We need to speed up innovation in health

5 Nov

Manel BalcellsManel Balcells, Department of Health Commissioner at LEITAT Technology Centre

One of the challenges of any country relying on a knowledge economy is undoubtedly to look at innovation as a strategic element for the country’s growth and development, and to manage to turn innovation into economic value. That is to say, to return the benefits derived from investments conducted in basic and applied research, back to society.

However, any country prioritizes productive sectors which provide significant benefits, promoting the conditions that make the so called innovation – ecosystem possible, thus completing the value chain from research to market.

Back home in Catalonia, we are well aware of the detachment between the high level of biomedical research – leader in Europe with global significance (you can view the results of the centres in the report from the Central de Resultats) and the moderate degree of innovation reflected by European standards and published by the European Commission in the Regional Innovation Scoreboard.

Regional innovation levels

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Source: European Commission, Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2014

Reversing this situation is not easy. It cannot be expected to from just specific actions alone, however brilliant these may be or from a series of success stories showing up on the immediate horizon. We need a paradigm shift, one that can be the result from first defining a strategy and then implementing it efficiently and effectively.

In this sense, to help accelerate this process, the CASost, an advisory body to the president of the Generalitat, has produced a report entitled “Proposal for knowledge revival strategy in the health system and health research in Catalonia“. The report, endorsed by leading specialists in this field, relies precisely on a set of measures that in the field of biomedical knowledge revival, would allow Catalonia to perform as well as the leading countries in a relatively short period of time.

Henceforth, we could say that innovation in the field of health can take off. To do this, first we need the strategy and then the instruments. But above all we need the political will to move forward.

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