmaceutical and med-tech companies and is the continent with the most cost-effective provision of universal healthcare. Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced an update of the EU’s industrial strategy for 2021 which will address the lessons learned from the pandemic. Indisputably, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the need to improve resilience of global supply chains, particularly in healthcare. Some are calling today for the EU to achieve strategic autonomy in critical sectors, but also to maintain a leading position on medical innovation. Combining research and innovation capacity in healthcare with a powerful manufacturing base may enhance Europe’s capabilities to respond to current and future health crises.

There is a lot at stake in Europe’s industrial strategy and a huge potential for the health sector to be a motor of sustainable recovery.

  • How can a new industrial strategy help boost the EU’s health sector?
  • What policy measures should be considered along the recovery funding package and recently announced EU-BARDA agency for biomedical research and development so to not miss the opportunity to make Europe the Silicon Valley for research and innovation?
  • What are the appropriate incentives for private sector investment medical innovation?

speakers

Romain Bonenfant

Head of the Industry Department of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance

Christophe Grudler

Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

George Katzourakis

Senior Vice-President and Head of Europe at GlaxoSmithKilne (GSK)

Despina Spanou

Head of Cabinet of European Commissioner for Promoting Our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas

Moderator

Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe

End of debate
Speakers

Speakers

Romain Bonenfant
Romain Bonenfant

Head of the Industry Department of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance

Show more information on Romain Bonenfant

In his current position Romain Bonenfant heads the Directorate General for Enterprise, in charge of industrial policy for artificial intelligence and blockchain, digital transformation of SMEs, innovation policy for new digital services. Starting off his career in Brussels, both at European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition (COMP) and at the French Permanent Representation to the EU, Bonenfant then worked at the French national regulatory authority for telecoms, ARCEP, as director in charge of fixed networks regulation and relations with local authorities, with a specific focus on fibre roll-out and coordination with the French National Ultra-fast Broadband Plan. He also served as an advisor to the French Prime Minister on industrial affairs, in particular regarding the management of State shareholdings and industrial/innovation policy. He then worked in strategy consulting, advising industrial companies on their growth strategy.

Christophe Grudler
Christophe Grudler

Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

Show more information on Christophe Grudler

A passionate advocate for a stronger European industrial strategy, informed by good environmental practices, Christophe Grudler has been a member of the European Parliament since 2019. In his current role, he supports the acceleration of digitalisation and the need to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy in the industry sector. In addition to his committee assignments, he is the shadow rapporteur of the European Industrial Strategy.

Photo of George Katzourakis
George Katzourakis

Senior Vice-President and Head of Europe at GlaxoSmithKilne (GSK)

Show more information on George Katzourakis

George Katzourakis has more than 19 years’ experience working in the pharmaceutical sector. At GSK, he went from Vice-President General Manager of Greece and Head of the Metabolic and Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, to Senior Vice President and Head of Europe. As such, he currently looks over GSK’s business across Europe, advocating for the crucial importance of pharmaceuticals for innovation at large and for the future of EU’s industrial strategy.

Despina Spanou
Despina Spanou

Head of Cabinet of European Commissioner for Promoting Our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas

Show more information on Despina Spanou

A lawyer by training, Despina Spanou has spent most of her career at the European Commission, where she had the chance to cover different portfolios, spanning from consumers rights to competition law, health, digital and cybersecurity. In her current position, together with European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas, she proposed the creation of a European Health Union to jointly respond to current and future health crises and strengthen Europe’s crisis management against cross-border health threats.

Photo of Tamsin Rose
Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe

Show more information on Tamsin Rose

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.

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